While many of us optimistically hoped that the coronavirus would be a distant memory by this point, that is hardly the reality. We’ve entered 2022 with one of the worst surges of the entire pandemic, with the Omicron variant causing record high infection numbers in the US, and although COVID numbers dropped significantly in February and March, they’re on the rise again. In the past week, the United States has reported an average of almost 110,000 new infections per day, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Now one of the nation’s top COVID advisors is giving Americans “sobering” news. Read on for the latest warning from the top White House COVID adviser Anton Faucimd
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There have been several forms of the coronavirus over the past two years. Some of the most notable were the Delta variant, which launched in the summer of 2021, and the Omicron variant, which surged last winter. But none of these versions of the virus are dominant in the US anymore.
In recent months, BA.2, a subvariant of the original Omicron variant, has caused the majority of new COVID infections in the country. But in the past week a new Omicron subvariant has taken over: BA.2.12.1. According to US News & World Report, this subvariant is now responsible for 58 percent of newly reported COVID cases — up from 49 percent last week.
During an interview on May 26th The snack Podcast hosted by a correspondent from CBS News Major Garrett, Fauci discussed the current state of the pandemic in the US amid rising coronavirus cases. When asked if the country was experiencing its fifth wave of COVID-19, the infectious disease expert was reluctant to specifically call it a “wave,” but acknowledged the challenging situation.
“We certainly have a number of cases that have increased,” Fauci said. “The daily average is now over 100,000 a day. Shall we call this a wave? I’m not so sure. I think it’s a bit semantic. I think we should say that we are seeing an increase in infections. That’s the disillusionment. News.”
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It’s not all bad news, however. According to Fauci, there are also promising signs regarding COVID cases right now. “The somewhat encouraging news is that parts of the country that used to have gains are starting to stabilize and decline,” he said. “This is New York City in particular. This is the Chicago area. This is the Washington, DC area.”
The latest data from the CDC shows the number of U.S. counties with high virus spreads has fallen to just 250 — down 16 percent from the previous week, NBC New York reported. New York in particular has seen a significant drop, with the number of high-transmission counties across the states down from 54 last week to 30 this week, according to the news outlet.
Fauci and Garrett also discussed the host’s recent breakthrough COVID infection, which came after two vaccines and two booster shots. Garrett’s last booster shot was given on May 9 – just 13 days before he tested positive. Now, according to Fauci, the problem is that variant BA 2.12.1 is more of an upper respiratory tract virus, while most of the protection offered by vaccines and boosters is related to lower respiratory tract disease.
“The only thing that’s proven is protection against systemic disease, especially lung disease,” Fauci explained. “However, the upper airways have become a vulnerable target.”
To try to prevent overall COVID exposure and avoid breakthrough infection, Fauci said he agrees with the current CDC guideline about wearing masks in places where “you have an increase in cases.” According to the CDC, the recommendation is to “wear a well-fitting mask in public, regardless of vaccination status or individual risk” when in a community with high transmission.
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