People’s CDC COVID-19 Weather Report


The Weather: Transmission levels remain high, with 98.5 percent of the population living in areas with substantial or higher transmission.

Map and table show COVID transmission levels by US county as of 12/15/22. Low to Moderate transmission levels are pale yellow, Substantial is orange, High is red, Very High is brown, and Extremely High is black. Most of the map is red with some orange interspersed. Counties colored brown and black are scattered throughout, especially in the Midwest and Southwest. The Northwest has more of a mix between pale yellow, orange, and red. Text reads: 98.5 percent of the US population lives in an area with substantial or higher transmission. A Transmission Level table shows 2.4 percent of counties (3.5 percent by population) as Extremely High, 7.1 percent of the counties (9.6 percent by population) as Very High, 64.6 percent of counties (74.0 percent by population) as High, 16.9 percent of counties (11.5 percent by population) as Substantial, and 9.0 percent of counties (1.5 percent by population) as Low to Moderate. The People's CDC created the graphic from CDC data.

On Variants: The CDC variant report, which includes many strains no longer circulating, shows BQ1/1.1 (darker teals) remain dominant – 69% overall & most common in all regions. The only other variants still increasing are XBB (light purple, particularly on the coasts) and BN1 (green-brown).

Table on the left estimates different viral lineages between 12/11/2022 and 12/17/2022, which includes WHO label, US classification, this week’s percent total, 95 percent prediction interval, and color coding. The table is ranked with most prevalent lineages at the top. On the right, a stacked bar chart with weeks on the x-axis shows weeks from 9/17/2022 to 12/17/2022 and y-axis as percentage of viral lineages among infections. The recent 3 weeks are labeled as Nowcast projections. BQ1.1 (teal) and BQ1 (dark teal) continue to increase, have reached 38.4 and 30.7 percent, respectively, and are now the two most common variants. BA5 (light teal) was previously the most common lineage. From its peak around 8/20 of about 86 percent, it has receded to 10.0 percent. XBB (periwinkle purple) is now fourth most prevalent at 7.2 percent. BF7 (sky blue) is now fifth, decreasing to 4.9 percent. BN1 (green brown) has increased to 4.1 percent.
Graphic source: CDC COVID Data Tracker: Variant Proportions

We’ve previously shared that no monoclonal antibodies are left against the newer variants. Some lab data suggest vaccines may also be less effective against XBB – but we need additional epidemiology data to know the real-world impact.

Wastewater Monitoring: National wastewater levels are remaining high overall, and in all regions, except the West. Levels are higher than any peak prior to Omicron.

Title reads COVID Wastewater Monitoring in the US. Top text says “Data last updated December 15, 2022 from samples collected during the week of December 12.” Graph shows weekly wastewater viral concentration and daily clinical cases since the beginning of the pandemic and ending on December 15, 2022. A dark blue line represents viral concentration in copies per milliliter of sewage, and a light blue line represents the average of daily new clinical cases. Since about March 2022, the light blue case line is somewhat erratic and relatively plateaued at well less than 100K. Over the same time, the dark blue wastewater line is persistently higher. It peaked above 1,000 copies/mL in late July 2022 and was decreasing until two weeks ago, where a significant increase occurred, from 518 copies/milliliter on November 2 to 775 copies/milliliter on November 30, and has remained at that level. Bottom text reads: “Source: Wastewater data from Biobot Analytics, Inc; Clinical data from USAFacts.”
Graphic source: Biobot Analytics

Vaccinations:  New data show bivalent boosters provide significant extra protection against severe disease, especially for unvaccinated folks or whose last vaccine was 11+ months ago. This highlights that COVID protection – from vaccines or infections – is difficult to maintain long term.

The bivalent booster was especially protective among those over 65 years old, who are among the most vulnerable for hospitalization and death. Unfortunately, booster uptake remains low, at only 14% overall and 36% among seniors.

