The Latest Wave of Covid – The New York Times


A month ago, Covid-19 cases had started to increase in parts of New England and Mountain West. But they continued to decline in most parts of the northern United States, as well as in Canada.

This pattern seemed to suggest that a nationwide cold-weather wave of Covid was unlikely anytime soon. Prediction models collected by the CDC agreed: they predicted a continued decline in Covid cases in the United States in November.

Instead, cases have increased by about 30% this month.

It is a maddening development. Almost two years after Covid started to spread, it’s still here, creating anxiety again as Americans prepare to gather for the holidays. Today’s newsletter will try to help you understand the pre-Thanksgiving wave.

The seemingly obvious explanation for the recent increase in cases is the weather. As temperatures drop, more and more activity has moved indoors, where the Covid virus tends to spread. And the weather is sure to play a role in the surge.

But I mentioned Canada above – as well as the cold parts of the United States where the number of cases was not increasing a month ago – for a reason. If weather was truly the dominant cause, recent Covid patterns would be different. They would correspond more closely to the temperature models.

As unsatisfactory as it may be, the full explanation for the surge remains unclear. There is still a lot more scientists don’t know about how this virus spreads than they know, as Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota has been saying for months.

Media coverage and expert commentary too often fail to recognize this point. We offer clear explanations of the ups and downs of the virus – like the weather, school calendars, mask habits, even sporting events – when the reality is more complicated. (Here are some detailed examples.)

The bad news about the unpredictability of the virus is that surges may surprise us: The absence of an increase in Covid across much of northern North America a month ago was not as reassuring as ‘it did not appear.

The good news is that the virus can also surprise people in a pleasant way. This winter, cases are not guaranteed to continue to rise. Keep in mind that they peaked in early January last winter, before dropping by around 75% in late February. In the coming weeks, I encourage you to ignore most of the Covid predictions. No one knows what will happen next.

In the meantime, what to make of the increase in the number of cases?

For most people, vaccines remain remarkably effective in turning Covid into a manageable disease that is less dangerous than certain daily activities.

The main dividing line is age. In Minnesota, which publishes detailed data on Covid, the death rate of fully vaccinated people under the age of 50 during the Delta outbreak this year was 0.0 per 100,000 – which means that so few people died that the rate rounded off to zero.

Washington State is another place that publishes statistics by age and immunization status. In his last reportWashington did not even include a death rate for fully vaccinated residents under the age of 65. He was too weak to be meaningful.

Hospitalization rates are also very low for vaccinated people under the age of 65. In Minnesota, during the Delta Wave, the average weekly hospitalization rate for vaccinated residents between the ages of 18 and 49 was about 1 in 100,000.

To put this in perspective, I researched data for other medical issues. In a typical week in the United States, nearly 3 in 100,000 people go to the emergency room because of a bicycle accident. The road accident rate is around 20 per 100,000.

Covid is the threat in many of our minds. But for most people under 65, the virus may be less of a risk than a road trip to visit relatives this week. “Vaccination, I think, changes everything,” Dustin Johnston, 40, a Michigan photographer who plans to reunite with his family, told The Times.

The situation is more frightening for older people, especially those in their 80s and 90s. For the oldest age groups, Covid presents a real risk even after vaccination. It appears to be more dangerous than a typical flu and much more dangerous than time spent driving in a vehicle, CDC data shows.

As a result, older Americans need protection during a power surge. (The same goes for a small percentage of young people with specific Covid vulnerabilities, such as organ transplant recipients.) The most effective way to protect vulnerable people is through vaccination – not only for them, but also for others who might infect them. .

Children aged 5 and over, who are now eligible for vaccines, are one example. The Covid remains extremely gentle for them. But vaccinated children are less likely to infect others than unvaccinated children, and a mild case of Covid in a child can turn into a fatal case for an elderly grandparent.

The argument for booster shots may be similar. Most younger and middle-aged adults who have received two injections of the Covid vaccine remain highly protected against serious illness (as shown in these charts). But the vaccines seem to diminish enough to make people more susceptible to a mild infection that they could pass on to a vulnerable person. All Americans aged 18 and over are now eligible for booster shots if their most recent injection was at least six months old.

When the discussion about boosters started a few months ago, I was a little skeptical, as the evidence of their benefit for most people was slim. Their community value now seems clear, however. I recently had a booster shot mainly because I will be spending time with older parents in the coming weeks. The case for booster injections in people over 65 is even more compelling.

If you are worried about the risks of your Thanksgiving gathering for the elderly, I would give you three tips. First, insist that everyone in your home be fully immunized if they are eligible. Second, encourage people to get tested – either at a testing center or with a rapid home test – before coming. Three, when the day comes, try to put your Covid anxiety aside and enjoy the holidays.

Learn more about the virus:

The Times rated 16,847 U.S. cities and towns based on restaurants, schools, and more. Where to move?

“As the Golden Gate closes, the Lone Star waves. ” Farhad Manjoo on California versus Texas.

Tips from Wirecutter: Do not store all products in the refrigerator.

Lives lived: Robert Bly was a poet and an anti-war leader. He found his greatest fame (and controversy) with the 1990 book “Iron John,” which argued that American men had softened. Bly died at the age of 94.

Whether your literary habits include science fiction, poetry, or non-fiction, The Times Book Review’s annual list of 100 Notable Books has options for you. “We cut an initial list of around 500 books,” said Gregory Cowles, who helped edit the project. It includes works by Chang-rae Lee, Sally Rooney, Kazuo Ishiguro, Colson Whitehead, Jonathan Franzen and more:

Fiction: “Strange Beasts of China”, by Yan Ge, is an enchanting novel about a cryptozoologist in pursuit of legendary creatures.

Memory: Ashley C. Ford’s “Somebody’s Daughter” begins with a phone call in which the author learns that her father is coming home after nearly 30 years in prison.

non-fictional works: Hanif Abdurraqib’s “A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance,” makes powerful observations on race through music, television, film, minstrel performances and vaudeville.

Stories: Anthony Veasna So’s “Afterparties” is a deeply personal, downright funny and enlightening debut album released eight months after the author’s death at age 28.


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