The country’s daily case rate — about 55,000 a day — is still less than a third of what it was during the Omicron peak, but cases are rising as fast as they were falling just two weeks earlier, when self-isolation rules for infected people ended in the UK.
The situation has caught the eye of American public health experts, who worry that Europe’s rise in infections may be a preview of what’s to come in the US. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN that his British counterparts have pegged the rise in cases to a combination of three factors: The more transmissible BA.2 variant; the opening of society and people mingling more indoors without masks; and waning immunity from vaccination or prior infection.
“Without a doubt, opening up society and having people mingle indoors is clearly something that is a contributor, as well as overall waning immunity, which means we’ve really got to stay heads-up and keep our eye on the pattern here,” Fauci said. “So that’s the reason why we’re watching this very carefully.”
In the UK, 86% of eligible people are fully vaccinated, and 67% are boosted, compared with 69% of those eligible vaccinated and 50% boosted in the US. “What we see happening in the UK is going to be perhaps a better story than what we should be expecting here,” Althoff said.
Even though the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) did away with masking recommendations for most parts of the country two weeks ago, it is vital to stay vigilant. “We have to stay diligent in terms of monitoring of it and testing and be prepared to possibly reverse a lot of the relaxing of these restrictions,” said Deborah Fuller, a microbiologist at the University of Washington.
“We can’t let our guard down, because the message that people get when they say ‘we’re lifting restrictions’ is the pandemic is over. And it’s not.”
YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED.
Q: What factors should people consider if they need to return to work in person?
“People should consider three factors. What are your medical circumstances and that of others in your household? What’s the level of Covid-19 in your community? And finally what safety precautions are already being taken in your place of work?” Wen added. “Some offices require proof of vaccination, require regular testing, distancing, and ventilation. And remember that masks are always available, even if they are not required,” she said.
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White House warns Congress about potential disruptions to Covid response
The latest warnings mark an escalation in pressure from the Biden administration ahead of key funding deadlines. Additional funding for federal Covid-19 efforts was initially included in a recent massive omnibus spending package, but was stripped out following a spat over how the spending would be offset.
As daily cases rise in Europe, a senior Biden administration official warned that Congress’ failure to pass a supplemental Covid-19 funding bill could leave the US unprepared for another potential surge. “Our scientific and medical experts have been clear that in the next couple of months, we could see Covid cases increase here in the US just as we’re seeing cases rising abroad right now,” the senior official said, adding, “We are less well prepared without additional funding than we would be otherwise.”
In China, 37 million people are in lockdown as the country suffers its worst outbreak since Wuhan
China is battling its worst Covid-19 outbreak since the early days of the pandemic. This outbreak has spread far faster than previous waves of less infectious variants, with daily cases skyrocketing from a few dozen in February to more than 5,100 on Tuesday — the highest figure since the early 2020 outbreak in Wuhan.
Authorities and state media say it is still unclear how the first few outbreaks began. But several factors — including cases imported from overseas and the prevalence of the Omicron variant — exacerbated the severity of the outbreak nationwide.
She had a near-death experience because of Covid. But it wasn’t a glimpse of an afterlife that changed her
They were spiritually transformed not by a glimpse of the afterlife but by what they saw in this life, when they were struggling to stay alive after being stricken by Covid.
Those type of stories don’t tend to get book or movie deals. Yet people like Paige Deiner, 41, have these incredible stories of survival that can help us all.
Start with the power of gratitude. It’s a cliché for some, but not for many Covid survivors. “I think often of how much we take for granted,” Deiner wrote in a Facebook post not long after she was released from the hospital in December, “from the ability to walk or swallow to breathe.”
- Masks need to be stored in a dry area, said Christopher Sulmonte, project administrator for the Johns Hopkins Biocontainment Unit at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. “I personally use a paper bag without sealing it, because the big thing is you want it to recirculate with air,” he said.
- Store your face coverings using a plastic container with holes in it.
- For cloth masks, make sure to wash them like you would any other piece of clothing you own.
- If you’re taking a break from wearing a mask, be sure to check the expiration date, this can often be found on the outside of the boxes.