People’s CDC COVID-19 Weather Report


The Weather

More than half of all US states remain at high to very high levels of SARS-CoV-2 detected in wastewater since January 25, 2024. As more people face reinfections, COVID remains a serious disease and we recommend that you continue to take precautions as the risk for infection is high at this time.

A map of the United States color coded in shades of red, orange, and gray displaying Current SARS-CoV-2 Wastewater Viral Activity level, where deeper tones correlate to higher viral activity and gray indicates insufficient data. Most states display a deep red “very high” to orange “high” COVID-19 levels with 5 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam and Washington D.C. reporting insufficient data. Text on map reads “33 out of 54 states and territories have High or Very High Wastewater Levels. Covid-19 Wastewater Map 2/1/2024. People’s CDC. Source: CDC.”
Graphic source: CDC

Although wastewater levels have dropped for multiple US regions, wastewater levels in the South have climbed higher than we’ve seen for any region this season and are currently the second highest peak we’ve experienced in the duration of the pandemic. This is a particularly concerning rebound as at the beginning of the year, Southern levels were experiencing a sharp decline. CDC’s national and regional wastewater data over time also show high levels nationally. As a reminder, the last two weeks are provisional data, indicated by a gray shaded area on the graph, therefore these values may change as additional wastewater sites report data. We want to remind you that multiple layers of precautions will protect against a COVID infection.

A line graph with “Wastewater Viral Activity Level” indicated on the left-hand vertical axis, going from 0-15, and “week ending” across the horizontal axis, with date labels ranging from 1/28/23 to 12/30/23, with the graph extending through 1/27/24. A key at the bottom indicates line colors. National is black, Midwest is orange, South is purple, Northeast is light blue, and West is green. Viral activity levels in the South peak around 1/27/24  between 13 and 14, having grown from between 4 and 7 beginning on 11/25/23. The graph indicates an earlier peak around 9/02/23, between 4 and 7. Within the gray-shaded provisional data provided for the last 2 weeks, most geographical regions begin to trend downward except for the South and the Northeast. Text above the graph reads “Nationally, the wastewater viral activity level is high.  COVID-19 Wastewater Trends 1/27/2024. Text below the People’s CDC. Source: CDC.”
Graphic source: CDC


We thank many of you this week for joining us and in signing on with our letter to the ACLU regarding the actions taken by the CDC’s Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) that previously weakened already insufficient protocols employed within healthcare settings. We had many concerns with the actions taken by HICPAC. As a result of your actions, as well as support by many of our allies at previous HICPAC meetings, the CDC responded on January 23, 2024, with a request to consider clarification questions in distinguishing masks and N95 respirators. The CDC asked HICPAC to consider these questions prior to submission to the Federal Register for more public comment. This success demonstrates the importance of working together and holding the CDC accountable for ensuring safe healthcare settings for all patients and healthcare workers. You may also submit an additional comment or a reply to the CDC’s official response to HICPAC at the bottom of the news release.

As many healthcare systems and public health departments have restored masking in healthcare settings only when facing public pressure, without further action this important measure may not last. We ask you to support national and local groups to advocate for everyone’s safety in maintaining universal masking in all healthcare and healthcare-like settings. Universal masking can become a standard of preventative care rather than a short term response to infectious disease already surging.


JN.1 remains the dominant variant in the United States, and is approximately 93.1% of circulating variants as of 2/3/2024. HV.1 drops even further to 2.3%, and all other variants are estimated to make up less than 2% each. The updated 2023-2024 COVID vaccines updated with the XBB.1.5 variant were recently shown by a MMWR report to be at least 49% to 60% effective against symptomatic infections during the Fall season, from late September 2023 to mid-January 2024. By ensuring additional precautions including testing, masking, ventilation, and air filtration, the additive effect will ensure a higher effectiveness.

Vaccine uptake remains limited with only 21.8% of adults and 11.6% of children receiving the updated COVID vaccine as of 2/02/24. The Bridge Program remains available for those underinsured or without insurance for no-cost access to these vaccines.

Two stacked bar charts with two-week periods for sample collection dates on the horizontal x-axis and percentage of viral lineages among infections on the vertical y-axis. Title of the first bar chart reads “Weighted Estimates: Variant proportions based on reported genomic sequencing results” with collection dates ranging from 10/15/23 to 2/3/2024. The second chart’s title reads “Nowcast: model-based projected estimates of variant proportions,” dates ranging from 1/20/24 to 2/3/2024. In the Nowcast Estimates for the period ending on 1/20/24, JN.1 (dark purple) is projected to be the highest at 84.3 percent, HV.1 (dark gray) is estimated at 5.8 percent, JG.3 (green) is 1.9%,  JD 1.1 (neon green) is 1.7 percent, and HK.3 (light blue) is 1.5 percent. In the Nowcast Estimates for the two weeks ending on 2/3/24, JN.1 (dark purple) is projected to increase to 93.1%, with HV.1 (dark gray) decreasing to 2.3%. Other variants are at smaller percentages represented by a handful of other colors as small slivers.
Graphic source: CDC Variant Tracker


A downward trend continues with new hospital admissions, currently at 22,636 the week of January 27, 2024. We still do not know the total number of hospital-acquired infections, since reporting over these numbers was halted in May of 2023. Despite this decrease in new hospital admissions, please consider that wastewater levels are still high nationwide, and that hospitalization does not reflect the current amount of circulating virus. Please continue to exercise caution and wear a well-fitting respirator indoors.

