CDC recommends masks again in New York City, Los Angeles and other communities as COVID cases rise

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Thursday that a growing number of communities are now seeing higher levels of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations to warrant indoor masking and other measures to curb the virus. Several major cities are now considering a return to masking measures.

According to the agency’s weekly update, 13.7% of Americans now live in communities with “high” COVID-19 prevalence levels, up from 4.9% of the population last week. An additional 38.1% of Americans are in “moderate” zones and 48.2% are in “low” zones.

More than ten large counties with more than one million residents are now at this “high” level:

  • Los Angeles County, California (10,039,107 residents)
  • Maricopa County, Arizona (4,485,414)
  • Kings County, New York (2,559,903)
  • Queens County, New York (2,253,858)
  • San Bernardino County, California (2,180,085)
  • Santa Clara County, California (1,927,852)
  • New York County, New York (1,628,706)
  • Suffolk County, New York (1,476,601)
  • Bronx County, New York (1,418,207)
  • Nassau County, New York (1,356,924)
  • Pima County, Arizona (1,047,279)

The list covers most of the New York metro area. Recently officials in the state Schools urged to return to indoor masking To prevent the spread of COVID-19 as well as the respiratory viruses RSV and influenza. authorities in los angeles have also warned That indoor masking rules may be back there as cases rise.

The updated figures come as CDC officials say they are considering new “pan-respiratory” benchmarks to measure the spread of all three viruses, as a possible replacement for the COVID-19 community-level framework .

If included in the CDC’s COVID-19 recommendations, it could mean that flu and RSV cases will also factor in when the agency urges Americans to wear masks and take other precautions to contain the surge affecting hospitals. can be curbed.

“We are trying to develop metrics as quickly as possible that will enable us to visualize the level of overall respiratory viral activity at the state or regional level,” CDC’s Barbara Mahon said at a meeting this week. Agency’s external consultants.

Mahon said the agency expects metrics “to be ready to come out soon.”

“Rummy Days Ahead”

While Biden administration officials say they are confident this year’s surge in RSV has peaked in much of the country, and early indications are that flu hospitalizations may peak as well, both of the worst in the past few seasons. are close to the level of On the record.

The pace of new COVID-19 hospitalizations also climbed nationwide, up 13.8% from the previous week. The CDC this week reported the worst rate of COVID-19 infections among residents in nursing homes since last February.

Roughly two out of three cases are now estimated to be BQ.1 or BQ.1.1 variants. Moderna and Pfizer say their lab data shows their updated shots Will provide additional protection against these Omicron strains.

But the immune-evasive strain recently forced the FDA to bench the last available antibody treatment for COVID-19 patients.

Federal health officials and some experts have encouraged doctors to resort to treatments such as convalescent plasma when looking at frail and immunocompromised patients, though they acknowledge they may be hard to come by. Federal funding to support blood collection and boost plasma supplies before the pandemic ends in 2021.

“We’re seeing a clear increase in COVID infections in every region of the country, about 40% over the past few weeks. So three challenges are coming at the same time. There are going to be some bumpy days ahead,” the top White House COVID-19 official Dr Ashish Jha told Health Action Alliance at an event on Thursday.

Jha said that he urged people to seek an updated COVID-19 booster along with the treatment for the disease.

Thanks to an expected slowdown in vaccinations over the holiday weekend, CDC data show the average pace of new COVID boosters administered is now down 66% from its mid-October peak. On Wednesday, Mahon called the pace of the shots now “significantly slow”.

About 15.5% of adults and 34.2% of seniors now have an updated COVID booster, according to data published Thursday. By comparison, CDC survey data estimated that about 60% of seniors had received an annual flu shot as of last November.

“The good news here is a lot of what happens, how this plays out, how disruptive it is, how many people are going to get sick, is up to us,” Jha said.

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