Just marking time. Trend remains at 13% per week increase in cases.
Data source for this and other graphs of new case counts: Calculated from The New York Times. (2021). Coronavirus (Covid-19) Data in the United States. Retrieved 12/4/2021, from https://github.com/nytimes/covid-19-data.” The NY Times U.S. tracking page may be found at https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html.
Four states now have more than 80 new cases / 100,000 / day. New Hampshire is just under 100 new cases / 100K / day.
|State||New cases / 100K / day|
Not grim enough
Funny thing is, we’re so used to having the crap hit the fan that we don’t even notice it unless its in our own back yard. So, you haven’t read about it but New Hampshire had to call out the National Guard to help their hospitals deal with the COVID-19 cases. Minnesota’s ICUs are completely full. And Michigan hospitals are full up.
And so on and so forth and nobody gives a crap any more. An entire state’s worth of ICU beds fills up with COVID-19 patients and it doesn’t even get a mention in the national news.
All pandemics are local, I guess.
In that same spirit, I now think that yesterday’s post was not grim enough. I spent all my time trying to get the fact straight, and not enough time highlighting what those facts imply.
Let me now fix that by simply reciting the facts, as I think I now understand them.
- We are already on course for a U.S. winter wave that’s roughly the same size as last year. Certainly later than last year, owing to the warmer weather this year. Maybe a little lower. But it has all the same earmarks as last year.
- That’s from the Delta variant. Based on recent history, we can expect about 8 percent of those diagnosed with Delta to require hospitalization, and about 1.2 percent to die.
- We’re already maxing out hospital capacity in a handful of northern states, from that winter wave.
- Now we have Omicron on top of that. Omicron took one month to displace Delta in South Africa. If it does a repeat of that here, it’ll become the dominant strain here by the end of 2021. Right in the heart of our 2021-22 winter wave.
- Omicron generates more new cases than Delta. It is apparently two or more times as transmissible as Delta. All other things equal, it would generate vastly more new cases than Delta, as I explained in a post a few days ago.
- Omicron can probably infect most of our vaccinated population. Two shots of vaccine is not enough to invoke significant antibody response against Delta. You need two shots and a booster, or two shots and a prior COVID infection.
There has been talk and some anecdotal evidence that Omicron infections are less severe than Delta infections. We’d better hope that’s true. By a lot.
And, informed opinion suggests that two shots of vaccine should be enough to avoid most severe disease from Omicron. Even if that level of vaccination is not enough to prevent infection by Omicron. Let’s hope that is true, as well.
FWIW, my wife and I went to Costco yesterday, which is a store that I never visit if I can avoid it. But it’s a great place for large quantities of shelf-stable foods. I also put in an order for another box of KF94 masks from Amazon.
We did that mostly because this seems to be shaping up be a fairly grim New Year’s. We were going to have a winter wave anyway. To that, we’re now going to add a new variant that will generate far more new cases. And, as I learned yesterday, the majority of the population thinks its vaccinated against this new variant, but it’s not. You need that third shot in order to provoke significant antibody response to Omicron.
Put all that on the table, and seriously, what do you expect to happen? Sure seems like there’s going to be a lot of cases, no matter how you slice it. I’m pretty much going to take “a lot of new cases” as a given.
The only real uncertainty is severity of illness. Omicron is rumored to generate mostly mild infections. In addition, experts expect that two vaccine doses will have primed enough parts of your immune system that the vaccinated will largely avoid severe illness even if (when) infected with Omicron.
Either or both of those could be right. Or they could be wrong. Hard data on Omicron severity of illness will be the next think I’ll be keeping an eye out for.