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SabbraCadabra
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15 Aug 2022, 9:29 am

jimmy m wrote:
I suspect that the reason why they are pulling back from their initial guidelines is because the current strains of the virus are not as deadly as the initial strains.

They're caving in to pressure from oligarchs. This has nothing to do with the virus, and everything to do with money and power.

This is all going to backfire horribly, as our economy is already struggling with too many people who are too sick to work or go to school (whether the Covid is acute or chronic).

Fantastic.

I've seen first hand, these people calling the shots are the same CEOs who refuse to shut down a machine for maintenance or repairs. Keeping the product flowing 24/7 is priority number one, and when that machine finally breaks down for good, they panic.

CDC needs to change their name.

"Centers for Disease Control and Prevention...But Only If We Feel Like It...Sometimes We Just Give Up and Let the Blood Money Control and Prevent -Us-".


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15 Aug 2022, 10:36 am

SabbraCadabra wrote:
jimmy m wrote:
I suspect that the reason why they are pulling back from their initial guidelines is because the current strains of the virus are not as deadly as the initial strains.

They're caving in to pressure from oligarchs. This has nothing to do with the virus, and everything to do with money and power.

This is all going to backfire horribly, as our economy is already struggling with too many people who are too sick to work or go to school (whether the Covid is acute or chronic).

Fantastic.

I've seen first hand, these people calling the shots are the same CEOs who refuse to shut down a machine for maintenance or repairs. Keeping the product flowing 24/7 is priority number one, and when that machine finally breaks down for good, they panic.

CDC needs to change their name.

"Centers for Disease Control and Prevention...But Only If We Feel Like It...Sometimes We Just Give Up and Let the Blood Money Control and Prevent -Us-".

Nothing that nefarious. They are trying to play catch up. They realize they are almost irrelevant as most people have gone back to little or no mitigation. The only places that I see widespread masking is in medical facilities where they are required and in my Rite Aide pharmacy. Even though masks are not required in those locations I suspect people realize a lot of people going there are old or sick, if they are not old and sick themselves. Those hand sanitizer stations are still around but nobody uses them and I find a lot of them don’t work, still there but forgotten about.


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15 Aug 2022, 10:49 am

UK becomes first nation to approve Covid-19 vaccine targeting both Omicron and original strain

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The United Kingdom has become the first country to approve an updated version of Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine booster that targets two coronavirus variants: the Omicron strain and the original virus from 2020.

"An updated version of the COVID-19 vaccine made by Moderna that targets two coronavirus variants (known as a "bivalent" vaccine) has today been approved for adult booster doses by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) after it was found to meet the UK regulator's standards of safety, quality and effectiveness," read an official government release Monday.

Half of the booster, called "Spikevax bivalent Original/Omicron," targets the original coronavirus strain while the other half targets Omicron, it said.

The UK government said that the decision to grant approval for the shot was endorsed by the MHRA, the government's independent expert scientific advisory body, after carefully reviewing the evidence.

It was approved following the results of a clinical trial, where Moderna reported that its booster targeting Omicron showed a stronger immune response against the variant. The company said its updated booster also showed a "potent" response against the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.

The side effects were described by the MHRA as being the same as for the original Moderna booster dose and found to be "typically mild and self-resolving."

“No serious safety concerns were identified," the UK government release said.


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16 Aug 2022, 7:43 am

ASPartOfMe wrote:


The U.S. should be following suit soon. This will be an important shot to get. It may finally put an end to this pandemic.


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SabbraCadabra
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16 Aug 2022, 8:26 am

ASPartOfMe wrote:
Those hand sanitizer stations are still around but nobody uses them and I find a lot of them don’t work, still there but forgotten about.

Yeah, I can't imagine hand sanitizer does much against an airborne virus.


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16 Aug 2022, 5:25 pm

Biden administration will stop buying Covid-19 vaccines, treatments and tests as early as this fall, Jha says

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The Biden administration has been planning for how to get past the crisis phase of the Covid-19 pandemic and will stop buying vaccines, treatments and tests as early as this fall, White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said on Tuesday.

