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CDC Recommends Masks Again in New York City, Los Angeles and Other Communities as COVID Cases Rise

A growing number of communities are now seeing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations at levels high enough to warrant indoor mask-wearing and other measures to curb the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Thursday. . Several major cities are now considering going back to mask measures.

According to the agency weekly update, 13.7% of Americans now live in communities now classified as having “high” community levels of COVID-19, up from 4.9% of the population last week. An additional 38.1% of Americans are in “middle” areas and 48.2% in “low” areas.

Over ten large counties with over a 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 includes much of the New York metropolitan area. state officials recently urged schools to return to masking indoors to slow the spread of COVID-19, as well as the RSV respiratory virus and influenza. Los Angeles authorities have i also warned that indoor masking rules could return there as cases mount.

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

If incorporated into the CDC’s COVID-19 recommendations, that could mean flu and RSV cases would also be taken into account when the agency urges Americans to put on masks and take other precautions to help curb a surge that could overwhelm hospitals.

“We’ve also been working to try to develop, as quickly as possible, metrics that would be useful at the state or regional level to be able to visualize the level of overall respiratory viral activity,” Barbara Mahon of the CDC said this week. in a meeting of the agency’s external advisors.

Mahon said the agency expected the metrics to be “ready to go out soon.”

“Bumpy Days Ahead”

While Biden administration officials say they are confident that this year RSV increased appears to have peaked in most of the country, and there are early signs that flu hospitalizations it may also have peaked, both remaining near as bad levels as some of the worst previous seasons on record.

The pace of the new COVID-19 hospitalizations it has also risen at the national level, 13.8% more than the previous week. In nursing homes this week the CDC counted the worst rate of COVID-19 infections in residents since last February.

Approximately two out of three cases are now Estimate be the variants BQ.1 or BQ.1.1.modern Y Pfizer say that their laboratory data suggest their updated shots will offer additional protection against these Omicron strains.

But immuno-evasive strains recently forced the FDA to the bank the latest available antibody treatment for COVID-19 patients.

federal health authorities and some experts They have encouraged doctors caring for vulnerable and immunocompromised patients to turn to treatments such as convalescent plasma, while acknowledging that they can be hard to come by. Federal funds to support blood collection and increase plasma supplies before the pandemic expired in 2021.

“We are seeing a clear increase in COVID infections in almost all regions of the country, up 40% in recent weeks. So three challenges are coming at the same time. There will be some bumpy days ahead, Dr. Ashish Jha, the top White House COVID-19 official, told the Health Action Alliance in a event Thursday.

Jha said he urged people to seek treatments for the disease, as well as an updated COVID-19 booster.

Thanks in part to an expected slowdown in vaccinations over holiday weekends, CDC figures suggest that average pace of new COVID boosters administered has now plummeted 66% from its mid-October peak. On Wednesday, Mahon lamented that the pace of shooting is now “unfortunately slow.”

About 15.5% of adults and 34.2% of seniors now have an updated COVID booster, as of figures posted on Thursday. By comparison, the CDC survey data estimates that nearly 60% of seniors received an annual flu shot as of November of last year.

“The good news here is what happens, how this all plays out, how upsetting it is, how many people will get sick, a lot of that is up to us,” Jha added.

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