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Why experts say COVID threat looms with winter

Posted at 2:53 PM, Nov 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-12 17:32:16-05

(WXYZ) — There are several factors that could set off another COVID spike. First of all, the colder it gets, the more time people spend indoors. Also, two huge holidays are coming up – Thanksgiving and Christmas. That means families and friends will be gathering together. And the more folks gather together, the more opportunity for the virus to spread - especially in rooms with poor ventilation.

Now, let’s look at US case numbers. Nationally, case numbers were dropping but then the decline stalled. Right now, the 7-day average for the US is just over 74,000 cases a day. That’s pretty high. Plus, there’s been a 17% increase of new COVID cases since mid-October. That’s because several states have seen increases in numbers. Michigan’s case numbers have been steadily increasing and our 7-day average currently sits around 4500 cases. Vermont and Maine are also seeing cases numbers rising - with Vermont seeing a 50% increase in the last 14 days.

So when you combine all of these things together—
cold weather and more time spent indoors, holidays with people gathering, a highly contagious variant and cases numbers rising—in my opinion,this is a recipe for disaster.

It’s surprising to see COVID cases surging in Vermont as that state has a high vaccination rate.  Overall, the Northeast states have high vaccination rates. And Vermont in particular has 72% of its population vaccinated. So, why then are we seeing cases surge? Well, waning immunity is likely contributing - especially with folks who have underlying health conditions.

On the plus side, a recent report found that vaccines still matter. Americans who had not been fully vaccinated reported infections rates that were 3.7 times higher than fully vaccinated people. And, 67% of hospitalizations in the last seven days were for people who had not been vaccinated.

Another huge contributing factor is that 40% of the US population is still not fully vaccinated. This means there are pockets of areas all across the US where the virus has plenty of opportunities to spread. And this is not good because already, hospitalizations are on the rise. Another 2,000 people were admitted last week, so now our national total of patients hospitalized is 47,000.

So, I’ll stress once again, if you can get vaccinated, please do. And if you’re eligible to get the booster, I recommend you get it as well. Vaccines are our best tool against surging case numbers and will go a long way in keeping our families and community safe.