"One of the things we've spent a lot of time thinking about in the last many months -- and we're going to continue this work, and you'll hear more from the administration on this -- is getting us out of that acute emergency phase where the US government is buying the vaccines, buying the treatments, buying the diagnostic tests," Jha said at an event sponsored by the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

"My hope is that in 2023, you're going to see the commercialization of almost all of these products. Some of that is actually going to begin this fall, in the days and weeks ahead. You're going to see commercialization of some of these things," he said.

Availability of those products would transition to the regular health-care system, Jha said, so if you need a vaccine or an antiviral treatment, you'd get it from your doctor or from a hospital.

Updated boosters available next month
In the spring, the Biden administration asked Congress for $10 billion to fund continued pandemic response efforts, but a deal to pass the funding stalled.

Jha said the funding stalemate forced officials to repurpose money from other efforts, like building up supplies of tests and protective equipment for the strategic national stockpile.

Officials plan to use that money to buy updated vaccine booster shots that protect against the BA.4 and BA.5 coronavirus subvariants, which Jha said would be ready in early to mid-September.
"I would like to get to a point where every adult in America who wants a vaccine can get one. I'm hopeful we will be there. We're not quite there yet in terms of how many vaccine doses we've been able to buy," he said.

Jha said the transition to commercialization is complicated. It involves regulatory issues, market dynamic issues and equity issues, but the administration is working carefully and thoughtfully to get it right.

"Right now, everybody can walk into a CVS and get a vaccine. I want to make sure that when we make this transition, we don't end up at a point where nobody can get a vaccine because we didn't get the transition right," he said.

Jha said some of the commercialization would start in the fall, but most would be visible in 2023.

He said it would be important for the government to continue to make investments in the development of the next generation of vaccines and in pandemic preparedness.

A bad flu season expected
Jha urged all Americans to get the new boosters once they become available.
He stressed that the fall and winter could be tough in the United States if the flu makes a comeback, as is expected.

The US has seen little to no flu transmission for the past two years largely because of Covid-19 mitigation measures like masking.
"I expect the fall and winter to look much more like the fall and winter of 2019, with a lot less mitigation," Jha said.

"Under normal non-pandemic times, flu really stretches our health-care system," he said. "Throwing Covid on top of that, our health-care system is going to get into serious trouble unless we are very proactive about preventing it, if we do nothing and just sort of hope for the best."

No need for the government to buy the vaccines because most people are done with them having taken them and gotten COVID anyway.
jimmy m wrote:
ASPartOfMe wrote:


The U.S. should be following suit soon. This will be an important shot to get. It may finally put an end to this pandemic.

A large percentage of people not vaccinating probably means more severe covid and more long covid as immunity wears off.

Marshall Islands, Once Nearly Covid-Free, Confronts an Outbreak
Quote:
As a remote nation in the Pacific, the Marshall Islands had been almost completely spared from Covid-19, registering just a handful of cases throughout the pandemic, with no community transmission detected.

But in just over a week, more than 4,000 people have tested positive in a population of about 60,000, including the country’s secretary of health and human services, Jack Niedenthal. He has been providing updates on Facebook and said 75 percent of those tested in Majuro, the capital, had Covid, “an incredibly high positivity rate.”

In an interview on Tuesday, Mr. Niedenthal said there was some panic and concern, given that the islands, about halfway between Hawaii and the Philippines, had not recorded a single Covid case last year.

“So people were thinking, ‘Hey, these guys really know what they’re doing,’” he said. “The problem is people started wanting to travel, they missed their loved ones, some leaders traveled.”

As life began to return to normal, keeping the virus out was impossible, he said. Mr. Niedenthal expected the case count to continue rising, given the dense population. “The next three to four days are going to be pretty rough,” he said.

On Aug. 10, Mr. Niedenthal called health care workers back to work even if they tested positive, saying they would be screened and would not interact with patients. He said it was a drastic measure that “has been taken throughout the world and the Pacific as Covid numbers rise quickly and we are left with no other choice.”

Hospitalizations and deaths tend to lag behind case numbers, but as of this week there had been few severe cases, including six deaths.

The population is highly vaccinated: 72 percent are fully vaccinated in Majuro, and 61 percent have boosters, according to government data. The Marshall Islands closed its borders in early March 2020, taking more drastic measures than its neighbors at the time.

