Your COVID-19 Update in 3 Minutes
What can we say about COVID-19 that hasn’t already been said? Well, something new comes out every day. If nothing else, this communication will bring you up to date on a variety of pandemic aspects. And maybe offer some hope.
First, let’s get the basics out of the way. We all know that the dominant Omicron variant is extremely contagious. It represents more than 95% of American cases. And it is infecting us at a rate we’ve never seen before.
As of this writing, the average number of new daily cases of the coronavirus is over 700,000. That’s not an unusual one-day high due to fewer people being tested over a weekend. That’s an AVERAGE taken over the previous week.
This is mindboggling. For the overall population, the sheer volume has resulted in an increase in hospitalizations. Fortunately, many of those stays are shorter than previously. But many more children have been infected and hospitalized than before.
Is ‘Deltacron’ a Real Thing?
Recently a professor at the University of Cyprus claimed he discovered a new strain of the virus. He says it’s a genetic fusion of Omicron and Delta. Dr. Leondios Kostrikis named it “Deltacron.”
Some in the medical community disputed this hybrid finding. They called it a “contamination during laboratory testing.” Dr. Jeffrey Barrett of the United Kingdom said this. “This is almost certainly not a biological recombinant of the Delta and Omicron lineages.”
Kostrikis defended his assertion. He said Deltacron rates are higher in hospitalized patients, proving his claim.
Even if Deltacron proves to be real, it is not expected to last long against the globally dominant Omicron variant. But it would show that this virus is not going away quietly.
Testing Our Patience
One of the biggest problems Americans have faced recently has been the lack of COVID-19 tests. People have been waiting in lines – standing on sidewalks or sitting in cars – for hours to get tested.
Private health insurers are now required to cover the cost of eight home tests per month for each member. Kits containing two tests each usually retail for about $25.
In most cases, individuals need to pay for the test and then get reimbursed by their insurance carrier. On January 19, a new website (covidtests.gov) was launched. Anyone wishing to order four free tests delivered to their homes can do so.
How reliable are home tests? About 85%, if you have symptoms. They are more likely to provide a false negative if you’re infected but don’t have symptoms yet. False positives are more likely in areas where there is not much transmission.
A Masking Cover-up?
Now, about facemasks. When COVID-19 first made its presence felt in the U.S., we were told N-95 masks were the best. They are more effective at preventing the virus spread than other masks. This made perfect sense to most people.
But once it was determined that a run on N-95 masks by the public would leave healthcare workers short of them, that instruction was amended. Any mask will do, we were told.
Now that the production of N-95 masks has exploded, once again we’re informed they are the most effective. And that cloth masks don’t provide much protection.
Well before the pandemic arrived, everyone knew N-95 masks were superior to other types. So really, we’ve come full circle on this.
Judging Vaccine Mandates
The Biden Administration has been pushing vaccine mandates for healthcare workers. Or negative tests. As well as for workers at private companies with 100-plus employees.
On January 13, only a partial victory was earned in this battle. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed healthcare workers should be vaccinated. Or provide negative test results. At least at the facilities that take Medicare of Medicaid payments.
But it refused to mandate vaccines for workers at larger businesses. The Court’s opinion read this way. Congress has not given the Occupational Safety and Health Administration “the power to regulate public health more broadly” than its power to regulate general occupational dangers.
As I’ve stated numerous times, the decision on whether to be vaccinated is a personal one. We don’t suggest getting or not getting a vaccine.
This is a highly controversial topic. That fact was clearly demonstrated recently when 45th President Donald Trump was interviewed by Bill O’Reilly. Both were booed after saying they were vaccinated and boosted.
Light at the End of the Tunnel
Medical experts say the number of new daily cases will eventually fall. Probably sooner than later. And some believe that because Omicron has proven weaker than Delta, it means the end could be in sight.
Others believe there may never be an end to this coronavirus. But it will settle into a seasonal illness, much like the flu.
A variant such as Omicron – more contagious but less virulent – is what some in the medical community have been waiting for. They believe it’s a sign the worst is almost over.
Here’s what New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet told the Sydney Morning Herald. “The measure of success is not case numbers. (It’s) keeping people out of the hospital… opening up the economy to keep people in work and keep businesses open.”
We pray for the day when this pandemic ends. In the meantime, please do what you feel is right to keep yourself and others safe.