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Find out how to navigate the rise in COVID instances this summer season : NPR

COVID instances are up — however that does not imply what it used to imply. Specialists clarify tips on how to navigate this summer season’s uptick and what to anticipate this fall.


It’s a truth. COVID instances are up once more. The CDC is describing it as an uptick after an extended interval of declining charges. There’s additionally a brand new omicron variant on the rise. So how can we make sense of what’s going on on this fourth summer season of dwelling with COVID? NPR’s Pien Huang is right here to clarify. Hey, Pien.

PIEN HUANG, BYLINE: Hey, Mary Louise.

KELLY: Hello. I am depressed to even be speaking about this. How are we speaking about this? It appears like this isn’t a wave essentially. What are you calling it?

HUANG: Yeah. I imply, it is – I am in the identical boat as you. It isn’t a wave, however I am calling it extra of a summer season swell. And it is displaying up within the nationwide knowledge from wastewater surveillance, which – the place you’ll be able to see that the virus ranges have been going up prior to now month in each area. This is how Dr. Celine Gounder put it. She’s an infectious illness specialist and a senior fellow at KFF.

CELINE GOUNDER: Yeah. This isn’t actually a surge, and so it isn’t dismissing that COVID is a menace. It is that you need to know when to sound the alarms and when to not.

HUANG: So by the CDC numbers this week, there’s been a 12.5% improve in folks getting hospitalized with COVID. However well being consultants do stress that that also signifies that hospitalizations are close to an all-time low. So Gounder says that that is positively one thing to look at, however it’s not one thing to panic over. Whereas the dangers are extra critical for some, there are instruments which are obtainable to assist.

KELLY: The dangers are extra critical for some. Who needs to be extra involved now?

HUANG: Yeah. Yeah. So there are some folks that have an actual elevated threat of hospitalization and demise, even when they have been vaccinated. So this consists of the aged, people who find themselves immunocompromised, individuals who reside in nursing properties, people who find themselves pregnant, infants. And now as instances are going up, they may need to take into consideration doing issues that may mitigate the dangers, like avoiding crowds, perhaps carrying a masks once they’re grocery purchasing or touring, utilizing air filters in rooms, spending extra time outdoors if they are going to hang around with folks. And, after all, you realize, the individuals who reside with them, go to them, spend time with them – they may additionally need to be taking precautions, too.

KELLY: And this new variant we talked about – what can we find out about it?

HUANG: So the brand new variant that individuals are speaking about now is named EG.5. It is a subvariant of omicron. So meaning it is nonetheless actually intently associated to what’s been circulating since early 2022, and it is change into extra dominant over the previous few months. So proper now it is estimated to be accountable in 17% of instances. This is how Dr. Mandy Cohen, head of the CDC, talked in regards to the variants this week. She spoke on the podcast “In The Bubble With Andy Slavitt.”


MANDY COHEN: They’re nonetheless prone to our vaccines. They’re nonetheless prone to our medicines. They’re nonetheless picked up by the checks. So all of our instruments nonetheless work because the virus modifications. However we will need to maintain watching it.

KELLY: Pien, talking of the vaccine, ought to all of us go get a shot now to shore up safety?

HUANG: Properly, the overall recommendation from consultants proper now’s that if you happen to can, it will make sense to carry off for an additional month or two. In order that’s as a result of the booster that is obtainable at present is definitely an previous formulation from final yr. There is a new model of the COVID vaccine coming this fall in late September, early October, and that is the one which targets newer variants.

KELLY: So simply briefly, it appears like we might need to maintain off.

HUANG: Yeah, precisely. I imply, we anticipate that there is going to be an precise surge within the colder months. So if you happen to wait to get the up to date booster this fall, you are going to be higher protected heading into the vacation season.

KELLY: NPR’s Pien Huang. Thanks.

HUANG: You are welcome.

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