He said that over the past few days, people have been worried, but that there was a strong sense of community on the islands. “It’s not like panic in the U.S. where everybody is buying toilet paper,” he said.

And unlike early in the pandemic, the islands now have access to Covid treatments, like Paxlovid, an antiviral medication shown to prevent serious Covid cases, sent by the U.S. government. Representatives from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention arrived on the island in recent days to assist with the response.

Other governments have pitched in


First lady Jill Biden tests positive for COVID-19
Quote:
First lady Jill Biden has tested positive for COVID-19 while on vacation with the president and their family, according to her office.

Jill Biden tested negative on Monday during her routine testing, and then developed "cold-like symptoms" Monday night, according to her communications director, Elizabeth Alexander.

"She tested negative again on a rapid antigen test, but a PCR test came back positive," Alexander said in a statement Tuesday morning.

Jill Biden, who is double vaccinated and twice boosted, has "mild symptoms," Alexander said.

Jill Biden been prescribed the antiviral treatment Paxlovid, which President Biden also took after testing positive last month.

President Biden, who had been vacationing with his wife and family in Kiawah Island, South Carolina, is considered a close contact and will mask while indoors for the next 10 days and when he's in close contact to others, according to the White House.


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17 Aug 2022, 8:23 am

I came across an interesting article about the progression of COVID. But because of my stroke (not COVID related), my thinking ability is slow. But essentially this article points to the next round of COVID. India is being hit hard and the U.S. may follow suit. Anyways it is worth the read.

What Makes Omicron Special? Centaurus Gives Us a Clue

It is a really interesting article but my mind is fried by my stroke. There are several variants at play and one of them is called Centaurus, BA.27.5. This variant is causing a lot of devastation in India at the moment. So we may be next.

The bottom line is
The simple salt bridge of the N460K mutant that enables Centaurus to evade immunity can only form because lysine has replaced asparagine – a single mutation that removed one oxygen atom, changing the chemistry at this site.

Don't ask me what it means. I am not a chemist. But it does seem like there is one more stage ahead. Since everyone has put this pandemic in the CRAZY category and gone on with their lives, it is still a little important to keep an open mind and do not lose site of the END.


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17 Aug 2022, 9:15 am

Off Topic


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17 Aug 2022, 12:23 pm

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QuantumChemist wrote:
I tested positive for COVID last Friday using a home test. I started having symptoms like a cold a day before. It was pretty taxing on my system, as I had very low energy. Going up and down a flight of stairs took more than an hour to recover from. Five days in, it is almost done (except for the occasional phlegm from a cough) but I am still contagious to other. At least three or four more days of self isolation before I can retest and possibly to return back to my regular life again. I am glad I had the two shots and the booster of Pfizer before I caught it. It was likely picked up at an event that I went to that had too many people too close together. Sometimes you can be too lax in safety and pay the price for doing so.
Oh...possibly bad news based upon my own recent trip through COVID:

1. The home test we used apparently did not detect our COVID for a few days. That is, we both tested negative and a day or two later tested positive...and we both strongly believe we were already infected when we got that initial negative test result.

2. After the quarantine/isolation period and after the symptoms were gone we both sometimes still got faint positive results on the home test. Our medical insurer's help line says the test was likely not reacting to COVID virus in our systems but rather COVID antigens...and the tests should get correct results after no more than 90 days.


And I have no idea how we are supposed to organize our lives if at first you get a negative result even though you are infected, and if after the infection you can't trust the test results for 90 days. :(

From Yahoo!, attributed to Time:
From Yahoo!"Half of People With Omicron Don't Know They're Infected, Study Says" 
Quote:
“If one message comes out of our study, I hope it’s that awareness of your infection status is going to be really key to get us through this pandemic faster,” says Cheng. “Lack of awareness and lack of knowing could lead to walking around with something transmissible, and unwittingly passing the virus to a household member, neighbor, co-worker, or someone at the grocery store.”


From Yahoo!, attributed to Los Angeles Times:
From Yahoo!"California officials warn of misleading COVID rapid test results: Sick but 'negative'" 
Quote:
Health officials stress that at-home tests are a vital and accurate way of tracking COVID-19 infections but an initial negative test doesn't mean people are out of the woods.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration suggested last week that those checking to determine whether they are infected should use multiple tests over a period of days.

