People’s CDC COVID-19 Weather Report


The Weather

All areas of the country are now at High or Very High levels of COVID Transmission.

A color coded map of the United States displaying Current SARS-CoV-2 Wastewater Viral Activity level. Most states display “very high” to “high” COVID-19 levels. 
For state by state information, visit 
“Source: CDC National Wastewater Surveillance System as of Jan. 6”
Graphic source: CDC

According to the new CDC National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS) dashboard, all regions are experiencing increased COVID wastewater levels, with the Midwest being the highest. Nationally, wastewater levels are “very high.” Driven by the JN.1 variant, we are currently seeing the second highest wastewater levels since BA.1, the first Omicron wave in January 2022.

Graphic depicts a line graph with “Wastewater Viral Activity Level” indicated on the left-hand vertical axis, going from 0-18, and “week ending” across the horizontal axis, with date labels ranging from 12/31/22 to 12/02/23. A key at the bottom indicates line colors and indicates “select a geography to add or remove it from the visualization”. National is black, Midwest is orange, South is purple, Northeast is light blue, and West is green. Viral activity levels peak around 12/31/23  and then trend downwards, until going up again between 08/05/23 and 9/16/23, then dipping back down around 10/28/23 and then heading back up around 11/11/23 to reach levels at, and then above the end of 2022. All geographical regions are still trending upward.
Graphic source: CDC

We continue to stress the importance of mitigating the spread of COVID, especially during this time of increasing transmission. Please continue to wear a high quality respirator mask (such as an N95) in indoor settings of any capacity, and postpone crowded events. In addition, make sure to take appropriate precautions when meeting with others.


Amidst this new surge, many hospitals – some responding to staffing shortages, and some responding to public pressure – have reinstated mask mandates.

We celebrate the work of organizers across the country including those at Care Not COVID Chicagoland, COVID Safe Maryland, COVID Advocacy NY, and MaskBlocs around the country who organized a call-in to hospitals last week to demand they reinstate – and make permanent – masking policies. 

A coalition protest by Sacramento Jewish Voices for Peace, Sunrise Movement Sacramento, International Jewish Anti-Zionist network, Bay Area JVP, & Youth 4 Palestine Sac organized a fully masked (N95!) and tested (2 days in a row!) pro-Palestine protest at the CA State Capitol in Sacramento last week. 

ACTUP’s New York chapter has voted to require and provide KN95 masks at all upcoming meetings and actions “due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and recent surge, as well as to increase safety from surveillance at protests.” 

Solidarity means we protect each other, and these organizers are showing us the way!


JN.1, a BA.2.86 descendent, is rising to prominence quickly in the United States. Nowcast estimates predict that by 1/6/2024, JN.1 will account for 61.6% of circulating variants. According to preliminary non-peer reviewed data, the newest (XBB.1.5) booster helps to protect against the JN.1 variant. Conversely, older vaccines did not offer significant protection against JN.1. 

It is important to receive the updated booster, especially since uptake is currently low–according to a poll conducted by Gallup, only 29% of 6,000 participants surveyed received the updated vaccine as of December 7, 2023. This is in stark contrast to flu vaccine rates, polled at 49%. This is likely due to an imbalance in public health messaging–while efforts were poured into advertising the flu vaccine, not as much emphasis was placed on receiving the updated booster. 

A stacked bar chart with x-axis as weeks and y-axis as percentage of viral lineages among infections. Title of the bar chart reads “Weighted Estimates: Variant proportions based on reported genomic sequencing results” over the weeks from 9/30/23 to 12/9/23 and “Nowcast model-based projected estimates of variant proportions” over the weeks from 12/23/23 to 1/6/2024. In the Nowcast Estimates for 1/6/24, JN.1 (dark purple) is projected to be the highest at 61.6 percent, HV.1 (dark gray) is estimated at 14.8 percent, JD 1.1 (neon green) is 4.1 percent, HK.3 (light blue) is 4 percent. Other variants are at smaller percentages represented by a handful of other colors as small slivers.
Graphic source: CDC Variant Tracker


Weekly COVID hospitalizations continue to trend upward, now at 34,798 for the week ending December 30, 2023. The numbers for currently hospitalized patients with COVID are also increasing, currently at 25,430. In terms of regional trends, the Northeast and Midwest are seeing higher rates of hospitalization. When reviewing these numbers we must also remember that patients who are already admitted for other reasons and are suffering from nosocomial, or hospital-acquired infections, are not accounted for in this data.

