At this point in 2020, we had hoped new vaccines would effectively battle the COVID-19 coronavirus, but we also knew a projected surge would arrive after the Christmas vacations. My report of the virus numbers on Wednesday, December 30, 2020, showed 344,345 infections and 4,984 deaths with Floyd County reaching 500 infections, 10 hospitalized, and 17 deaths.
To revisit a common cliche, that was then and this is now. Monday’s report showed an increase of 18,513 new cases in the Commonwealth with a total of 1,067,849 and 15.294 deaths. Floyd County added 16 new cases in Monday’s report, 54 total hospitalizations and 33 deaths.
Roanoke City reported 206 new cases and a death, Roanoke County had 223 additional infections with Salem adding another 88, In those two cities and their county, 31,994 have fallen ill, 719 total have been hospitalized and 546 died.
Montgomery County and the city of Radford have lost 155 residents to the virus, Carroll County and Galax report 177 deaths, Franklin County 126 and Patrick 63.
In the United States, 243,099 a day are falling ill — a 105% increase over the last two weeks.
In a repeat of this time last year, rising cases have brought cancellations and cutbacks for New Year’s Eve. Reports The New York Times:
As the Omicron variant drives infection rates to their highest levels of the pandemic in many parts of the world, major cities have scaled-down or canceled New Year’s Eve events for a second consecutive year.
Only months ago, expanding Covid vaccinations and loosening travel rules had promised a return of raucous New Year gatherings amid hopes that the pandemic might finally be waning. But the emergence of Omicron — the highly transmissible variant that is now dominant in the United States and fueling record surges in many nations — has prompted governments to reinstate travel restrictions, mask mandates and bans on large gatherings.
In the United States, where daily cases have doubled over the past two weeks, some events have been canceled, but the annual celebration in Times Square in New York will go on, with attendance capped at 15,000.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, recommended on Monday that people “stay away” from large New Year’s Eve parties, especially when it is not clear who has been vaccinated. Speaking on CNN, Dr. Fauci said, “There will be other years to do that, but not this year.”
At the same time infections are increasing at record rates, the Centers for Disease Control has cut the isolation time for those with symptoms from 10 days to five, saying new research shows the contagious period has shortened with the new variants, but added that those without full vaccine shots and a booster should wear a mask for at least 20 days.
Federal health officials on Monday shortened the recommended time Americans infected with the coronavirus should isolate from 10 days to five if they are asymptomatic — a decision they said was driven by a growing body of research about when people are most infectious.
The updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention comes as the nation is contending with a new coronavirus wave driven by the highly transmissible omicron variant, which has sent infections soaring to levels not seen since last winter and led to cancellations of thousands of holiday flights.
Airline and other industry officials have been calling on the agency to shorten recommended quarantine and isolation times. They said the slew of flight cancellations were largely driven by employees who tested positive for the virus and were isolating for 10 days. Airline officials, as well as those from other industries, have expressed concern that omicron’s transmissibility would make it impossible to keep businesses running if they followed earlier guidelines.
As part of its update, the CDC also cut the recommended quarantine time to five days for those exposed to the coronavirus who are not yet boosted. It recommended such people wear masks around others for an additional five days.
The agency said those exposed to the infection who have received booster shots do not need to quarantine, but should wear a mask for 10 days.
We have not heard of any changes involving planned New Year’s Eve celebrations or kickoff events for the new year, but we recommend all participants take precautions, use masks and have their vaccine shots, including boosters, up to date.
Have a Happy New Year, but let’s be careful out there.