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Three Weeks Omicron Spread Throughout The Houston Metropolitan Region

Three Weeks Omicron Spread Throughout The Houston Metropolitan Region

Hospitalization rates are currently highest in New Jersey, Ohio and Delaware, where there are more than 50 Covid-19 hospitalizations for every 100,000 people. They’re lowest in Alaska and Wyoming, with less than 10 Covid-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 people.

Dr. James Musser of the Houston Methodist Research Institute and colleagues reported on the cases of 862 Covid-19 patients treated at the hospital system between November 27 and December 18. The system sequences the genomes of most cases, so they have a good picture of which variants are involved.

“In three weeks Omicron spread throughout the Houston metropolitan region and became the cause of 90% of new COVID-19 cases,” they wrote in their report, posted online as a preprint and not yet peer-reviewed.
“Compared to patients infected with either Alpha or Delta variants and cared for in our system, significantly fewer Omicron patients were hospitalized, and those who were hospitalized required significantly less intense respiratory support and had a shorter length of stay. We cautiously interpret our findings to be consistent with decreased disease severity among Houston Methodist Omicron patients,” they added.

Remember: It’s not clear that Omicron is less virulent, and the study was not designed to show that, they cautioned. “Many factors undoubtedly have contributed, including but not limited to increased vaccination uptake, population immunity, and patient demographics such as younger age. The extent to which our findings translate to other cities and other patient populations, including children, is unknown.”

But they could show how quickly Omicron took over. “The estimated case doubling time during this three-week period was approximately 2.2 days, which means that Omicron increased in frequency approximately three times faster than Delta had increased in our area, an unprecedented trajectory for SARS-COV-2 infections,” they wrote.

And they could show that Omicron evades the protection offered by vaccines, at least to some degree. “We found 430 of the 862 total Omicron patients (49.9%) for whom we have whole genome sequence data met the CDC definition of vaccine breakthrough cases,” they wrote. Just 9.9% of the patients had gotten a booster dose, they found.

The researchers could not find an easy way to measure whether the time since a person was vaccinated had an effect on their risk of a breakthrough infection. They also noted that their study represents just 5% of cases in the Houston metro region.

2 hr 9 min ago
Detroit schools closed until Wednesday because of record Covid-19 surge
From CNN’s David Shortall

Public schools in Detroit are closed Monday through Wednesday as the city faces an all-time high Covid-19 infection rate, according to a letter sent to parents Friday from superintendent Nikolai Vitti.

No virtual classes will be offered as an alternative, Vitti said. Instead, employees will be required to take Covid-19 tests during the days off on Monday and Tuesday. Students are not required to test, but are encouraged, Vitti said, and 10 sites at schools across the city will offer free tests.

Nearly 20 percent of school employees who took voluntary Covid-19 tests last week tested positive, Vitti said. The city’s infection rate is even higher — at 36 percent.

As students return to classrooms on Monday, school leaders across Minnesota are readying themselves for what may be a spike in virus spread.

“What I’ve heard from superintendents is that they are nervous about omicron,“ said Bob Indihar, the executive director of the Minnesota Rural Education Association. “It seems to be the new normal that changes are going to happen and quarantines and people being out are just part of the process now. Districts are kind of taking it in stride.”

In the Twin Cities suburb of Roseville, district leaders decided to send students home in December to spend the last few school days in the month doing asynchronous distance learning. It meant school doors were closed for a total of 16 consecutive days over winter holidays.

“From a public health standpoint, we were hoping it would sort of mitigate that spread we were starting to see in the community,” said Roseville Area Schools communications director Josh Collins. “Also our staff has just been super, super taxed and stressed. We hoped it would give some relief for mental health and wellness going into the break.”

Now, as it welcomes students back to buildings, Collins said the district will be doing what it can to keep students learning in person. Leaders are encouraging families to get their students tested for COVID-19 and vaccinated before returning to classes in January.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe, more than 5.4 million people have died from the disease worldwide, including over 826,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

About 62% of the population in the United States is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and
“I just want to always be honest with New Yorkers about how bad this is,” Hochul said. “Yes, the sheer number of people infected are high, but I want to see whether or not the hospitalizations correlate with that.”

She continued, “And I’m anticipating to see that at least a certain percentage overall are not being treated for COVID.”

