Hang in there, everyone. We are still on the upward slope. Be super cautious as we go back to work and school.
In August through October, the US was seeing 40,000-50,000 new cases per day. In early November, the cases reached 100,000 per day. By late November, the cases were 200,000 per day. January 2021, we hit 300,000 per day. That is what we call exponential spread.
That’s probably why it feels like COVID-19 everywhere in your community. Have you heard that where you are? I have. Lots of people are getting sick at the same time. Because we are in a new phase of the pandemic. – a 300,000-case-per-day phase. That always precedes hospitalizations. So, how can you be prepared? For many of us, we go back to work and school this week. Here’s why I suggest being really cautious. Knowledge is power, web-peeps. Wisdom and caution are too. Let me help…
✅ 𝐏𝐈𝐂𝐓𝐔𝐑𝐄 𝟏 – This is an important picture to look at and understand. Look at the legend – it’s the share of the population with a reported case per capita.
⭐ If you look at the orange, that is 1 in 20. The maroon is 1 in 10 or 1 in 8 being infected. Dang. Think about that as you make decisions.
⭐ Also, remember that these case counts are only CONFIRMED cases – there are likely many more cases not being diagnosed because of the lag in testing due to holidays. The high positivity rates in the US also indicate there are way more cases in the community than are being confirmed.
✅ 𝐏𝐈𝐂𝐓𝐔𝐑𝐄 𝟐 – This shows the top 11 states ranked in terms of positivity rates – indicating where we are not testing enough and catching infections in time to prevent more spread. You can see all states in the link provided. And, we have to continue paying attention to new case counts. It’s not as simple as “well, only the younger people are getting sick”. Many of those younger people (with no underlying health conditions) are in the hospital, have debilitating long-COVID, and sadly, some are dying. In addition, new case counts ALWAYS precede hospitalizations (spillover from the younger, less risky populations to more risky populations) and deaths.
✅ 𝐏𝐈𝐂𝐓𝐔𝐑𝐄 𝟑 – Speaking of hospitalizations, we continue to see the uphill climb – again, this is exponential increases. PICTURE 3 shows the change in hospitalizations since Christmas Eve. When you look at these, remember these are changes on TOP of hospitalizations that are already high. So, a decrease does not necessarily mean relief in hard-hit areas. On Christmas Eve, 78% of intensive care beds were occupied nationwide. In Texas, occupancy is 89%. (As a comparison, ICU occupancy is normally at 67%.) This is a multi-faceted problem – this is about available beds. For example, one of the hospitals in my county has 1 ICU bed left – that’s for COVID-19, car wreck, major surgery, etc. The other part of the problem is short-staffed hospitals with personnel and healthcare workers being sick, exposed to someone who was sick, or general shortages – especially in rural areas that are already understaffed and stretched.
✅ 𝐏𝐈𝐂𝐓𝐔𝐑𝐄 𝟒 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝟓 – You can see there’s a regional difference with the South being slammed. What’s the conclusion? Be careful. Many of us are going back to jobs and school. Be extra vigilant in mask wearing, distancing, and limiting interactions. With the holidays, most states and areas were not testing or reporting. Plus, positivity rates are still very high. All of that means to be extra cautious these next few weeks.
-Friendly neighbor epidemiologist
Picture 2 – https://covidactnow.org/?s=1484440
Pictures 3-5 – https://covidtracking.com/ ICU occupancy during pre-COVID years: https://www.sccm.org/Blog/March-2020/United-States-Resource-Availability-for-COVID-19