COVID Creep — Not Again!

September 1, 2023

Overcast and breezy warm just after the noon hour Friday here in California’s Central Valley — coolest day yet as we’re forecast for temps in the high 80s for today and the weekend as we continue our slide into seasonal change the easy way.
Weather is a perspective ingredient centering on location.

The same, too, goes for that shitty COVID virus, which seems to be making a comeback (The Sacramento Bee this morning): ‘The number of patients in California hospitals with COVID-19 this week reached its highest point in five months, as the state’s test positivity rate has continued to climb this summer amid growing virus transmission.

Reportedly: ‘The rate at which reported test results are coming back positive is also up, now at 13.2 percent across California; at the start of summer, it was around 4 percent.

Nationwide is also developing an increasing rate since June:

The name, ‘EG.5‘ noted above — nicknamed ‘eris‘ — is the top CVID strain circulating in the US, and supposedly caused 22 percent of reported cases in the last two weeks.

Is COVID making a comeback, masks again, or what?
Leana S. Wen, professor at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, reports at The Washington Post yesterday afternoon, It’s too early to tell:

Scientists have raised alarms in recent weeks about a new, highly mutated coronavirus variant that might evade the protection of existing immune defenses. The variant, an offshoot of omicron named BA.2.86, requires careful attention by public health experts. But just like the summer uptick in coronavirus cases, it is not yet cause for concern for most Americans.

It’s not at all surprising that new variants are constantly emerging. As we have seen throughout the pandemic, when viruses replicate, they acquire mutations.

Whether a new set of mutations has public health consequences hinges on three key questions: Does it cause more severe disease? Will immunity through prior infection and vaccination protect against it? And is it more transmissible than currently dominant variants?


The second question is what’s most worrying to scientists. The genetic sequence of BA.2.86 has more than 30 amino acid differences compared with the BA.2 subvariant it evolved from. It also has significant deviation from the XBB.1.5 subvariant, which has been the dominant variant throughout much of 2023 and is the target of the new booster that’s on track to be released in late September.

Will the new booster be as effective against BA.2.86 as it is against XBB.1.5 and other currently circulating variants? No one knows the answer to this yet, but the number of mutations and where they are located are prompting urgent laboratory studies


For now, though, most Americans do not need to change their daily lives. This is not the moment to bring back government-mandated mask requirements and other broad public health restrictions. Those measures should be reserved for a true emergency, which we currently do not have.

Further (CNBC): ‘The CDC said weekly new Covid hospitalizations in the U.S. jumped nearly 19% last week, a sixth straight week of increasing admissions. Newer Covid variants like the now-dominant EG.5, or “Eris,” and a handful of XBB strains have fueled the rise. All of those strains are descendants of the omicron variant.

Another heavy outbreak, or what?
‘Wait-and-see’ seems shitty slow, however. This is my first post on COVID probably in more than a year, and I really, really hope for no more, but that’s unrealistic and even unreasonable. I did a shitload three years ago during the original onslaught of the virus and continued for a goodly while — both noting happenings locally here in the Valley and nationwide. Shitty work. I hope…

Masks already, or not, yet here we are once again…

(Illustration out front: ‘This Is Why Nurses Do What They Do,’ by visual journalist Emily Thomas, and found here.)

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