"When you perform an at-home COVID-19 antigen test and you get a positive result, the results are typically accurate," government officials wrote in a public statement. "However, if you perform an at-home COVID-19 antigen test, you could get a false negative result."

Because of this, the agency "recommends repeat testing following a negative result, whether or not you have COVID-19 symptoms."

The risk of misleading results seems to be higher among symptomatic people infected with the latest dominant Omicron subvariant, BA.5, compared with earlier versions. This, experts say, further illustrates the importance of follow-up testing.

"If your first home antigen test is negative, we recommend repeating it in 24 to 48 hours," Dr. Ralph Gonzales, a UC San Francisco associate dean, said during a recent campus town hall.


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19 Aug 2022, 1:37 am

The Pandemic’s Soft Closing

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A quick skim of the CDC’s latest COVID guidelines might give the impression that this fall could feel a lot like the ones we had in the Before Times. Millions of Americans will be working in person at offices, and schools and universities will be back in full swing. There will be few or no masking, testing, or vaccination mandates in place. Sniffles or viral exposures won’t be reason enough to keep employees or students at home. And requirements for “six feet” will be mostly relegated to the Tinder profiles of those seeking trysts with the tall.

Americans have been given the all clear to dispense with most of the pandemic-centric behaviors that have defined the past two-plus years—part and parcel of the narrative the Biden administration is building around the “triumphant return to normalcy,” says Joshua Salomon, a health-policy researcher at Stanford. Where mitigation measures once moved in near lockstep with case numbers, hospitalizations, and deaths, they’re now on separate tracks; the focus with COVID is, more explicitly than ever before, on avoiding only severe illness and death. The country seems close to declaring the national public-health emergency done—and short of that proclamation, officials are already “effectively acting as though it’s over,” says Lakshmi Ganapathi, a pediatric-infectious-disease specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital. If there’s such a thing as a “soft closing” of the COVID crisis, this latest juncture might be it.

The shift in guidelines underscores how settled the country is into the current state of affairs. This new relaxation of COVID rules is one of the most substantial to date—but it wasn’t spurred by a change in conditions on the ground. A slew of Omicron subvariants are still burning across most states; COVID deaths have, for months, remained at a stubborn, too-high plateau. The virus won’t budge. Nor will Americans. So the administration is shifting its stance instead. No longer will people be required to quarantine after encountering the infected, even if they haven’t gotten the recommended number of shots; schools and workplaces will no longer need to screen healthy students and employees, and guidance around physical distancing is now a footnote at best.

All of this is happening as the Northern Hemisphere barrels toward fall—a time when students cluster in classrooms, families mingle indoors, and respiratory viruses go hog wild—the monkeypox outbreak balloons, and the health-care system remains strained. The main COVID guardrail left is a request for people to stay up to date on their vaccines, which most in the U.S. are not; most kids under 5 who have opted for the Pfizer vaccine won’t even have had enough time to finish their three-dose primary series by the time the school year starts. In an email, Jasmine Reed, a public-affairs specialist for the CDC, suggested the Pfizer timing mismatch wasn’t a concern, because “a very high proportion of children have some level of protection from previous infection or vaccination”—even though infection alone isn’t as powerfully protective as vaccination. “It’s like they're throwing their hands up in the air,” says Rupali Limaye, a public-health researcher and behavioral scientist at Johns Hopkins University. “People aren’t going to follow the guidance, so let’s just loosen them up.”

For many, many months now, U.S. policy on the virus has emphasized the importance of individual responsibility for keeping the virus at bay; these latest updates simply reinforce that posture. But given their timing and scope, this, more than any other pandemic inflection point, feels like “a wholesale abandonment” of a community-centric mindset, says Arrianna Marie Planey, a medical geographer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—one that firmly codifies the “choose your own adventure” approach. Reed, meanwhile, described the updates as an attempt to “streamline” national recommendations so that people could “better understand their personal risk,” adding that the CDC would “emphasize the minimum actions people need to take to protect communities,” with options to add on.

It is true that, as the CDC epidemiologist Greta Massetti said in a press briefing last week, “the current conditions of this pandemic are very different.” The country has cooked up tests, treatments, and vaccines. By some estimates, roughly three-quarters of the country harbors at least some immunity to recent variants. But those tools and others remain disproportionately available to the socioeconomically privileged. If wide gaps in health remain between the fortunate and the less fortunate, the virus will inevitably exploit them.

The most recent pivots are not likely to spark a wave of behavioral change: Many people already weren’t quarantining after exposures, or routinely being tested by their schools or workplaces, or keeping six feet apart. But shifting guidance could still portend trouble long-term. One of the CDC’s main impetuses for change appears to have been nudging its guidance closer to what the public has felt the status quo should be—a seemingly backward position to adopt.

No matter how people are acting at this crossroads, this closing won’t work in the way the administration might hope. We can’t, right now, entirely shut the door on the pandemic—certainly not if the overarching goal is to help Americans “move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives,” as Massetti noted in a press release. Maybe that would be an option “if we were genuinely at a point in this pandemic where cases didn’t matter,” says Jason Salemi, an epidemiologist at the University of South Florida. Relaxed guidance would be genuinely less “disruptive” if more people, both in this country and others, were up to date on their vaccines, or if SARS-CoV-2 was far less capable of sparking severe disease and long COVID didn’t exist.

Layered onto this reality, however, chiller guidelines will only spur further transmission, Planey told me, upending school and workplace schedules, delaying care in medical settings, and seeding more long-term disability. For much of the pandemic, a contingent of people has been working to advance the narrative that “the measures to prevent transmission are the cause of disruption,” Stanford’s Salomon told me; vanishing those mitigations, then, would purport to rid the country of the burdens the past couple years have brought. But unfettered viral spread can wreak widespread havoc as well.

Right now, the country has been walking down an interminable plateau of coronavirus cases and deaths—the latter stubbornly hovering just under 500, a number that the country has, by virtue of its behaviors or lack thereof, implicitly decided is just fine. “It’s much lower than we’ve been, but it’s not a trivial number,” Salemi told me. Held at this rate, the U.S.’s annual COVID death toll could be about 150,000—three times the mortality burden of the worst influenza season of the past decade. And the country has little guarantee that the current mortality average will even hold. Immunity provides a buffer against severe disease. But that protection may be impermanent, especially as the virus continues to shapeshift, abetted by unchecked international spread. Should the autumn bring with it yet another spike in cases, long COVID, hospitalizations, and deaths, the country will need to be flexible and responsive enough to pivot back to more strictness, which the administration is setting Americans up poorly to do.

Acceptance of the present might presage acceptance of a future that’s worse—not just with SARS-CoV-2 but with any other public-health threat. If and when conditions worsen, the rules may not tighten to accommodate, because the public has not been inured to the idea that they should. “If it’s going to be 600 deaths a day soon,” or perhaps far more, Ganapathi told me, “I won’t be surprised if we find a way to rationalize that too.”



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20 Aug 2022, 8:17 pm

The U.K. approved omicron-specific booster shots. They're coming to the U.S. soon.

The United Kingdom has become the first country to approve vaccine boosters designed to target the omicron variant of COVID-19, paving the way for Brits to receive their shots in early fall.

The Moderna shot approved in the U.K. is "bivalent," meaning it's a mix of two versions of the vaccine: Half is targeted at the original strain of COVID-19, and half is a new formulation designed to fight the original omicron variant, also known as BA.1.

"What this bivalent vaccine gives us is a sharpened tool in our armoury to help protect us against this disease as the virus continues to evolve," Dr. June Raine, the head of the U.K.'s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, said in a statement.

Researchers in the U.K. found that the Moderna-made omicron booster "triggers a strong immune response" against both the original 2020 strain of the coronavirus and the original omicron variant, which emerged late last year.

The U.S. has purchased more than 170 million total doses of omicron boosters from Pfizer and Moderna. (That's not enough for all 330 million Americans. But only about two-thirds of Americans finished their initial course of the vaccine, and fewer than half of those have received booster shots.)

The regulatory process that helps show the vaccines are safe and effective is still underway. Officials have said they hope to authorize the boosters by mid-September.

https://www.npr.org/2022/08/16/11176161 ... ariant-ba5


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21 Aug 2022, 4:34 pm

Is Long Island's stubbornly high COVID case rate the new normal?

Quote:
Summer was supposed to offer somewhat of a respite to Long Islanders from COVID-19. Instead, the region is experiencing its longest sustained stretch of high coronavirus rates since the pandemic began, and some experts fear this could be our new normal.

“This summer should represent what we should expect year to year, and that’s a lot of cases,” said Sean Clouston, an associate professor of public health at Stony Brook University.

Experts said less masking and other precautions and the much higher degree of contagiousness of omicron subvariants, including BA. 5, are combining to keep COVID-19 rates stubbornly high — and they’re why high rates may become a way of life for the foreseeable future.

COVID-19 case numbers have gone up and down throughout the pandemic. But after rates surge, they usually drop quickly. This time, the percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive on Long Island has remained above 7% since late April, when the highly infectious BA. 2.12.1, BA. 2 and BA. 2.12 subvariants were responsible for almost all New York cases. The even more contagious BA. 5 began dominating in the early summer.

On many days this summer, the number of confirmed cases has been 10 or more times higher than on the same days in the summers of 2020 and 2021 — even though this year’s numbers are believed to be vast undercounts, because most tests now are done at home and not reflected in official statistics.

During most of the summer of 2020, and from mid-May to mid-July of 2021, positivity rates were at or below 1%. They haven’t been that low since then.

Instead, caseloads rose throughout the spring, surpassing 2,000 a day on Long Island on several days in mid-May.

Positivity and case numbers are imperfect. The positivity rate is now based only on PCR results. Case numbers represent only PCR and rapid test results reported to the government, and even those don’t include reinfections.

Dr. Bruce Farber, chief of public health and epidemiology at Northwell Health, said the real case numbers are “much, much higher than those official rates, probably by a factor of 8 or 9.”

That would mean that instead of the 62,632 people officially recorded as having tested positive on Long Island this summer, the real number may be closer to half a million.

“It has been remarkable how long and aggressive” the spring and summer surge has been, Farber said.

Although hundreds of Americans currently are dying every day of COVID-19, omicron and its subvariants generally are less likely to cause severe disease and death than the delta variant, which was dominant during most of the last half of 2021, Clouston said.

Long Island positivity rates and caseloads have slowly fallen in the past few weeks, to a seven-day average of just above 8%, because “after a community is totally inundated with a variant, at a certain point in time the rates will fall,” Farber said.

But Clouston said that, with children returning to school soon, with no masking requirements, and with the possibility of new subvariants, cases may not drop much more.

"This may be our low,” he said.

Nassau and Suffolk counties — and 92% of the nation’s counties — currently are considered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to have “high community transmission.”

For most of the summer, Long Island COVID-19 hospitalizations have been several times the levels of the summers of 2020 and 2021, state data shows.

There also are far more deaths. From June 1 through Thursday, 218 Long Islanders died of COVID-19 — nearly three times the 74 deaths during the same time last year, according to state Health Department data.

Nationwide, an average of 400 people are dying of COVID-19 every day, CDC data shows.

“As a society, good, bad or not, this is what we’ve decided is reasonable to accept” in exchange for returning to a sense of normalcy, Farber said.

The abandoning of precautions is occurring as BA. 5, an omicron subvariant dramatically more contagious than the original COVID-19 strain, continues to dominate, creating “a perfect storm to let this continue to percolate,” said Dr. Leonard Krilov, chief of pediatrics and an infectious disease specialist at NYU Langone Hospital-Long Island in Mineola.

Pre-omicron, people who contracted COVID-19 could count on long-lasting protection against getting infected again, Farber said. With the changing subvariants, that’s no longer true, he said.

“It’s a different virus,” Farber said.

Booster shots reduce the risk of infection — especially in the first few months after vaccination — and reduce the risk of severe illness even more, he said. But fewer than 55% of Long Islanders eligible for boosters have them, according to state data.

Already, the omicron subvariant BA. 4.6 is spreading in New York, comprising 8.9% of cases for the two weeks ending Aug. 13, state Health Department data shows. There’s also the threat of BA. 2.75, which spread rapidly in India and is believed to be more infectious than BA. 5, Clouston said.

