In Boston, the levels of coronavirus measured in sewage have more than quadrupled from the outbreak last winter. In Miami, more than a quarter of people test positive for COVID-19. And the San Francisco medical official estimates that, based on tests at his hospital, one in 12 people in the city with no symptoms of COVID-19 actually has the virus.
As the omicron variant sweeps across the country, daily cases are reaching unprecedented levels, breaking through the half-million mark, and are only expected to rise much more.
Some projections predict a peak of more than a million cases per day as early as mid-January. “It seems totally plausible to me, given that we’re already at almost 600,000,” said Sam Scarpino, director general of pathogen surveillance at the Pandemic Prevention Institute at the Rockefeller Foundation.
On the bright side, hospitalizations and deaths have increased more slowly, and it remains to be seen whether the death toll from omicron will reach the levels of previous increases. So far, the variant appears to naturally cause less severe disease, and widespread immunity, whether from vaccines or previous infections, has also been of critical importance.
However, the large numbers of people falling ill could continue to wreak havoc in communities and in essential services ranging from schools and hospitals to airlines and subways.
âIf the teachers and the custodial and cafeteria staff are sick, if everyone who runs the schools is sick, it may not be possible for us to close the schools,â said Scarpino.
As more Americans rely on rapid tests, the results of which are not released to public health authorities, official case numbers are becoming less reliable. As a result, other means of measuring propagation are gaining in importance. Wastewater, for example, has proven to be a reliable indicator of the prevalence of the virus, and the latest measurements confirm an unprecedented peak.
Around the same time last year, an analysis found 1,500 copies of COVID-19 RNA per milliliter in Massachusetts water, said Newsha Ghaeli, co-founder and president of Biobot Analytics, who follows COVID wastewater in 20 states. Now it’s up to 7,000 copies per milliliter, she said.
Previous research suggests that virus peaks in wastewater precede peaks in clinical cases by four to 10 days, she said, although those studies predate vaccines. âThe data may sound scary, but we are ready,â she said.
COVID-19 levels in wastewater are rising elsewhere in the United States In Orange County Florida, which includes Orlando, COVID-19 levels this week were double their previous summer highs, as the delta variant peaked.
Omicron’s aggressive assault pushed new daily COVID-19 cases in Florida to a record 58,013 on December 29, more than double the pre-Christmas levels, according to the CDC. The wave is starting to stress hospitals, where daily reported cases have broken records all week. As of Thursday, 4,000 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state, almost doubling in three days, according to the Florida Hospital Association. That’s still a long way from the summer outbreak of the delta variant, when hospitalizations from COVID-19 peaked at 17,121.
The arrival of omicron, however, has sparked chaos at COVID-19 test sites statewide. In Miami, cars lined up for 10 or more blocks at massive drive-thru test sites in county parks that two weeks ago were nearly empty. When two dozen public libraries started offering free home test kits, people started lining up at 4 a.m., quickly emptying supplies. To date, nearly 28% of those tested have been positive for COVID-19, according to CDC data.
In Puerto Rico, COVID-19 cases have increased 45-fold in the past two weeks, even as the island boasts of being the most vaccinated U.S. jurisdiction. The health department said on Friday that 80% of the eligible population had at least two injections.
In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott has called on the federal government to send medical personnel, therapeutic drugs and testing equipment to help the state fight the latest wave. The request targets six counties including the Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin areas, all of which are seeing alarming growth in positivity rates and hospitalizations, Abbott said in an emailed statement.
In the end, said Scarpino of the Rockefeller Foundation, the increase in the number of cases is so great that it seems to him and his colleagues that someone was playing with a mathematical model of the spread of the disease. and changed a setting so that infections “go through the roof”. âââ (C) 2021 Bloomberg LP Visit bloomberg.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.