Thursday, May 19, 2022

California 'Under Rising Pressure' From New Coronavirus Surge

According to this mornings WSJ newsletter, "The latest Covid surge expands beyond the Northeast":

Places from the Midwest to Florida and California are under rising pressure. The most recent weekly update of a CDC metric that uses case and hospitalization data to determine community levels of Covid-19 ranked 137 counties as “high,” up from 79 a week earlier and 14 in mid-April.
Of course this isn't good news, but it's especially troubling in my case because as long as mask mandates continue, I'll still be teaching online --- with my hearing, I need to see a student's face. So, I told my administration that I'm not coming back to teach on campus until all mandates are lifted. That's supposed to be next semester, but if the state, LA. County, or the City of Long Beach maintains indoor masking, I'm toast.

And let's be honest, while the grading for online classes is not just burdensome and heavy, it's even more so a long, monotonous grind. In an "asynchronous" class there's really no direct, face-to-face contact with students, unless on of them requests virtual office hours by Zoom, which is rare.

Well see, in any case. Meanwhile, at the Journal, "Latest Covid-19 Wave Expands to More of U.S.":

Rising cases prompt more calls for precautions but not mandates in hot spots like New York City.

The latest Covid-19 case surge is expanding beyond the Northeast, with places from the Midwest to Florida and California under rising pressure.

Fueled by highly contagious versions of the Omicron variant, the tide is posing a test of how much new infections matter in a changing pandemic. Though built-up immunity in the population has kept more people out of hospitals, federal health officials on Wednesday urged people in hot spots to take precautions, from booster shots to pre-gathering tests and masks, to limit the virus’ spread.

“We’ve got to do what we can to prevent infections,” said Ashish Jha, the White House Covid-19 response coordinator. “We’ve got to do what we can to ensure that infections don’t turn into severe illness.”

The seven-day moving average of new Covid-19 cases recently topped 94,000 a day, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show, nearly four times lows reached in late March. The true number of new cases is likely significantly higher, epidemiologists say, because so many people are self-testing at home or not testing at all.

The rise in cases hasn’t translated thus far into major surges in severe illness. The seven-day average of confirmed cases in hospitalized patients reached about 18,550 on Wednesday, up from lows near 10,000 in mid-April, but far below a record peak above 150,000 in January. The numbers include people who test positive on routine screening after getting hospitalized for other reasons. The daily average of reported deaths has slipped under 300 a day, the lowest point since last summer.

But new cases still cause disruptions and carry risks including the possibility of developing long-lasting and sometimes debilitating symptoms, epidemiologists and public-health experts say. The more an outbreak spreads, the more likely it will reach the most vulnerable including elderly people and others with compromised immune systems, the experts say, and the more likely the virus will continue to mutate.

“Vaccines are very effective for reducing severe disease and death but don’t eliminate severe disease and death, and so reducing spread, reducing cases is also important,” said Julia Raifman, an assistant professor at the Boston University School of Public Health.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told the WSJ Future of Everything Festival that scientists have yet to determine whether certain variants of the virus are more likely to lead to long-term symptoms.

The latest upswing in cases began in late March in the Northeast, the early hot spot for the Omicron BA.2 subvariant. Virus experts believe spread was muted at first by a mix of immunity-boosting factors: timing, right after a major winter surge, and a similarity to the version of Omicron behind that surge...

Still more.

I'll keep you posted. I'm scheduled for three classes on campus for fall, but that could change.