For the fourth summer in a row, cases of COVID-19 are on the rise. According to the CDC, there was a 12.5% increase in COVID related hospitalizations in the United States between July 31, 2023, and August 7, 2023. Part of the rise may be due to the EG.5 variant circulating in the United States and China. In a recent YouTube video published this month, the American Medical Association’s Vice President of Science, Medicine, and Public Health, Andrea Garcia, JD, MPH, spoke about the 2023 COVID cases increase.
She said that “the amount of Coronavrius being detected in wastewater, the percentage of people testing positive for the virus, and the number of people who are seeking care for COVID in emergency departments, have all started increasing since early July. So these could definitely be indicators of a late summer wave. I think I would add to that the other metric that we continue to look at is hospital admissions and those also recently began ticking upwards for the first time in quite a while.”
According to the authors of a recent article in the journalNature, “[b]ecause SARS-CoV-2 appears to be more transmissible than influenza and other seasonal respiratory viruses, it seems likely that year-round SARS-CoV-2 activity will remain elevated compared to other pathogens. COVID-19 continues to cause substantial morbidity and mortality throughout the year, including outside of the traditional viral respiratory season.”
Each year we have seen an uptick in COVID cases starting in the late summer and peaking during winter so now is a great time to get fully vaccinated and boosted if you are not already and to begin testing before and after large gatherings. You can schedule a free PCR test in New York City by calling 212-COVID-19. Visit amsterdamnews.com/covid for more resources including where to get free masks and at home tests.
The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene released a statement earlier this month regarding the increase in COVID cases, saying “there is currently a slight increase in COVID-19 transmission in New York City. Both cases and hospitalizations started picking up in mid-July, but overall remain low. Right now, there is nothing to suggest that COVID-19 is more transmissible or more lethal, but of course, as we’ve learned over the last three years, things can change with this virus, and we are constantly monitoring the situation.”
According to the DOHMH statement, “the good news is that we have the tools to keep New Yorkers safe. If you or anyone you know has symptoms that could be a sign of COVID-19 or if you or someone you know were recently exposed, get tested right away. And if you test positive, make sure to get treatment by calling your provider or 212-COVID-19. If you are an older New Yorker or immunocompromised, or live with someone who is, wearing a mask in crowded indoor settings can prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
In an interview with the AmNews, when asked about where we are with respect to COVID, Lisa Sanders, MD, FACP, Medical Director of Yale’s Long Covid Multidisciplinary Care Center said “It’s still a pandemic. . .lots of people die every year. More people die of COVID than the flu. It is still with us. It’s still there.”
Indeed COVID has disproportionately impacted communities of color, killing more than 20,000 Black New York city residents since 2020. If we are to live with COVID then we must continue to respect this dangerous affliction by taking care to protect ourselves and the most vulnerable among us.