People’s CDC COVID-19 Weather Report


The Weather: Transmission levels remain high, with 95.8 percent of the population living in areas with substantial or higher transmission. Rates are particularly high along with the East Coast, with lower levels in the West.

Map and table show COVID transmission levels by US county as of 1/12/23 based on the number of COVID cases per 100,000 population and percent positivity in the past 7 days. 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. The midwest and northwest regions show more pale yellow and orange Text in the bottom right reads: 95.8 percent of the US population lives in an area with substantial or higher transmission. A Transmission Level table shows 2.6 percent of counties (2 percent by population) as Extremely High, 8.8 percent of the counties (10.8 percent by population) as Very High, 59.5 percent of counties (71.6 percent by population) as High, 15 percent of counties (11.3 percent by population) as Substantial, and 14.1 percent of counties (4.2 percent by population) as Low to Moderate. The People's CDC created the graphic from CDC data.

On Variants: This week the new variant XBB 1.5 (Kraken) is now almost tied with BQ1/1.1 for most common variant (43% vs 44.7%), and is expected to surpass it next week. It continues to dominate in the Northeast though it is quickly spreading throughout the U.S.

 A stacked bar chart with weeks on the x-axis shows weeks from 10/15/2022 to 1/14/2023 and y-axis as percentage of viral lineages among infections. The recent 3 weeks are labeled as Nowcast projections. A table on the left lists specific lineages, percent totals, and 95 percent PIs for the most recent week.  XBB.1.5 (dark purple) became the most prevalent lineage at 43 percent as BQ1.1 (teal) declined to 28.8 percent.  BQ1 (dark teal) is now 15.9 percent. XBB (periwinkle purple) remains the fourth most prevalent at 3.9 percent, followed by BA.5 (light teal) which is now at just 2.6 percent.
Graphic source: CDC COVID Data Tracker: Variant Proportions

This rapid growth is very worrying. According to the World Health Organization, Kraken is the most transmissible COVID variant to date.

This high transmissibility is due to how Kraken appears to combine the extreme immune evasion of XBB with the strong binding affinity to cells of B 2.75, making it likely to be a dominant and pathological variant.

Regional differences in dominant variants remain, though the gap is closing as the weeks go on. Kraken (dark purple) is dominant in the Northeast and almost dominant in the Southeast, with the rest of the US still dominated by BQ1/1.1 (teal green).

Regional difference map of the US with 10 regions each with roughly 3 or 4 states depicted as shades of gray. Title reads “United States: 1/8/2023 - 1/14/2023 Nowcast.” Each region has a colored pie chart showing variant proportions. Legend at bottom right reads “Regional proportions from specimens collected the week ending 1/7/2023” and “US Territories not shown are included in HHS regions: PR, VI - Region 2. AS, FM, GU, MH, MP, PW - Region 9.” XBB1.5 (dark purple) makes up over three-quarters of the pie in regions 1 and 2 (Northeast), about half in region 3 (Mid-Atlantic) and smaller slivers elsewhere. BQ1.1 (teal) and BQ1 (dark teal) are the most common in the rest of the country, i.e. regions 4 through 10. Bottom text reads: “Updated January 13, 2023” and  “Lineages called using pangolin v4.1.3, pangolin-data v1.17 and user v.0.5.4.”
Graphic source: CDC COVID Data Tracker: Variant Proportions

Wastewater Monitoring: National wastewater levels have dropped a bit, though they remain higher than any winter peak prior to Omicron.

Graph shows weekly wastewater viral concentration and daily clinical cases since the beginning of the pandemic and ending on January 11, 2023. Top text says “Data last updated January 12, 2023 from samples collected during the week of January 09, 2023.” 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 per mL in late July 2022 and was decreasing until the end of October. A significant increase occurred earlier in January, rivaling the July numbers at 1,079 copies/mL on January 4, but the dark blue line is now trending down again. Bottom text reads: “Source: Wastewater data from Biobot Analytics, Inc; Clinical data from USAFacts.”
Graphic source: Biobot Analytics

Wastewater levels continue to be highest in the Northeast, and wastewater in all regions appear to be on the decline.

Title reads “Wastewater: Effective SARS-Cov-2 virus concentration (copies/mL of sewage), powered by Biobot Analytics.” Line graph shows the levels of COVID detected in wastewater by US region, each region with a different color trend line, over the last 6 weeks. A legend map of the US on the right shows the West region as green, South as pink, Midwest as purple, and Northeast as orange. The y axis shows copies per mL of sewage and the x-axis shows time between December 4, 2022 to January 8, 2023 with weekly dates labeled on the axis. Northeast (orange) has the highest virus concentration over the past 6 weeks, increasing from November through December with a slight decline in the last two weeks, still above 1,000 copies per mL. South (pink) has increased from the lowest concentration to now being around 800 copies per mL and second highest. Source: Wastewater data from Biobot Analytics, Inc.
Graphic source: Biobot Analytics

Hospitalizations: While hospitalizations are starting to take a small dip, they are still so high that they rival the Delta wave peak for those over 70.

