People’s CDC COVID-19 Weather Report


The Weather: About 45% of all counties in the country are experiencing substantial or higher transmission levels based on the available data. Notably, Iowa no longer reports COVID data to the CDC as of April 1, 2023.

Map and table show COVID transmission levels by US county as of April 6, 2023 based on the number of COVID cases per 100,000 population and percent positivity in the past 7 days. Color coding is: Low to Moderate pale yellow, Substantial orange, High red, Very High brown, and Extremely High black. The US shows mixed red, orange and pale yellow, with areas of pale yellow predominating on the west coast and Northeast. Iowa is pale yellow with no data reporting. Text in the bottom right: 44.65 percent of the US counties are experiencing substantial or higher transmission. Transmission Level table shows 0.38 percent of counties (0.04 percent by population) as Extremely High, 0.48 percent of counties (0.06 percent population) Very High, 26.23 percent of counties (20.25 percent population) High, 17.57 percent of counties (23.46 percent population) Substantial, and 55.35 percent of counties (56.19 percent population) Low to Moderate. The People's CDC created the graphic from CDC data.

Although the CDC’s pastel-colored and misleading “Community Levels” map is featured more prominently on the CDC website, the more informative Community Transmission map is still available to find data for your county.

Wins: Seattle healthcare organizations have demonstrated the moral courage to protect patients from death and long-term illness by adopting a joint consensus statement to continue masking in healthcare facilities. This shows us that healthcare workers have every right and ability to defy malicious orders to remove universal masking from hospitals in order to protect us all from experiencing the dangerous risk of COVID reinfection at every hospital visit. If you are a healthcare worker who understands the serious danger that dropping these protections poses, know this: you are not alone, and we are stronger when we stand up and fight back.

Variants: This week, Kraken (XBB.1.5) makes up 88.3% of cases, which is a slight increase from last week’s Weather Report. Hyperion (XBB.1.9.1) continues to grow in proportion, now at 5.1% of cases.

A stacked bar chart with weeks on the x-axis shows weeks and y-axis as percentage of viral lineages among infections. Title of bar chart reads “Weighted and Nowcast Estimates in United States for Weeks of 1/1/2023-4/8/2023.” The recent 3 weeks are labeled as Nowcast projections. The title of the table is “Nowcast Estimates in United States for 4/2/2023-4/8/2023.” XBB 1.9.1 (blue) has emerged and has increased slightly to 5.1 percent of current week infections. XBB.1.5 (dark purple) predominates and remains approximately stable, making up about 88.3 percent of current week infections. BQ 1.1, XBB, XBB.1.5.1, BQ.1, and CH1.1.1 are smaller percentages represented by a handful of other colors as small slivers.
Graphic source: CDC COVID Data Tracker: Variant Proportions

Hyperion continues to rapidly eat into Kraken’s domination in the mountain states and parts of the Midwest, and is slowly increasing across the country as it is now minimally 3 percent of all cases in each region everywhere.

Regional difference map of the US with 10 regions each depicted as shades of gray. In general, the numbers start in the Northeast and increase as they move south and then westward. Title reads “Nowcast Estimates for 4/2/2023 to 4/8/2023 by HHS Region.” Each region has a colored pie chart showing variant proportions. Legend at bottom right reads “Regional proportions from specimens collected the week ending 4/8/2023 (Nowcast).” XBB1.9.1 (blue) is highlighted in all pie charts. It makes up 18.4 percent of the pie in region 7, 7.6 percent in region 8 (midwest), and 4.6 percent in region 4 (southeast). It is between 3.2 to 4.4 percent in all other regions.
Graphic source: CDC COVID Data Tracker: Variant Proportions

Wastewater Monitoring: Wastewater levels show a recent leveling off to slight downward trend, regionally and nationally. Nationwide average copies per milliliter remain at least twice as high as lower values seen in March 2022 and about 7 times as high as the levels seen in May 2021.

Top title reads “Wastewater: Effective SARS-CoV-2 virus concentration (copies / mL of sewage). Bottom title reads, “Source: Wastewater data from Biobot Analytics, Inc.” Line graph shows the levels of COVID detected in wastewater by US region, each region with a different color trend line. The y-axis shows copies per mL of sewage and the x-axis shows time labels between Feb 26, 2023 and April 2, 2023. A legend map of the US in the center shows the West region as green, South as pink, Midwest as purple, and Northeast as orange. The national average is shown as a dashed light cyan line. Virus concentrations show a plateau or slight decrease since the end of March. A table on the right shows values for April 5, 2023: Nationwide is 281 copies/mL, Midwest 336 copies/mL, Northeast 247 copies/mL, South 256 copies/mL and West 337 copies/mL.
Graphic source: Biobot Analytics

A recent article from Scientific American highlighted that funding for wastewater testing is not necessarily certain. The majority of US wastewater testing sites are funded through the CDC’s National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS), which is fully funded through 2025. However, wastewater testing availability is uneven across the country, and uncertain funding may make it more difficult to expand access to this important surveillance method. This is especially dire as we need fully funded wastewater testing in the coming years as testing rates go down and it becomes harder to accurately track the continuing pandemic using case counts.

