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Concern is growing as the rate of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 is increasing across the United States as summer winds down.
According to reports, recorded data shows that COVID-19 hospital admissions were at 9,056. That number is an increase of 12% from the week before. However, when compared to data recording peaks from the past—44,000 weekly hospital admissions at the beginning of January, almost 45,000 in late July 2022, and the 150,000 admissions during the Omicron variant surge of January 2022—this surge isn’t worrying some in public health.
One reason is that while the rising amount of COVID-19 found in the wastewater of cities across the U.S. since June has been noticed, especially in the Northeast and the South, the rate is still 2.5 times lower than last summer according to Biobot Analytics epidemiologist Cristin Young, who is working with the Centers For Disease Control (CDC). Levels of the virus are currently being monitored at over 1,300 sewage treatment plants across the nation.
Another factor is the rate of immunity and vaccinations that have already taken place and the preparation of a newly updated COVID-19 vaccine for the fall which will address the Omicron XBB.1.5 strain. This differs from previous vaccines that contained a combination of the original and more common Omicron variants.
There is a newly detected COVID-19 variant, EG.5 which is being unofficially dubbed “Eris”. This variant is believed to be behind 17% of all new COVID-19 cases in the states. The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently called the Eris variant “one of interest”. So far, researchers are noting that it doesn’t seem to be presenting a serious issue. “The virus does not appear to be evolving to become either more transmissible or more lethal at this point,” said Dr. Jay Varma, an epidemiologist at Weill Cornell Medical College.
“It is ticking up a little bit, but it’s not something that we need to raise any alarm bells over,” said Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health infectious disease specialist Dr. David Dowdy. Health officials are again advising people to take precautions, such as masking up and sanitizing thoroughly. “I’m not sure if it’s a surge, per se, or just uptick,” said Dr. David Boulware, a professor of medicine specializing in infectious diseases at the University of Minnesota Medical School before adding that it’s a reminder “that, yes, Covid still exists.”