A COVID-19 Roundup: Surges, Vaccines & Variants

It seems that new information surrounding variants of COVID-19 is distributed on a daily basis. Omicron has currently taken center stage, when it was not long ago that the Delta variant was making top headlines. 

We compiled the latest insights and recommendations regarding the pandemic — particularly as it relates to the holiday season — here is what you should know. 

COVID-19 Cases in the US 

• According to Johns Hopkins University, the United States is currently averaging 130,499 new COVID-19 cases every day. 

• The average is now back to levels during the summer upswing. It is also 10% higher than just one week ago. 

• It is reported by the US Department of Health and Human Services that almost 80% of ICU beds are at full capacity; one in five patients are positive for COVID-19. 

• COVID-19 is putting a major strain on the world of sports; from basketball, to hockey, to football. Teams have had to bench infected players and cancel or post-pone game amid outbreaks. 

Omicron 

• Dr. Francis Collins, the National Institute of Health’s Director, recently shared that the Omicron variant is extremely contagious. So much so, it could possibly cause hundreds of thousands — up to a million cases — every day. 

• It is believed that Omicron is responsible for milder symptoms. However, the stag-gering volume of cases could catapult an even higher rise in inpatient care. 

Vaccinations 

• Those who have not received the COVID-19 vaccine have a greater risk, by 10 times, to test positive for the virus. According to the latest data provided by the CDC, they are also reportedly 20 times more likely to die from COVID-19 complica-tions vs. those who are fully vaccinated and boosted.

• Biotechnology company, Moderna, announced that preliminary data suggests its half-dose booster shot enhanced antibody levels against the Omicron variant, in contrast to levels seen when a person who is fully vaccinated did not receive a booster shot. Evidently a larger-sized booster dose increases antibody levels even further. Moderna says it is working on developing variant-specific boosters. 

Cases Around the World 

• In an effort to get ahead of the Omicron variant, countries across Europe are en-forcing more stringent COVID-19 protocols. For example, Denmark recently announced they are closing movie cinemas, theaters, and museums. Additionally, they are banning the sale of alcohol after 10 p.m. and requesting that venues in the hospitality space close down earlier than their normal operating hours.

South Africa COVID-19 cases are now declining. Officials from the South African Medical Association say that the Omicron variant is not the reason for their spike in death rates, and their current cases are not as severe as Delta variant cases. 

Trains, Plane and Automobiles 

• According to a spokesperson for the cruise line, Royal Caribbean, their ship that docked in Miami, Florida last week confirmed that 48 passengers on board tested positive for COVID-19. To provide some context, this infection rate is less than 1% of people on board, as there were over 6,000 passengers including guests and workers.

• Medical experts are recommending that people who are traveling during the holidays, take safety precautions seriously. One piece of guidance includes quarantin-ing for a minimum of three days before visiting friends and family. Of course the resounding recommendation from healthcare authorities include getting COVID-19 tested and becoming fully vaccinated. 

In our upcoming, final blog post for 2021, we will cover the latest and greatest healthcare technology trends and medical breakthroughs.