Title reads: “COVID-19 New Hospital Admissions per 100,000 Population, by Week, in The United States, Reported to CDC.” A graph shows a left y-axis, in blue, of weekly hospital admissions ranging from 0 to 140,000, a right y-axis, in orange, of weekly New Hospital Admissions due to COVID-19 ranging from 0 to 40 percent, and an x-axis of dates ranging from Jan 11, ‘20 to Dec 30, ‘23. Weekly COVID-19 New Hospital Admissions are represented with blue bars and weekly COVID-19 New Hospital Admissions per 100,000 Population are represented with an orange line. Weekly COVID-19 New Hospital Admissions and Weekly New COVID-19 Hospital Admissions per 100,000 Populationpeaked in mid-2020, early 2021, mid-2021, and early 2022. Currently, weekly new admissions and weekly new admissions per 100,000 population are going up.
Graphic source: CDC Data Tracker

Hospitals are overwhelmed. Healthcare workers are demanding support from administrators. Read this account of ER nurses at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx who say that the hospital executives are refusing to open up vacant areas of the hospital to accommodate the surge in patients – leaving the ER dangerously overcrowded and forcing patients into hallway beds.


A new cross-sectional study published in Nature Communications found that Long COVID patients with post-exertional malaise (PEM) exhibit skeletal muscle changes that are exacerbated by exercise. PEM patients are also found to have unique pathophysiological changes, such as amyloid-containing deposits in muscle tissue. These findings contribute to mounting evidence that COVID infection can significantly damage the body, and more research is necessary in order to fully understand manifestations of Long COVID. If readers are curious, summarized findings can be found in this X (Twitter) thread, penned by one of the authors.

Long COVID research is important. This is why it is essential that all Long COVID research centers adhere to the strictest infection prevention protocols. Read this account of a person disabled by Long COVID who dropped out of a study because the study personnel refused to mask. We saw this same phenomenon last spring at Stanford during a study of Paxlovid’s impact on Long COVID rates.

Take Action

This week Jewish Currents put out a report on The Epidemiological War on Gaza, which amplified WHO’s January 2nd announcement that “there are currently 424,639 [reported] cases of infectious disease in Gaza,” an area with only 2 million residents total. With the ongoing destruction of hospitals and deprivation of food and water and environmental pollution from continued bombardment, the occupying forces have ensured the conditions for continued deaths even in times of ceasefire. Call your representatives and join a protest this week to demand a ceasefire and the reconstruction of Palestinian medical infrastructure towards fair health access for all peoples!

Let us support Massachusetts General Brigham Long COVID patients by telling the hospital to 1) meet all patient accessibility requests including wearing N95 respirators upon request and 2) make universal masking their new standard of care. They can be contacted through their contact form, or by calling 1-800-856-1983.

Rashida Tlaib sent out an email blast informing constituents of the current surge. The message included acknowledgment of COVID’s airborne nature, recommendation to wear a well-fitting mask, a link to access free tests through USPS, and information on updated vaccines and COVID transmission. Let’s contact Congresswoman Tlaib and thank her for this invaluable action! 

Future Weather Reports

Starting next week, we will begin to publish the Weather Report on a bi-weekly basis. This will allow our team to focus on crafting action campaigns to push for a comprehensive public health approach to the pandemic, including mask mandates, paid sick leave policies, testing access, Long COVID research, next generation vaccines, indoor air quality regulations, and more. We hope to see you in our expanded actions to end the COVID pandemic soon to come!

Share this: