How Big is Latest COVID-19 Wave, Should You Worry?

2022-05-28 06:32:35 By : Mr. Andy Leon

Cases of COVID-19 are once again rising, but if there’s a silver lining to be found, it’s that hospitalizations appear to be plateauing.

In addition, there are signs the latest increase is peaking in the New England states, following the pattern seen last month in the United Kingdom.

Nonetheless, now into the third year of the pandemic, you may be feeling the fatigue of hypervigilance. We’ve gone from flattening the curve to counting the waves as the death toll eclipsed 1 million people in the United States earlier this month.

So let’s just get down to the practical matters as they stand today.

What do you need to know about this current wave as well as how can you best protect yourself and those around you?

Earlier this month, the federal government announced a third round of free at-home COVID-19 tests would be made available to order.

There are undoubtedly benefits to having free at-home tests.

“At-home tests can be an important tool for people to find out if they have COVID-19 and modify behavior and seek medical attention accordingly,” Dr. Jimmy Johannes, a pulmonologist and critical care medicine specialist at MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center California, told Healthline.

“Easy access to home testing can facilitate behaviors that can reduce the risk of transmission. Further, easy access to home testing can help those with COVID-19 infection get early antiviral treatment,” he said.

“But since at-home rapid COVID-19 test results are often not reported to public health systems, I can imagine that they can lead to an undercount of COVID-19 positivity rates,” Johannes added.

Indeed, while the benefits of quick self-administered tests are certainly worth it, they do have the potential to skew the official counts of positive infections. Easier to count is the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

U.S. hospitalizations reached an all-time high in January amid the spread of the Omicron variant and then declined continuously until mid-April. Since then, hospitalizations have been on the rise, but they seem to be leveling out at about a sixth of the January peak.

The 7-day average for daily deaths is about 25 percent lower as we reach the end of May than it was in mid-April. For the time being, this appears to be holding stable.

Based on the numbers in the United Kingdom and now in New England, it appears that this most current wave takes between 6 and 7 weeks to reach its peak once it’s begun.

The BA.2 Omicron lineage is the predominant variant in the United States today, making up slightly more than half of all cases.

Compared to earlier strains of the novel coronavirus, it appears to be more easily spread but causes less severe illnesses, partially explaining the differences between positivity, hospitalization, and death rates.

Dr. Charles Bailey, the medical director for infection prevention at Providence St. Joseph Hospital and Providence Mission Hospital in Orange County, California, told Healthline that the newer variants probably aren’t the only causes of the increase in cases, though.

“I believe it’s being driven more by social behavior along with the vulnerability derived from waning protection following an infection or prior vaccination,” Bailey said. “If the newest COVID subvariant were the primary driver, I would have expected a sharper upturn in cases.”

Johannes agreed that social behaviors were likely to be a factor in increased infections.

“I think the main drivers for the increase… are people loosening up precautions against COVID-19 as well as more contagious variants in circulation,” he said.

If you’re not yet vaccinated and you’re medically able to do so, experts say it would help to prevent the spread of the disease

While many people who get COVID-19 might experience mild symptoms — or even no symptoms at all — it’s important to remember that each infection makes it easier for the disease to spread to vulnerable populations who are at risk for more serious illnesses.

More infections also increase the likelihood of further mutations that could lead to more transmissible or deadly variants.

Ultimately, it’s up to every individual to decide what amount of risk they’re willing to accept in their day-to-day life, and available precautions such as vaccination and mask-wearing are tools to lower this risk.

And if you’re feeling worn down by the pandemic you’re not alone, even if this isn’t one of the numbers that gets talked about as much.

If this latest wave has you feeling depressed or anxious, reach out to a doctor or mental health professional.

Experts say COVID-19 vaccines in the near future could be more targeted and administered on a more regular basis

Experts say even mild cases of COVID-19 can develop into long COVID, although there is evidence that vaccinations can lower the risk of developing it

Experts say people who've tested positive for COVID-19 can open windows and utilize air filtration systems to help lower the risk in their household

Some patients who have taken Pfizer Inc.’s oral antiviral Paxlovid are reporting that their COVID-19 symptoms returned after initially improving when…

You might be interested in donating plasma to help out in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn how vaccination affects your eligibility.

Oxygen levels can drop when you have COVID-19. Learn about using a pulse oximeter at home, including when to call the doctor or seek emergency care.

Paxlovid has proven to be effective in preventing serious illness with COVID-19 and now there is plenty of supply at pharmacies

Here is what to know about two different companies with hair loss treatment options.