Thursday, January 13, 2022

A Glimmer Of Hope

From the New York Times:

The number of new Covid-19 cases in New York City rose more than twentyfold in December. In the past few days, it has flattened.

In both New Jersey and Maryland, the number of new cases has fallen slightly this week. In several major cities, the number is also showing signs of leveling off.

In Boston, the amount of the Covid virus detected in wastewater, which has been a leading indicator of case trends in the past, has plunged by about 40 percent since its peak just after Jan. 1.

“We really try not to ever make any predictions about this virus, because it always throws us for a loop,” Dr. Shira Doron, an epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center, told GBH News. “But at least the wastewater is suggesting a steep decline, and so we hope that means cases will decline steeply as well, and then hospitalizations and deaths will follow.”

As Doron suggested, it’s too early to be confident that the Omicron wave has peaked even in areas with encouraging data — which tend to be the places where Omicron first arrived in the U.S. But there is good reason to consider that the most likely scenario. “Looks like we may be cresting over that peak,” Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York said this week.

(Look up cases for your county here.)

A huge surge in cases that lasts for about one month, followed by a rapid decline, would be consistent with the experience in some places where Omicron arrived earlier than in the U.S. In South Africa, new daily cases have fallen by about 70 percent from the mid-December peak. The chart showing South Africa’s recent trend looks like a skinny, upside-down letter V.

For the record, here’s where it stands in Miami-Dade County.

We have seen this happen before with earlier variations of the disease: last summer it seemed like we’d gotten past the worst, only to have Delta and then Omicron come roaring back.  You don’t have to be an epidemiologist to understand that viruses evolve; e.g. the flu, which requires a new vaccine every year, or the common cold, which changes each time you get one.  We can’t let our guard down.

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