In February 2021, Dr Craig Spencer wrote in a Medium post that he was as “keen as anybody to see the tip of this pandemic. Fortunately, which may be in sight”.
“Covid instances and hospitalizations are dropping,” wrote Spencer, director of World Well being in Emergency Medication at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia College Medical Heart. “Vaccines are entering into arms. So, what occurs subsequent?”
Subsequent was, after all, extra Covid-19.
So – virtually a yr later – whereas Spencer is inspired by the truth that the expansion within the variety of new Covid instances has slowed in components of the nation, he has been humbled by earlier waves and isn’t able to rejoice the start of the tip of the pandemic.
“It’s not such as you get to the highest of Everest, have a small celebration after which begin your ascent down and take off your oxygen masks,” Spencer mentioned. “There’s nonetheless danger while you begin your descent, and I believe it’s necessary for all of us to proceed to be cautious and conscious of that.”
Whereas america has during the last month damaged information for Covid hospitalizations and instances because of the extremely contagious Omicron variant, the Northeast has seen a lower within the variety of each day new Covid instances or a slowing down of the speed of improve, prompting predictions that the worst of the pandemic will quickly be over.
However infectious illness specialists say that’s untimely due to how unpredictable the virus has been and the truth that it’s nonetheless surging and overwhelming hospitals in components of the nation.
“Sure, notably in locations like New York Metropolis, Omicron is peaking, however I believe we’ve got to be very cautious to not confuse peaking with a low,” mentioned Dr Celine Gounder, an infectious illness specialist and epidemiologist at New York College. “Meaning people who find themselves going out and about, residing their regular lives must be cautious to nonetheless make use of mitigation measures like carrying higher-quality masks and doing as a lot outside as potential.”
Within the Northeast, the variety of each day new instances has began to say no within the final week, based on data from the New York Instances, however different locations proceed to expertise a spike in instances. For instance, 10 states noticed a greater than 300% improve in instances during the last two weeks.
Throughout america, there was a 133% improve in instances and a 79% improve in Covid hospitalizations over that interval.
“I believe it’s very potential that we could also be at a peak, and definitely that may be according to a number of modeling outcomes when it comes to timing, which projected peaks in mid to late January, however on the identical till we see a couple of extra days of constant downward traits and begin to see that mirrored in hospitalizations as nicely, I might be cautious,” mentioned Justin Lessler, an epidemiology professor on the College of North Carolina.
Regardless of the slowing down of the surge, when Spencer labored a shift earlier this week within the emergency room at Columbia in New York, “it was simply as chaotic for me because it was for my colleagues across the metropolis”, he mentioned.
That’s as a result of the emergency room was crammed with sufferers who have been very sick with Covid along with folks coming for coronary heart assaults, appendicitis or different illnesses, as in comparison with the beginning of the pandemic when virtually all of the sufferers in emergency rooms have been there due to Covid, Spencer mentioned.
There’s additionally a major variety of suppliers who’re unable to work as a result of they examined optimistic for Covid.
“Emergency rooms have at all times been adaptable, however the difficulty we’re coping with now isn’t just extra sufferers and extra Covid but additionally fewer suppliers and fewer locations to place [patients],” mentioned Spencer.
In Oklahoma, a 363% improve over the previous two weeks has overwhelmed hospitals. Three hospital programs reported that they’d no intensive care unit beds out there, according to KFOR-TV.
At OU Well being in Oklahoma Metropolis, the spike in Covid instances poses a problem for suppliers treating sufferers with the virus but additionally for non-Covid sufferers as a result of the hospital should take further measures to guard them from the virus, mentioned Dr Dale Bratzler, the hospital’s chief Covid officer.
There are additionally 250 workers members who’re unable to work as a result of they’re isolating because of the virus, he mentioned.
Whereas Bratzler hopes that the state might attain its Omicron peak within the subsequent week, he’s involved that the decline could possibly be slower than in different states as a result of solely 54% of the inhabitants is absolutely vaccinated, whereas in New York the quantity is 73%.
“I’m rather more nervous that we are going to have a considerable improve in hospitalizations over the subsequent few weeks. We’re already stretched in our programs, and since unvaccinated persons are driving hospitalizations, I’m very nervous about that,” mentioned Bratzler.
Nonetheless, Aaron Wendelboe, an OU epidemiologist, mentioned that he’s “a bit inspired by what is going on in different states”.
However like different epidemiologists, Wendelboe mentioned he isn’t able to declare that we received’t see one other surge like Omicron as a result of the virus continues to mutate.
“I really feel like I’m a slower learner,” he mentioned, “as a result of I might not have predicted this large of a surge so rapidly however Covid continues to shock us.”