Where we stand on COVID-19 heading into summer
We are headed into our third pandemic summer as subvariants of Omicron dominate our region and vaccines for our youngest Washingtonians are almost here.
By the numbers: D.C. has seen a decline in its weekly case rate since mid-May. The usual caveat applies: These numbers reflect confirmed positive tests only. In D.C., a new surge of cases peaked at 340 weekly cases per 100,000 residents in the week ending May 21. As of the week ending June 4, the District remains at medium community levels, but the weekly case rate has dropped to 232 cases.
- This puts us close to where we were at the end of January as the initial Omicron surge subsided.
- New hospitalizations have remained low since the initial Omicron wave decreased at the end of February.
Why it matters: COVID isn’t over but we also have more tools to fight it. And yet, weighing your personal risk can be confusing.
- “There is a discrepancy between the public, overall risk, and individual risk levels,” says David Dowdy, an epidemiologist with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
- Some people with young, unvaccinated children or those who are immunocompromised are still living more cautiously than others.
And even individual actions impact others when it comes to COVID-19, one public health expert reminds people.
- “There is no individual risk unless I have the luxury of totally separating myself from others,” says Neil Sehgal, an assistant health policy professor at the University of Maryland.
Go deeper: Your common COVID-19 questions, answered.
What they’re saying: Much of the same advice remains. Becoming infected with COVID is not like having a cold, Dowdy says: It will still knock you out for a few days.
Yes, but: Cases are becoming milder overall, Dowdy adds, thanks to vaccines and Omicron itself being milder, lending to less severe infection and lower risk of hospitalization and death.
When it comes to long COVID, our current case rates are higher than they were in 2020, which means more of the population may develop long COVID or persistent symptoms after the initial infection, Dowdy says.
- In D.C., up to 6% of the population could have long COVID.
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