Two line graphs representing new admissions to hospitals of patients with confirmed COVID in the United States with the left graph representing all ages and right graph showing ages 70 years and older. Both graphs have labels of January 2021 to January 2023 on its x-axis and New Admissions per 100,000 Population (all subsequent rates are reported per 100,000) on its y-axis. On the left, y-axis ranges from 0 to 8 and on the right, y-axis ranges from 0 to 25. Among all ages, new admissions peak above 6 in January 2022, with other peaks in January 2021 near 5, August 2021 at 3.7, and July 2022 near 2. The line gradually decreases in Fall 2022 to around 1 with a recent increase to near 2. 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 near 8 and July 2022 near 7.5. The line gradually decreases in Fall 2022 to around 5. Numbers gradually increased to 9.4 by January, with a slight decrease in the most recent week.
Graphic source: CDC COVID Data Tracker: New Hospital Admissions

Hospitalizations have shown a slight decline in the Northeast (for example Region 1) and the South (Region 4) although it is too early to tell whether the decline will continue or if  hospitalizations will rise again soon.

Two line graphs representing new admissions to hospitals of patients with confirmed COVID in the United States, all ages, with the left graph showing HHS Region 1 and right graph showing HHS Region 4. Both graphs have labels of January 2021 to January 2023 on its x-axis and New Admissions per 100,000 Population (all subsequent rates are reported per 100,000) on its y-axis. On the left, y-axis ranges from 0 to 7 and on the right, y-axis ranges from 0 to 8. In Region 1, new admissions peak near 6 in January 2022, with a smaller peak in January 2021 near 3.5. Since summer 2022, admissions stayed between 1 and 2 until the past few weeks, where admissions increase to around 2.5. In Region 4, August 2021 and January 2022 both had peaks above 7, with a January 2021 peak around 6. August 2023 had a more gradual peak around 2.5, and in recent weeks, admissions are increasing again, currently just above 2.
Graphic source: CDC COVID Data Tracker: New Hospital Admissions

Deaths: The week of January 11, at least 3,907 people died of COVID nationally, an alarmingly high 44% increase compared to the previous week. This is only the second time deaths have been this high since the original omicron wave in the beginning of 2022.

Title reads “Weekly Trends in Number of COVID-19 Deaths in The United States Reported to CDC”. Graph shows a y-axis of weekly deaths ranging from 0 to 18,000 and an x axis of dates ranging from Jan 12, 2022 through Jan 11, 2023. Numbers peak in February, 2022 at about 17,500, trending down to slightly over 2,000 in May, 2022, after which numbers remain relatively flat, around 3,000, apart from spikes to 4,000 in September, 2022, and just below 4,000 in the most recent week.
Graphic source: CDC COVID Data Tracker

Long COVID: At least 65 million people throughout the world have Long COVID, a post-COVID condition with over 200 potential symptoms impacting multiple organ systems and the ability to weaken the immune system through T cell exhaustion.

Long COVID is already being supplanted by “Longer COVID” as new figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that 30% of Long COVID sufferers have experienced symptoms for more than two years now.

The best way to prevent Long COVID is to not catch COVID in the first place. Continue to use all layers of protection available, including wearing a high-filtration mask, getting your bivalent booster, and purifying the air indoors.

Forecast: It is clear that we need as many people boosted as possible to reduce transmission and bring us closer to the end of the pandemic. Unfortunately, only 16% of individuals in the US have taken the bivalent booster dose. 

This underscores the need for us as a society to systematically address vaccine inequity.

One ray of hope in this dire time is that a new at-home test-to-treat program is being piloted by the NIH for people to get COVID treatment and testing from the safety of their living rooms.

This is a virtual community health program providing free COVID services including tests, telehealth sessions, and treatments at home. It is starting at Berks County, Pennsylvania and will be available for up to 8,000 eligible residents.

Program organizers are using this as an opportunity to learn and expand the program to the entire country in the foreseeable future. One can even imagine such a program eventually incorporating cutting-edge COVID treatments.

Even now, a monoclonal antibody called Actemra has already just been approved in the past couple months for hospitalized COVID patients. And more antibody treatments are currently being developed.

Invivyd is developing an omicron-proof antibody therapy with clinical trials starting this year. Atea is designing an experimental COVID pill that will be ready for clinical trials in early 2024, which is expected to be harder for viruses to resist.

Take Action: We envision a future where our freedom to live healthy lives is protected, and welcome you to join us in working to make that future a reality. Please join us at our upcoming webinar on Thursday to learn more about the People’s CDC and help us take action.

Illustration depicts a group of five young adults with varying skin tones and genders with masks, some waving or motioning to the viewer. Title and subtitle read: “People’s CDC Webinar: Communities Are Our Best Defense”. Date and time read: “January 19, 2023, 5 to 6:30PM EST”. A scannable QR code appears in the lower right.

To help those who catch COVID, we have put together What to Do if You Have COVID, a comprehensive guide on what you should do to best protect your long term health and the health of others in your community. Please take a look and share it far and wide.

We ask that you join us in writing to our elected officials to demand that they build a robust public health infrastructure to protect us and our loved ones during the ongoing pandemic, rather than ration away our healthcare and leave us to suffer.

Notes: 1) The numbers in this report were current as of 1/13/23. 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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