The Weather: Transmission levels continue to rise as we head into winter, with 93.3% of the population currently living in areas with substantial or higher transmission – compared to 85% last week.
On Variants: The CDC has updated its variant proportions report, better showing the swarm of variants currently circulating; variants are listed even if less than 1 percent. BQ1.1 is the most common (32 percent), followed by BQ1 (31 percent).
Many variants, like BF7 & BA4.6, are already on the decline, but we should keep an eye on those with increasing numbers, like XBB.
Regionally, we see BQ1 & 1.1 are the most common in all areas except the Central Plains. XBB, in light purple, is most common on the East Coast – a familiar trend for new variants.
Wastewater Monitoring: National wastewater levels are rising after months of high but stable levels; increase is seen in all regions, with the highest numbers seen in the Northeast. This data likely does not reflect cases from recent holiday gatherings.
Biobot also reported on trends over the past 3 years. 2022 (green) has had higher levels than most of either 2020 or 2021. Just relying on vaccinations & low booster rates alone, we are now at higher levels than the same time in 2020.
Vaccinations: Booster rates remain low, with most states reporting less than 25% of their population having received the updated bivalent booster.
Hospitalizations: Hospitalizations are beginning to rise again, with the greatest increases seen in children & those over 70. These increases are currently being driven mostly by the Central and Western regions of the country.
Deaths: The week of November 30, 1,780 people died of COVID nationally. That brings the 2022 death total to over 247,600. We cannot let ourselves become numb to these staggering numbers.
On Long COVID: People previously infected with COVID, including children, may have a higher chance of developing diabetes. Researchers also theorize that COVID can alter gene expression, thereby increasing risk of Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes.
The Global Situation: COVID continues to be a global pandemic. CNN shows daily deaths in the US peak higher & last longer than elsewhere; periods of low death are similar to peaks in other countries.
Forecast: The FDA has removed approval for the last available monoclonal antibody treatment, as it is not effective for newer variants. This means we have one fewer layer of both prevention against & treatment for COVID.
Combined outbreaks of COVID, RSV, influenza, and other viruses continue to overwhelm pediatric hospitals. Pediatric healthcare organizations are asking Biden to declare a national emergency which would allow hospitals to address capacity issues and access emergency funding.
One theory why these viruses are spiking simultaneously is COVID infection may temporarily suppress immune responses, similar to measles. Recent COVID infection could make RSV symptoms more severe in infants.
CDC tracking of RSV hospitalization shows this season is worse than previous years. 7.5% of all healthcare visits this week were for respiratory illnesses and 9.7% of all deaths were due to pneumonia, influenza, or Covid. Both are above average.
Take Action: Get your flu shot & bivalent booster!!! Wear high quality masks, use ventilation, test & stay home when feeling sick.
Notes: 1) The numbers in this report were current as of 12/2. The CDC updates data frequently as it receives refreshed information. Today’s numbers may be slightly different from the data here. 2) Check out the links throughout & see our website for more! https://peoplescdc.org.