Table shows total number of individuals in the US with a completed primary series and updated bivalent booster dose of the COVID vaccine and total percent of the US population within each age group who sought and received an updated bivalent booster dose. Populations with the updated bivalent vaccine booster who are five years of age and older account for 44,154,294 people and 14.1 percent, populations twelve years of age and older account for 43,354,864people and 15.3 percent, populations 18 years of age and older account for 41,9799.757 people and 16.3 percent, and populations 65 years of age and older account for 19,537,080 people and 35.7%.
Graphic source: CDC

Hospitalizations: Hospitalizations continue to rise, with particularly high rates among those 70+. All regions are rising, except the West. There are fewer hospitalizations compared to other winter surges but there is still too much transmission, too many deaths & too much pressure on hospitals.

Two line graphs representing new admissions to hospitals of patients with confirmed COVID in the United States with the first on the left representing ages 0 to 17 years and second on the right representing ages 70 years and older. Both graphs have New Admissions per 100,000 Population (all subsequent rates are reported per 100,000) on its y-axis and labels of January 2021 to July 2022 on its x-axis. Among children, new admissions peak at about 0.25 in January 2021 and 1.3 in January 2022, with other peaks happening in August 2021 at 0.5 and July 2022 at 0.4. The line gradually decreases after July 2022 to 0.2 with a recent increase to 0.3 and plateauing. Among older adults, new admissions peak at about 20 in January 2021 and 21.5 in January 2022, with other peaks happening in August 2021 at 8 and July 2022 at 7.5. The line gradually decreases after the July 2022 minor peak to 5 with recent increases to 6.9 and plateauing.
Graphic source: CDC COVID Data Tracker: New Hospital Admissions

Deaths: The week of December 14, at least 2,703 people died of COVID nationally. For the first time, the CDC also reported that 3,544 people died of Long Covid from Jan 2020 through June 2022 – and this is likely an undercount.

Forecast: The forecast, simply, is not good. COVID cases are rising while flu, RSV and other winter illnesses are filling hospitals. Children are becoming severely ill with strep throat in Europe & here in the US.

This article is a good summary, but we disagree with their dismissal of immunity damage caused by COVID. The CDC found that children have more severe disease when they are sick with both flu and COVID at the same time.

A recent poll highlights that many Americans are indeed worried about increased hospitalizations and their own health this winter. These worries are highest among Black and Hispanic participants, reflecting that these communities have borne the brunt of the pandemic.

Title reads “About a third of adults are worried they will get sick from COVID-19, while half are worried about a surge in cases and hospitalizations this winter.” Two bar charts side by side show the percentage who say they’re very or somewhat worried for either situation, grouped age and race and ethnicity. For those who will get seriously sick from COVID: a total of 36 percent. By age groups, 18 to 29 was 30 percent, 30 to 49 was 37 percent, 50 to 64 was 33 percent, and 65 and older was 43 percent. By race and ethnicity, Black was 49 percent, Hispanic was 60 percent, and White was 26 percent. For there will be an increase in COVID cases and hospitalizations in the US this winter, a total of 49 percent. By age groups 18 to 29 was 47 percent, 30 to 49 was 47 percent, 50 to 64 was 44 percent, and 65 and older was 60 percent. By race and ethnicity, Black was 68 percent, Hispanic was 69 percent, and White was 39 percent. “Source: KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor (Nov 29-Dec 8 2022).”
Graphics Source: KFF

Take Action: The government is making rapid tests available again! Go to & order a pack of 4 tests per household – stock up or share with your community! You can also order up to 5 tests in certain zip codes at

While rapid tests are not included in most case counts, you can report your test results at Use the PCDC’s testing guide & safer gatherings kit to make the most of your tests: &

Two other notes about tests: 3 lots of Detect home PCR tests from this summer are being recalled. Double-check your rapid test expiration dates – many have been extended.

Of course, 4 tests won’t go very far this winter. Folks with insurance can still get 8 tests per person, each month. And sign here to encourage the White House to follow up free tests with free high-quality masks:

Families in Virginia won an important case this week: schools must require masks to protect vulnerable students. Philadelphia schools will be requiring masks after winter break. We applaud this decision & hope other schools will follow or even start masking now!

Lots of changes are happening in social media. Reminder that you can follow our substack, Mastodon ( & Facebook pages as well!

Notes: 1) The numbers in this report were current as of 12/16. 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!

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