A combination line and bar graph with weeks on the horizontal x-axis with date labels ranging from 1/11/2020 to 1/27/2024 (data begins to appear on 8/8/20). On the left-hand vertical y-axis (in blue), bars indicate “weekly COVID-19 New Hospital Admissions,” measured in thousands and ranging from 0 to 140,000. On the right-hand vertical y-axis (in orange), a line indicates “weekly COVID-19 new hospital admissions per 100K,” measured in hundreds of thousands and ranging from 0 to 40. Weekly COVID-19 New Hospital Admissions and Weekly New COVID-19 Hospital Admissions per 100K Population peaked in mid-2020, early 2021, mid-2021, early 2022, mid 2022, early 2023 and early January 2024. In the most recent week ending Jan 27, 2024, Weekly COVID-19 New Hospital Admissions total 22,636 and Weekly COVID-19 New Hospital Admissions 100K population are 6.82 per 100,000, both lower than the previous week.
Graphic source: CDC COVID Data Tracker

Testing and Treatment

A study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases (CID) found that SARS-CoV-2 viral load peaks around the fourth day of symptom onset. This may suggest why tests do not seem to be picking up positive cases early on. This does not mean that transmission is unlikely prior to the fourth day of symptoms, but rather, one should continue to employ serial testing and isolation measures beyond the first few days of illness. If you have tested negative on day one or two with a rapid antigen test (RAT), you may still have a COVID infection, unless you test negative on day four or five with a RAT. 

Because of a lack of RAT sensitivity, people may mistakenly believe they do not have COVID, and both enter isolation too late and exit isolation prematurely, leading to increased transmission within the population. For this reason, it is important to wear a high quality respirator at the onset of COVID-like symptoms, regardless of a negative test. We must demand for more sensitive testing and no-cost access to better tests (such as PCR), as well as an infrastructure that allows for longer sick leave and sick-time pay. At this time, limited testing options remain at no cost including the Test to Treat program and Walgreens PCR program as well as treatment options including the no cost antiviral program operated by Pfizer and supported by Health and Human Services. Remember to check for regional offerings as well such as the “Express Testing” PCR program in New York City, which could be more accessible to you.


On February 1, the CDC published in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) that the most recently updated monovalent XBB.1.5 booster offered 54% increased protection against symptomatic (self-reported) COVID. Note, the study was limited as it did not evaluate the effectiveness against asymptomatic COVID cases. The CDC recommends that all individuals older than 6 months of age should receive the updated vaccine. If you have not yet received your vaccine, please do so.

Current updated vaccines being somewhat effective against symptomatic acute infection is not enough, and we should demand for sterilizing immunity of COVID through vaccines. Intranasal vaccines, which may induce a more robust mucosal immunity based on animal models, seem to be in the pipeline. However, it is unclear whether production of such vaccines is receiving appropriate funding or will be available to the public anytime soon.

The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is having a meeting on February 28-29th and COVID vaccines will be on the agenda. We will be sending information on a request for actions in the coming few weeks on how to participate in ensuring the CDC takes appropriate steps to protect the public from ongoing COVID infections.

Take Action

Further research and investment is needed for effective treatments against Long COVID. PCORI, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, is seeking individuals to represent patient voices on their advisory panels. This is an invaluable opportunity to advocate for Long COVID research as this research and funding organization has an annual budget of nearly 300 million dollars for medical research. Applications are due March 29, 2024 and those selected to be on their advisory panels can participate virtually. Lending your voice to this is invaluable.

We must also ensure constant access to no or low cost high quality masks and respirators. Request that the federal government ensure that there remains ongoing local manufacturing of high quality masks and N95 respirators to prevent a future shortage by contacting your representatives. 

Many people rely on pulse oximeters in healthcare and at-home settings as a medical device to check blood-oxygen levels during an active COVID infection and recovery. For several decades, it has been established that these medical devices have failed to measure accurately when used with darker skin color. In response, a recent lawsuit has been filed against 12 manufacturers. In addition, the FDA is currently seeking comments through the Federal Register on this matter. We ask you to submit a public comment asking the FDA to act immediately and ensure future pulse oximeters are properly manufactured to support all people.

Notes: 1) The numbers in this report were current as of 2/2/2024. 2) Changes in testing access as well as data reporting have led many federal data sources to become less reliable. 3) Check out the links throughout & see our website for more! 4) Subscribe to our newsletter: People’s CDC | Substack.

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