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To Mask or Not to Mask - The Surge.is Here

OUR SURGE IS HERE!  Last night the Covid Stats in NYS, NYC, and Manhattan jumped to 3.7%, 3.8%, and 4.7%!!   

Over the last several months the Omicron Variant BA.1 cases dropped very rapidly, and then case numbers plateaued at 1.0 to 1.5% for 12 days in NY.  The last variant data was published on Mar 5th, which is at least 1 week after the samples were collected.  At the time our Region 2 (NY, NJ, Puerto Rica and the Virgin Islands) had 17.3% Omicron BA.2 and 83.7% BA.1.  The transmissibility of BA.2 is 1.5X greater than BA.1, and BA.1 was the most transmissible variant to date.  Right now cases are increasing in Britain, Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands, and the percent of the BA.2 variant is increasing each week. Throughout the pandemic the UK was a bell weather for the next variant to spread in the US. It is feared that the next 4-6 weeks here we will see the surge in BA.2 cases. 

Over a year ago one of my Covid-19 posts was about the use of wastewater testing to detect early Covid case increases in geographic areas.   At that time the Univ. of Arizona was collecting and testing waste water from individual dormitories on campus, and an increase in the virus in the waste water was the first sign that the Covid cases had spread to students in that dorm. Shedding of the virus in the waste water system from infected people occurs even before they have symptoms.  There is now a well developed wastewater testing system in 37 states for monitoring the presence of the virus.  In CDC news from today, they reported a "bump in the virus" in the wastewater in 1/3rd of American cities - and the northeast had the most notable change.  Read Below 


After such a rapid fall in Omicron cases why should there now be a rise in cases?  There are 3 possible reasons:  Omicron BA.2 is more transmissible, it is spreading because all of the mandates have been lifted and people want to return to a normal life, and there is waning immunity.  45% of Americans were infected with Omicron BA.1 and they will be protected from BA.2.  The highest infection rate will be in the unvaccinated, and so far the infections and the hospitalizations are going up at the same time in Europe instead of with the usual lag of two weeks - which no one can figure out,  ICU cases are not going up - so the infections may not be more severe. There re are still 1200 Covid deaths in the US per day, before a surge.  The vaccine efficacy is about 77% - the same for BA.1 and BA.2  The UK rate of fully vaccinated people is 86% (US 67%) and boosted 67% (US 50%) which might mean UK has less severe cases because of their level of vaccination.  

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