Hospitalizations: Hospitalizations for confirmed COVID cases remain high at national rates of 3.11 per 100,000 for ages 70+ and 0.63 per 100,000 for all ages as of April 4.

Image of line graphs titled “New Admissions of Patients with Confirmed COVID-19” from August 1, 2020 to Apr 4, 2023. A line graph showing hospitalizations for all ages is on the left, and is broken down by age group on the right. The y-axis is labeled “New Admissions per 100,000 Population” and ranges from 0 to 7 for all ages and 0 to 20 by age group. The x-axis is time from August 1, 2020 to Apr 29, 2023. Current hospitalizations are at a rate of 0.63 per 100,000 people. 70+ (solid red-purple) is the highest for the whole graph with a larger gap within the last year, followed by 60-69 (dashed dark pink), and then progressively decreasing by decade, with the last 2 groups being 0-17 years (solid gold) and 18-29 years (dashed light cyan). In the last month, all ages are slightly decreasing. Age 70+ admissions are at about 3.11 per 100,000. The other age groups are about 1 or less.
Graphic Source:

Hospital-Acquired COVID Cases: These hospitalizations don’t reflect the growing number of people who are getting COVID from going to hospitals as we remove protections. As a stark reminder, back in January 2022 during the height of Omicron, a record-breaking 3,000+ patients were getting COVID in the hospitals each week. Even now in 2023, over 138,000 COVID infections have occurred in hospitals already over three months, matching closely with how many we had back in 2021 up to this point. Note that these are all undercounts, as people are not tested after the end of their hospital visit.

COVID is even more transmissible now than ever, so clearly the dropping of basic protections such as universal masking in healthcare settings will result in increased COVID transmission in hospitals yet again – and more deaths and illness, something unacceptable in a society where we have the tools to fight this and claim to be a land of the free – it is hard for people to be free if they are sick or dead, after all.

Image of line graphs titled “Hospital-Acquired COVID-19 Cases” from years 2020 to 2023. The X axis shows weeks labeled from 0 to 50, and the Y axis is COVID Cases Caught at Hospital labeled from 0 to 30,000. Each year is represented by a different line style. 2020 is a navy dotted line, 2021 orange dashed, 2022 green dot and dash, 2023 black solid line. The lines are all overlapping, with a slight dip around weeks 20 through 35 and higher values around 0 and 50. The highest peak is in 2022 within the first 10 weeks, when cases rose above 30,000. The 2020 line starts at 0 and begins to increase around week 10. The line for 2023 closely overlaps with 2021, beginning above 15,000 at week 0, and ending above 5,000 cases around week 14.

Deaths: For the week ending April 5, 2023, 1,773 people died of COVID nationally. At least 1,127,104 people have in total died from COVID in the US. As with COVID cases, Iowa is no longer reporting COVID deaths beginning April 1, 2023.

Forecast: The forecast is uncertain. Although COVID transmission and hospitalizations appear to be decreasing and wastewater COVID levels are stable to slightly decreasing, far too many are dying from this preventable disease each week. Multilayered precautions to prevent COVID transmission are warranted for all of us, and continue reading for additional ways to support COVID protections.

Long COVID: A new report from a preprint visually shows us that the SARS-COV-2 viral spike protein persists in the brain over the long term, even in dead patients. Check out this twitter thread for some eye-opening video visuals of this. This demonstrates a direct link from catching COVID to neural cell death and long-term neurological symptoms, yet another reason why we should try to avoid getting Long COVID for the sake of our freedom to live healthy lives.

COVID Impacts in Dementia: Relatedly, Neuroscience News reports that COVID infection may accelerate multiple types of dementia. Although this is a small study of only 14 patients, dementia has already been identified as a high risk condition for severe COVID infection by the CDC. Also, these patients may be at a higher risk of exposure, often residing in nursing homes and other facilities that may not provide adequate COVID protections.

Take Action: The best way to avoid getting Long COVID is to avoid catching COVID in the first place, and to that end many of us have compiled our own ways to ask for safer in-person meetings. For example, check out Noha Aboeleta’s thread on how she has asked for safer in-person meetings, to positive reception. The biggest takeaway is that it is always a good thing to at least bring this up as people tend to be willing to do the right thing if told what to do to make meetings safer.

If your hospital or healthcare provider has dropped universal masking, you can fight back by knowing and using your American with Disabilities Act (ADA) rights. You can invoke these rights even if you are not disabled, as you can claim to be at high risk for severe outcomes from COVID, which is the truth for all of us in this environment of few COVID protections and high risk of Long COVID. 

Tell them in writing that you are making a formal request for universal masking and proper air filtration as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA, and offer to bring masks or a portable air purifier if they do not have these. If the secretary does not know anything, ask to talk to the manager. Ask them to give you their answer in writing. If they tell you “no,” then they have broken the law. 

Doctors are required to provide reasonable accommodations under the ADA, so you can file an ethics violation of their licensure to the state board. You can also alternatively file a complaint with the Department of Justice, or if you have the means you have strong legal standing for suing them. The doctors’ offices and hospitals will feel the pressure and must accept your accommodation to avoid this issue. All in all, hospitals are violating ethics standards and the law by dropping universal masking, and we need to hold them accountable to bring  precautions.

Notes: 1) The numbers in this report were current as of 4/06. 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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