There could be a Covid Christmas again this year – Deadline

An estimated 55 million Americans will travel over the Thanksgiving holiday. That’s the highest level since the pandemic began and the third highest since AAA began tracking the holiday in 2000.

Meanwhile, Covid cases have been steadily rising nationally, with the latest 24-hour tally at 111,386, according to John’s Hopkins. It is the highest number of new infections in one day since August 12. Given the increase in take-home tests, the real number is likely much higher, experts say. The numbers are also much higher in certain areas of the country.

Overall, the seven-day average number of new cases nationwide has risen 7% over the past two weeks, according to the New York Times. The positivity in the tests increases by 5% in the same period and is 8.6%. But there are hot infections that aim much higher.

The 14-day average number of cases in Michigan is up 104%, according to the Times, while the positive test rate is 11%. Arizona’s average daily case count has jumped 82% over the past two weeks. The positivity of the test sits at a staggering 24%. Hospital admissions in the state increased by 53% during the same period. For perspective, aside from the early days of the pandemic, Arizona’s current positivity rate is higher than it’s ever been in hard-hit California.

Covid Community Score (CDC)

Speaking of which, the daily average number of new cases in the Golden State over two weeks is up 48%, while the average positive test rate is 6%, according to the Times. California’s largest metropolis, which accounts for a quarter of the state’s population, is seeing more growth.

On Wednesday, Los Angeles County health officials reported 3,077 new Covid cases. It is the highest one-day figure since mid-August during the summer wave. The seven-day average daily rate of LA people testing positive for the virus has also continued to rise, reaching 9.4% as of Wednesday. That’s up from 6.5% a week ago, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. The county now has an average of 1,971 new COVID infections per day over the past week, a 39% increase from the previous week.

The number of county residents hospitalized for Covid surpassed 800 today, rising to 822 according to the latest state figures. That’s up from 666 a week ago, a 23% increase in seven days.

Those trends do not bode well for the December holidays.

Hospital admissions are the data point of greatest concern to health officials, because when clinics become overloaded, mortality rates increase. While the increase in hospitalizations usually lags a jump in cases by about two weeks, Los Angeles’s Covid-related hospitalizations have already seen a significant increase. As the number of cases continues to rise, hospitalizations are likely to follow well into December.

There are other complicating factors as well.

The continued spread of flu and respiratory virus — or RSV — in the county is combining with Covid to present a triple threat of respiratory disease that is likely to further stress health facilities.

Then there are the holiday gatherings and the trips, which for the most part become more “normal” — ie. unmasked — this year. Coupled with the rapid proliferation of the BQ1 and BQ1.1 variants, which in a matter of weeks have ousted the long-dominant BA.5 and now account for more than half of new cases in the region, infections may continue to increase for some time.

Variable rates in CA, AZ, NV (CDC)

One last wildcard is China.

“China reported a record number of COVID-19 infections on Thursday, as cities across the country imposed local lockdowns, mass testing and other restrictions,” Reuters reported.

Most of the country has been affected by China’s so-called zero-Covid policy. Whenever it decides to open up, there will be a large number of people who have never been infected who will be exposed to whatever newly prevalent variant has emerged. That in turn could lead to a wave of infections in the Middle Kingdom and possibly new strains caused by such a large number of

City News Service contributed to this report.

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