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WPCNR COVID DAILY. By John F. Bailey. May 31, 2022:

The New York State Covid Tracker suspended posting daily covid positive test results for the previous days testing Saturday, Sunday and Monday of Memorial Day Weekend. It is unclear why since to this reporter’s observation they have not suspended reporting daily results in the 2 years I have been observing the daily county-by-county reports.

Hopefully the results will resume today indicating the conglomerate of new positives over Friday Saturday and Sunday and I can resume my daily Covid totals to keep you abreast of the state of covid spread, or decline. Without the daily numbers, diminished as they may be by the decline in daily testing, or not, the citizens do not have adequate awareness of the presence of the disease.

Through last Thursday, in the 5 days of last week so far reported, The week previously was the first time Westchester new covid cases had decreased in 8 weeks.

In her packaged formatted Covid briefing last week, Governor Kathy Hochul said the statewide 7-Day average case rate was the lowest since May 5th–9 days of consecutive decline cases continue, she said to trend down across all regions the previous week. This was very hopeful. But, hospitalizations for covid in Westchester were up to 110 a week ago.

I suggest that the way the state reports daily infections by region in 100,000 population segments as hope-fulfilling it may be is misleading and presents a more positive upbeat analysis of the covid infections that seduce the casual observer who does not know an individual county or region total population to divide by 100,000 increments to get the single digit number to multiply the daily positives to figure the total volume of cases.

The Mid-Hudson Region in one grid had 44 cases a day per 100,000 last Wednesday, the 25th. Mid-Hudson has a total population of 2.4 Million . Divide that by 100,000 and you get 24 increments of 100,000, and multiply 24 times 44 daily cases for the region on one day and you get 1,056 cases across the 7 counties of Westchester, Dutchess, Orange, Rockland, Ulster, Sullivan and Putnam Counties–of which Westchester had 517 new positives that day May 25, less than 6 days ago. See what I mean? It is a lot easier to say, “Oh…44 a day that’s low.” But, but, it is not low it means 1,056 cases.

Subtract Westchester 517, you get 539 for the other 6 counties which is 90 new infections average per county per day. the 100,000 moving day average is making a high figure look smaller.

In Westchester County through the 5 days of last week so far reported, given the weekend absence of daily reports to close out the week, Westchester lead the 7 counties in the Mid-Hudson with 440 new cases a day since April 4 when only lab-certified positives would be counted in reporting new cases.

Hopefully this is not a permanent disappearance of daily tracker reports. The daily count should not have been stopped.

Since April 4, the testing universes of Westchester have dropped since only lab-certified results are being recorded as new cases.

With the lower testing, since May 8, Westchester positives per day average 10% of those tested Last week the average through 5 days was still 10%.

That 10% percentage of positives has to come down otherwise Westchester will continue to produce a steady 3,000 new covid infections a week.

Infections of covid rise sharply on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays when people after a weekend begin to feel possible infection symptoms. This has been a pattern over the last 3 weeks. Through Wednesday, May 25, Westchester had hit 2,280 new positives for last week, if the 440 per day new infections continued Friday and Saturday, Westchester we would have had 3, 160 for last week, a decrease from 3,550 the second straight week infections were lowered.

At this point, in the absence of the New York Covid Tracker figures on positives for the last three days, I provide this timely observance by Katelyn Jetelina , “Your Local Epidemologist” analyzing in lucid fashion the latest information on national and local covid trends.

COVID State of Affairs: May 31 Katelyn Jetelina May 31

The global average of reported cases and deaths continue to decline across the world. There are a few exceptions, most notably in Taiwan, Portugal, Australia, and the United States.

It’s not entirely clear if we can continue to judge the global situation by comparing per capita case rates across countries. Many countries are winding down systematic testing efforts and enormous country-to-country variability exists regarding at-home antigen testing, like availability, usage, and official reporting.

The true story will soon (if not already) be inaccurately reflected in the case graphs that we’ve become so accustomed to following.

In South Africa, the BA.4/5 wave is receding quickly. Deaths continue to increase 19%, but as the Financial Times figure shows below, each successive wave since Beta is less severe.

While this is great news, it’s reported that there is even less urgency than before to get vaccinated.

Given that only 31% of the population has the primary series, a big challenge lies ahead for public health officials.

