While official data indicates relatively low rates of severe COVID-19 cases in the US, experts believe that the number of infections may be underestimated by the current surveillance systems, according to a CNN report.
In recent weeks, COVID-19 levels in the US have been steadily increasing. Federal data shows that the current surge is not as severe as earlier peaks and surges. However, the report notes that many people are reporting cases of COVID-19 among their family members, friends, and coworkers.
Janet Hamilton, the executive director of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, stated, “There is more transmission out there than what the surveillance data indicates. We should be paying attention to it because we are starting to see an increase.”
Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics sciences and chief strategy officer of population health at the University of Washington, has been receiving numerous calls and questions about COVID-19, similar to what he experienced at the end of the previous year.
Weekly hospital admissions have nearly doubled over the past month, including a 19% increase in the most recent week, according to CDC data. However, hospitals have adjusted their testing practices to align with federal requirements and local risk assessments, making it challenging to compare data from different time periods.
Hospitals reduce testing efforts to focus on those who exhibit symptoms
Hospitals have reduced testing efforts to focus on those who exhibit symptoms, have been exposed, or might come into contact with high-risk patients. Data from biotechnology firm Biobot Analytics indicates that wastewater concentrations of the coronavirus are similar to levels at the start of the first winter surge in 2020.
The increasing COVID-19 cases have led some schools, hospitals, and businesses to encourage or mandate mask-wearing once again. CDC Director Mandy Cohen has emphasized that COVID-19 remains a risk for unvaccinated individuals, particularly those who have not been previously infected and those who are older or have underlying health conditions.
Health officials are closely monitoring two new variants: the Omicron variant EG.5 (Eris), which is dominant in the US, and BA.2.86, which is beginning to spread. The World Health Organization (WHO) has labeled EG.5 or Eris as a “variant of interest” as cases increase worldwide.