“There’s no sign that COVID is going to stop changing all of a sudden, so we’re going to get more variants,” he said.

Some of those variants may be more dangerous than omicron, although it doesn't appear that BA. 4.6 and BA. 2.75 are more likely to cause severe disease than other omicron subvariants, he said.

“We may find that we’re going to get sort of good COVID years and bad COVID years,” he said.

Despite the high COVID-19 rates this summer, Clouston said that, with omicron generally less lethal than previous variants like delta, “I would guess that this is a good one.”


Opinion The world might be done with covid, but I’m still keeping my distance
Stacy Torres is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of California at San Francisco.
Quote:
This summer, I’ve played a new people-watching game while walking New York’s sweaty streets: What’s the story behind the mask? Who’s still adhering to covid-19 restrictions when we’ve cast off nearly all public health guidelines in this era of pandemic apathy?

My unscientific observations yield a few patterns. People over 60, people of color, women and those with visible disabilities make up the majority of this dwindling minority of outdoor maskers.

I can only guess at the reasons behind their precautions. Have they lost loved ones to covid? Are they trying to avoid first infection, or reinfection? Are they unvaccinated? Do they have underlying health problems or high-risk jobs?

All I know is my own story and why I’m masking outdoors in a heat wave.

I have a systemic autoimmune disease, Sjogren’s, that causes debilitating symptoms, including dry mouth, dry eyes and crushing fatigue. Given my condition and difficulty clearing past infections, I’m concerned about increased risk of severe covid, long covid and triggering another autoimmune disorder.

For 2½ years, I’ve avoided contracting the virus. While it’s hard to tell in most of the United States that there’s an ongoing pandemic, I continue to live a shadow life in my effort to dodge infection. I’m not sure how much longer I can retain my membership in this exclusive club of the never-infected, but I’m trying.

I’m double-boosted and ingest a ridiculous amount of vitamins daily. I don’t know how much my precautions or luck have prevented covid infection. I’ve known extremely careful people who’ve gotten it, others who tried to catch it and failed, and those infected multiple times who don’t seem to care.

Pre-vaccines, death and hospitalization fears consumed me. I still don’t like my odds. How can I be certain I won’t be among the nearly 500 Americans dying of covid every day?

With political penalties for reimposing covid restrictions, I don’t expect elected officials to help me. Now I can only double down on my precautions.

As a lifelong wallflower, bordering on misanthrope, I remain amazed at people’s desire to cluster. Who are these folks who want to sit right next to me in an empty cafe or train car? I don’t get them. But I must find a way to coexist or else condemn myself to lifetime isolation.

I juggle infinitesimal risk calculations. I size up spaces, looking for open doors and windows. I don’t sit at the bar. For outdoor dining, I consider table proximity, shelter for rain and wind, sun and shade.

My brain overflows with strategies for handling tricky public interactions: The close talker. Large tourist family on subway. Children. I have my distancing tricks, such as placing my supermarket basket behind me in line to create a no-pass barrier. When possible, I climb stairs instead of riding escalators and elevators. I go to the gym at night and use whatever machines no one else wants.

Traveling anywhere tests my nimbleness. I rely on public transit and carry a variety of protective gear — a face shield and surgical, KN95 and N99 masks — giving extras to anyone who needs them.

Splitting my time between coasts, I’ve observed differences between the Bay Area and New York. California’s lower density and larger spaces, coupled with greater acceptance of public health measures, give me extra breathing room.

Following guidelines that many consider “outdated” has me confronting conformity pressures daily. I’d still rather look like a weirdo than risk covid, but I often feel forced to explain myself, like the time I argued with a supermarket worker who wanted me to move up in line, prioritizing a clear aisle over my desire to avoid standing near unmasked strangers. Whenever I advocate for myself, I out myself as a chronically sick person.

How many more masks can I wear and still breathe? I guess I’ll find out. Until then, masked even in sweltering heat, I’m basking in the sun and staking out what public spaces I can. You’ll find me alone on a park bench or at a sidewalk cafe, enjoying my own “Hot Girl Summer.”


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23 Aug 2022, 9:26 am

Summer was supposed to offer somewhat of a respite to Long Islanders from COVID-19. Instead, the region is experiencing its longest sustained stretch of high coronavirus rates since the pandemic began, and some experts fear this could be our new normal.