Hospitals will begin reporting their breakdowns Tuesday, but it’s unclear how soon the data will be publicly available.
3 hr 36 min ago
More than 100,000 people in the US are currently hospitalized with Covid-19, data shows
From CNN’s Deidre McPhillips

More than 100,000 people are currently hospitalized with Covid-19 in the US for the first time in nearly four months, according to the latest data from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Covid-19 hospitalizations reached a record high of more than 142,000 about a year ago, on Jan. 14, and they last topped 100,000 on Sept. 11. There have only been 67 days throughout the entire pandemic when more than 100,000 people have been hospitalized with coronavirus.

Currently, about three-quarters of hospital beds across the country are full, and one in seven are for Covid-19 patients.

There are more than 18,500 Covid-19 patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Nearly 78% of intensive care unit beds are currently occupied, and about a quarter of them are for Covid-19 patients.

Child hospitalizations are the highest they’ve ever been, with more than 500 children admitted each day over the week ending Dec. 31, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the latest data from the CDC, cumulative hospitalization rates through November are about eight times higher for unvaccinated adults and about 10 times higher for unvaccinated children ages 12 to 17.

Here’s a look at how US hospitalizations have changed over time, according to HHS data:

“We’re still going to see a lot of people get sick and a lot of hospitalizations, but the overall severity may end up being significantly lower,” he said.

Murthy said both South Africa and the U.K. “had a very rapid rise, but then they had a very steep fall” in cases

“I’m hoping that that’s what happens here too,” he added.
“This is an important step we can take to help more partners get vaccinated, limit the spread of COVID-19, and create choices that partners can own based on what’s best for them,” Culver wrote.

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Workers will have until Feb. 9 to be fully vaccinated.

Those who choose to undergo weekly testing instead will be responsible for obtaining their own tests — which cannot be self-administered or taken at home — and submitting results.
Close to 60 percent of Roseville public school students had already received their vaccinations in December. Collins said the district was relying on that number to rise as more younger students made it to vaccine appointments.

“We’re hoping we’ll see a reduction [in COVID-19 spread] just because of the vaccine availability to younger students,” Collins said. “We expect to see a bit of a bump, but then we hope to see things drop.”

Vaccine rates are similar among students in the Bloomington Public School district. Community relations executive director Rick Kaufman said the district has seen big rises in the number of 5- to 12-year-old students getting vaccinated.

Still, after meetings with state and local public health officials, he worries whether it will be enough to blunt an omicron surge.

“It doesn’t look good,” Kaufman said. “I think it’s going to be an extreme struggle for school districts coming back in January. … Primarily, I think it’s going to be difficult for staffing.”

November COVID-19 spikeSends Minnesota students home, closing schools
PreviouslyMinnesota’s largest school district drops mask mandate for K-6 students
Kaufman expects more staff will test positive for the coronavirus.

Bloomington school leaders are determined to keep schools open as long as possible and they’re putting out messages to students, staff and families to get vaccinated as well as boosted if they’re eligible, Kaufman added.

“To sum it up, school districts are going to see a challenge of more cases, staffing issues and probably having to consider more quarantines because of the spread that likely will occur in school,” he said.

“If you don’t have your vaccination, get it. That’s going to go a long way in slowing the spread.”

In Minneapolis, district leadership is warning families they may have to close school buildings because of COVID-19 spread. In an email to families and staff on Sunday afternoon, district officials said they were not planning to move the entire district to distance learning, but that they might have to temporarily move some individual schools to distance learning in reaction to the surge in cases Minnesota is experiencing.

Jan 03, 1:43 pm
COVID positivity rate at US Capitol reaches 13%
The seven-day positivity rate at the U.S. Capitol COVID-19 testing center has increased from 1% to 13%, according to a letter sent from the Office of the Attending Physician to congressional offices on Monday.

Most cases have been breakthroughs among people who are fully vaccinated and have not “led to hospitalizations, serious complications, or deaths, attesting to the value of coronavirus vaccinations,” the letter reads.

The letter also states that about 61% of COVID-19 infections at the Capitol have been linked to the omicron variant, and 38% are linked to the delta variant.

The OAP advised congressional offices to telework as much as possible and that “blue surgical masks, cloth face masks and gaiter masks must be replaced by the more protective KN95 or N95 masks.”

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