COVID-19 cases are surging in the US, prompting the country’s two biggest cities to encourage masking


COVID-19 cases are surging in the US, prompting the country's two biggest cities to encourage masking

But in the country’s two most populous cities — New York City and Los Angeles — Local officials are urging residents to wear masks to protect themselves from the virus amid increases in cases and hospitalizations. And in Arizona, every county but one has a “high” community COVID-19 score.

The CDC encourages everyone living in areas with “high” levels of COVID to wear a mask in indoor public places.

The New York City health commissioner issued advice Friday urging people to wear masks in indoor public spaces and crowded outdoor areas, warning that COVID-19, the flu and other respiratory viruses are “seeing unusually high simultaneous spikes.” “.

Los Angeles officials face the possibility of reinstating an indoor mask mandate in the city if hospitalizations, one of two key metrics that drive mask rules, reach the threshold to trigger such a requirement.

New England has – so far – been spared the CDC’s “high” rating at the community level. All of Maine and New Hampshire and all counts except one in Vermont have “low” COVID-19 community levels in place. In Massachusetts, most counties are considered “intermediate” COVID-19 community levels, according to the CDC.

dr Shira Doron, an infectious disease physician at Tufts Medical Center, warned that the CDC’s data does not fully reflect the levels of COVID-19 circulating in communities because most COVID-19 cases are now being discovered by Rapid at-home tests, and the CDC’s fall rates are based on the results of PCR tests. However, coupled with sewage data, which is a leading indicator of COVID-19 flare-ups and does not depend on the results of COVID-19 tests, the numbers suggest an increase in the amount of virus circulating in the United States.

“Whether it’s directly related to Thanksgiving or not, it appears that starting a few days after Thanksgiving, we entered a period of an upsurge in cases and an upsurge in hospitalizations,” Doron said, adding that some areas are experiencing higher levels of COVID -19 transmission are relatively close to New England, such as New York, but many are in the southwest and central parts of the country.

While Massachusetts appears to be doing better than other areas of the state, Doron expects at least some counties in the state to be included in the CDC’s highest COVID tier soon enough.

A combination of factors will likely fuel the rise in cases and hospitalizations, Doron said. Readings are escalating at a time when the weather is getting colder, and there is evidence that respiratory viruses have a seasonal element.

“Probably it’s a combination of maybe temperature and humidity and probably a bit of behavior and more time indoors,” Doron said. “But technically it’s not one of those because we see seasonal patterns even in parts of the world that don’t have a lot of weather changes.”

The other factor is variants. The past few weeks have marked a shift from the prevalence of the omicron variant BA.5 to BQ.1 and BQ.1.1, Doron said.

“It would not be unexpected that these two subvariants — which are immune-evasive compared to population-generated immunity — would lead to an increase in cases beyond a certain prevalence threshold,” Doron said.

The underlying element of all of these contributing factors is the ebb and flow of immunity “that we’re going to see forever and ever,” Doron said, as people’s protection from circulating viruses increases and then decreases.

“I think what we’re seeing now is really what we can expect for the rest of the time,” Doron said.

Amanda Kaufman can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @amandakauf1.

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