COVID-19 has been one of the toughest challenges for the US healthcare system in recent times as the SARS-COV-2 virus continues to evolve and mutate. According to the CDC, COVID-19 has resulted in 1.1 million deaths across the US since Jan 01, 2020, and 1,430 deaths during the last week of 2023 alone.
According to CDC statistics and projections, shared by Michael Hoerger, Director PMC, we are experiencing the second-worst surge of COVID-19 in the United States — 2 million new infections per day. Nearly one in three Americans will be infected during the peak two months of this winter surge.
Understanding the Numbers
According to the CDC, as of Jan 18, 2024, the hospitalization rate per 100,000 population for COVID-19 was 9.9 last week, almost as high at the number reached during the same week last year 13/100,000). The numbers are on the rise and may reach the same rate as last year. The CDC’s data tracker shows a total of 32,861 hospitalizations from COVID-19 infections in the past week with a death rate as high as 4%.
The Latest stats shared by Mike Hoerger, Director PMC show that this peak will result in over 142 million infections during the next 3 months and will result in over 7 million long-term clinically complicated cases.
Factors Contributing to the Surge
Several factors contribute to these projections. One key element is the transmissibility of new variants. According to the CDC’s report on Jan 5, 2024, the new covid variant JN.1, an offspring of BA.2.86, is the most common variant of Sars-Cov-2 in the US accounting for 85% of all infections in the last 15 days – an increase of 18% in that period. Research and data suggest this new variant spreads more quickly and has more mutations than previous variants (Source: Washington Post).
The new variants, decreased testing, indoor holiday gatherings, and low immunity (due to low levels of vaccination) along with the interconnectedness of our global society and travel patterns, further complicate the challenge to mitigate virus transmission.
Recommendations and Strategies
Public health measures, including vaccination, will be important to address this surge in Covid-19 infection. The CDC emphasizes the importance of booster shots to enhance immunity, especially in the face of evolving virus strains. According to CDC estimates, As of Jan 18, 2024, only 11% of children and 21.5% of Americans aged 18+ have received the latest vaccination that offers better protection against the latest JN.1 variant. Public awareness campaigns, community engagement, and efficient vaccination will be essential to control the spread and mitigate the impact on our healthcare system.
Another important tool to meet this challenge is to regularly self-test with Covid-19 antigen tests. According to a study published by NIH, the number of COVID-19 infections can be reduced by increasing community testing for COVID-19 as it can help identify individuals with infection, leading to isolation and prevention of transmission.
Other Strategies include minimizing indoor gatherings, improving ventilation, using protective face masks, isolating yourself if tested positive, and following respective state laws and policies.
The current COVID-19 surge in the United States, driven by the new Omicron JN.1 variant, requires our individual and community attention. With rising infection rates and concerning statistics, it is important increase vaccination efforts, test regularly and mask appropriately. If positive, one should consult their physician or healthcare professional for advice on treatment choices.
DrugTestKitUSA offers fast, accurate, and affordable antigen home test kits to allow individuals to self-test to help prevent the spread of the virus. Testing, along with vaccination and masking is an important measure to help protect an individual’s health and that of their community.