Many eyes are on Portugal as BA.5 takes hold. Like South Africa, Portugal preceded their BA.4/5 wave with a huge BA.1 wave. So far, cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are all increasing and, in fact, are much higher than in South Africa. This only solidifies that a variant’s impact in one country will not necessarily be the same in another due to variability in demographics, environment, behaviors, and immunity.

United States

The “battle of Omicron” is currently taking place in the U.S. After our first massive BA.1 wave, BA.2 tried to take hold only to be overtaken by BA.2.12.1. Now, BA.4 and BA.5 are gaining traction very quickly and seem to be easily outcompeting the rest.

Given recent lab studies, though, this isn’t a surprise. BA.4/5 are particularly good at escaping antibodies and reinfecting people previously infected with Omicron, as well as boosted individuals. Once BA.4/5 account for the majority of cases in the U.S., we should expect another (or extended) case surge.

(It’s not entirely clear why BA.4/5 have not shown up on CDC’s variant tracker yet.)(Trevor Bedford Twitter Here)

Currently, we (The United States) are in a massive case surge.

We are averaging 110,000 cases per day, but we know cases are vastly underreported.

Using my back-of-the-napkin calculations, the true wave looks something like the graph below. These rough calculations were confirmed more eloquently in a recent pre-print in which scientists estimated the true case counts in New York City from April to May 2022.

They found true case counts were 31 times higher than the official reported numbers.While it looks like we may have peaked recently, this could be simply a reflection of the holiday weekend.

We will need a few days to see if and how case reporting stabilizes.

Regionally, cases are stabilizing in the Northeast, but new hot spots have taken hold in the West and mid-Atlantic. South Carolina is the acceleration leader (+113%) followed by Montana (+110%), Arizona (+109%), New Mexico (+106%), and Alabama (+97%).

The changing hotspot dynamic is reflected in national wastewater trends below.

Regional wastewater trends, past 6 weeks (panel 1) and entire pandemic (panel 2). Purple= Midwest; Orange= Northeast; Pink=South; Green=West. Source: Biobot Analytics

Hospitalizations are certainly increasing and continue to lag case trends, but remain below all previous peaks.

Nationwide, 26,804 people are hospitalized, and among these, 11% are in the ICU. (This is compared to the Omicron peak, in which 17% of reported cases were in the ICU.) Deaths have increased 22% in the past two weeks, which means 368 people are dying each day.

With regard to vaccine effectiveness, a strange pattern is starting to emerge—one that we may see more and more often: case rates among the boosted are higher than case rates among the vaccinated but not boosted. This is clearly displayed on the CDC website below. Don’t be surprised if boosted cases even pass the rate of unvaccinated cases soon.

(CDC)This is not because boosters increase the risk of infection. Instead, several other factors are coming into play:

More at home antigen testing. We don’t have a good sense, at all, about at-home testing behaviors and subsequent biases. For example, those with a booster may be more likely get a PCR than those without a booster;

Unvaccinated and not boosted people were more likely to get infected during the Omicron wave, so they may be more protected against infection than the boosted right now;We know vaccine protection against infection wanes over time, and the majority of Americans were boosted more than 6 months ago now; and,Boosted people may be getting more and more comfortable letting their guard down, while other groups may have passed this stage long ago.

As a result, the boosted group may truly be getting infected more now than before.

Regardless of the reason, vaccines continue to protect swimmingly well against severe disease and death. For example, unvaccinated people had 17 times higher risk of dying in March and April 2022 compared to vaccinated people.(CDC)

Bottom line

We are in the middle of our second largest case surge and our fifth largest hospitalization surge. If you don’t want to get sick and/or want to protect those around you, wear a good mask.

If you do get sick, even the sniffles, test yourself. Trust the positive test; if you’re negative, retest in 24-48 hours. If you’re high risk, please consider getting a prescription of Paxlovid (find a test-to-treat place near you here or call your physician). Stay healthy out there and break those transmission chains.

Your Local Epidemiologist (YLE)” is written by Dr. Katelyn Jetelina, MPH PhD—an epidemiologist, biostatistician, wife, and mom of two little girls. During the day she works at a nonpartisan health policy think tank, and at night she writes this newsletter. Her main goal is to “translate” the ever-evolving public health science so that people will be well equipped to make evidence-based decisions. This newsletter is free thanks to the generous support of fellow YLE community members. To support the effort, please subscribe here:

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