It all has to do with the changing variations of the COVID virus. The current strain is many times more contagious than the earlier strains. Many, many, many times more contagious. But at the same time it is much LESS deadly. People get it and are zapped for less than 4 weeks and it hits them hard and they know it, but they live to tell the tale.

Remember it spreads in low humidity indoor environments (winter) and also in high humidity environments (summer). As we hit the fall, the numbers should drop significantly. But the next surge (if it happens) will be in the winter around the November/December time frame.


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23 Aug 2022, 11:13 pm

COVID has evolved to make you sicker quicker, new study finds

Quote:
If you’d like to hurry up and get your next COVID illness over with, there’s good news for you.

As the novel virus has evolved to become more transmissible and virulent, it’s also shortened its incubation period, according to a study out of two Beijing universities published Monday by the Journal of the American Medical Association. That means those who have been infected will experience symptoms more quickly (if they’re going to experience symptoms at all).

The initial “wild type” strain of COVID detected in Wuhan, China, in late 2019 had an incubation period of around 5.2 days. COVID’s Alpha variant—which burst onto the scene in the U.K. in December 2020—took about five days for symptoms to develop after exposure, according to the study.

By the time the Beta variant was discovered a short time later, the incubation period had shortened to 4.5 days. The Delta variant saw an incubation period of 4.41 days, and Omicron’s incubation period is currently 3.42 days.

Among all versions of COVID, the mean incubation period is 6.57 days, the authors found—longer than that of other coronaviruses that cause the common cold (3.2 days); common respiratory illness parainfluenza (2.6 days); the most common type of flu, influenza A (about 1.5 days); and rhinovirus, another common source of colds (1.4 days). The mean incubation period was longer for individuals ages 60 and older and 18 and younger, and for those whose illness was mild, the authors found.

Studies have shown that shorter incubation periods “are associated with more serious disease,” as was the case with fellow coronaviruses SARS and MERS, according to the study’s authors. But they did not draw any further conclusions about differences in incubation time in relation to the severity of COVID variants in comparison to each other.

On the bright side, an overall decrease in incubation period means less time for infected individuals to unknowingly transmit the virus.

The study’s authors pointed to their own research as a reason that different countries may want to rethink their isolation time recommendations.


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23 Aug 2022, 11:23 pm

jimmy m wrote:
Summer was supposed to offer somewhat of a respite to Long Islanders from COVID-19. Instead, the region is experiencing its longest sustained stretch of high coronavirus rates since the pandemic began, and some experts fear this could be our new normal.

It all has to do with the changing variations of the COVID virus. The current strain is many times more contagious than the earlier strains. Many, many, many times more contagious. But at the same time it is much LESS deadly. People get it and are zapped for less than 4 weeks and it hits them hard and they know it, but they live to tell the tale.

Remember it spreads in low humidity indoor environments (winter) and also in high humidity environments (summer). As we hit the fall, the numbers should drop significantly. But the next surge (if it happens) will be in the winter around the November/December time frame.

Is the virus really less severe or are symptoms less because of vaccines and most of us getting it, we have antibodies?

This will be the first fall of the pandemic with little or no mitigation measures. More packed indoors as the weather cools. In this part of the country, school starts after Labor Day


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24 Aug 2022, 9:07 am

ASPartOfMe wrote:
Is the virus really less severe or are symptoms less because of vaccines and most of us getting it, we have antibodies?

This will be the first fall of the pandemic with little or no mitigation measures. More packed indoors as the weather cools. In this part of the country, school starts after Labor Day


From what I read, the virus is less severe. So even though there are many times more infections, there are fewer people dying. This trend also applies to those who decide to remain unvaccinated.

The unvaccinated will still carry the brunt of the infection wave but they are not dying like they did with the initial wave in 2020.

[On a side note, I was put in a hospital in a COVID ward in the middle of the first big wave at the end of 2020. People were dying all around me. I didn't have COVID but the hospital took this approach to assume that I had COVID until they proved otherwise. I had my wife sneak in a UVC filter unit to purify the air in my room and no one in the hospital knew the difference. And I survived my stay in the COVID Ward.]


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