Does it feel like everyone suddenly has COVID (again)? You’re not alone – health experts predict there are far more cases than are officially reported due to at-home testing and changes in how data is collected. “There is a lot of COVID out there. I see it in my social circles, in my children’s schools, and in the infection counts of hospital workers.” says dr Shira Doron, an infectious disease physician and hospital epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. “We’re clearly in a wave.” Here are the signs, experts say, that there’s a hidden wave of COVID in the area where you live. Read on – and don’t miss these to protect your health and the health of others Sure signs you already had COVID.
Subvariant BA.2.12.1 is causing a spike in cases in the US, experts are warning about up to 27% more contagious as BA.2. “[Cases are] 27% more than a week ago,” says dr Allison Arwady, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Health. “You can see our positivity is up to 6.2% and keeps increasing. So I am guessing that most of you know someone who has had COVID recently or even has it now. There is a lot of COVID.”
Because many home tests aren’t reported to a central database, hospitalization rates and sewage data are a better gauge of infections in your community, experts say. “I think we’re in a situation where there’s a major surge happening, much of which is hidden from the usual sensors that we need to detect and gauge its magnitude.” says Denis Nash, an epidemiologist at the City University of New York.
“We know that protection from COVID-19 vaccines diminishes or offers less protection over time, especially in the Omicron era,” says Dr. Rochelle Walensky. “This is one of the reasons why booster shots are so important… A dose that can help bolster their protection against infection, urgent care visits, and especially hospitalization and death.” So, whether it’s your first booster or your second, if you haven’t had a vaccine dose since early December 2021, and you’re eligible, now is the time to get one.
Experts say the BA.2.12.1 symptoms are similar to those of a cold or flu, with fatigue, headaches and a runny nose commonly reported. “We’ve seen a lot more sore throats and sore throats that we haven’t really seen before.” says Nancy Crum, MD, an infectious disease specialist at Avita Health System in Galion, Ohio. “Patients may also have gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea and a loss of taste or smell, although I’ve seen this much less frequently with the newer variants.”
Long COVID is another “hidden wave,” with studies showing one in five people suffer from long-lasting virus symptoms. “As we enter a new phase of the pandemic where many people no longer view COVID-19 as a crisis, it is important to raise awareness of the potential long-term consequences of contracting the virus,” says Logan Sachon, Senior Managing Editor of Research at Policygenius. “Long COVID can last months or years, and without a safety net like disability insurance, it can be a debilitating event, both physically and financially.”
Follow public health principles and help end this pandemic no matter where you live – get vaccinated or boosted as soon as possible; If you live in an area with low vaccination rates, carry an N95 face masknot travelling, maintaining social distance, avoiding large crowds, not going indoors with people you cannot find refuge with (especially in bars), practicing good hand hygiene and to protect your life and the lives of others, do not visit any of these 35 places where you are most likely to contract COVID.
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for bringing science and research-backed information to a wide audience. Continue reading