For the past several weeks, the Omicron BA.2 variant has become the new dominant strain of Covid-19 in the U.S. However, it hasn’t caused a major surge in cases so far despite doing so in other parts of the world, such as Europe. Public health experts are hopeful that there won’t be a repeat of previous waves even though BA.2 is more transmissible than the original Omicron variant.
The Northeast, especially New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., is where most cases are currently concentrated. Concerns over the new variant spreading resulted in officials in Philadelphia to resume indoor-mask requirements. In addition, federal officials are extending mask mandates for airplanes and other mass transportation as a precaution.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the seven-day moving average for new cases has moved to slightly above 30,000 a day, up from 25,000 a day just a few weeks ago. Despite the increase, officials believe this to be an undercount due to the rise of at-home testing, shutting down testing sites, and lack of funding to cover the cost of testing for the uninsured.
While the number of cases is on the rise, hospitalizations are down. On a national level, Covid-19 hospitalizations have now reached the lowest level ever following any significant surge. Some experts believe one reason for this is that most individuals have immunity either from getting vaccinated or being exposed to the virus during the wintertime surge. This protection came at a high cost because the Omicron winter surge saw the U.S. reach more than 2,500 newly reported deaths a day, the second highest pandemic peak.
With it being springtime, many people are now venturing outdoors, which is probably helping to reduce the spread further since people aren’t spending as much time indoors around others. Experts believe that the closer we get to summer without a surge from BA.2, the less likely it’ll happen.