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Virus Expert Just Issued "Worried" Warning

Here's how to stay safe.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

New cases of COVID are up 50% nationwide, driven by the BA.2 subvariant and, increasingly the even more contagious BA.12.2.1 strain. Certain aspects of how this surge is unfolding worry Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator. After warning that the U.S. could see 100 million infections this fall and winter, he explained the reasons for his concern in a Twitter thread on Sunday. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Surge In Northeast Not In Deaths, Hospitalizations

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First, Jha pointed out that cases in the Northeast—New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island—are up three to four times from previous lows. They began rising on March 20. About three weeks after a surge begins, deaths increase. Has that happened? "Not so much," he tweeted. "Deaths are up a bit, and about 6 weeks after cases began rising. Not what you would have expected. Now, hospitalizations are up some in these states, but again, not as much as one would have expected."

2

This is What "Worries" Him

Doctor holding syringe, medical injection in hand with glove.
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Jha attributed that good news—the fatality rate is much lower than earlier in the pandemic—to the surge taking hold in the Northeast, which has high rates of booster shots and testing. 

But that's not necessarily good news for the rest of the country. "Unfortunately, other parts of our nation have lower booster rates and less testing," said Jha. "So the virus can spread more easily without detection. And the population is less well protected. Which worries me for the weeks/months ahead as BA.2.12.1 spreads to other, less boosted places."

3

More Congressional Funding Needed

Moderna and Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine
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"And it worries me for the fall/winter," tweeted Jha. "Because if we do see a wave of infections, we'll want to be able to protect people. Like with the next generation of vaccines that are likely coming. And treatments. And tests. None of which will be available unless Congress steps up now." The Biden administration has requested $22.5 million in funding to fight COVID, but the proposal has stalled in Congress. NBC News reported Monday that the federal government needs to make contracts with Pfizer and Moderna soon on new versions of vaccines they're making for the fall in order to have enough for all Americans.

4

"The Bottom Line"

Doctor show rapid laboratory COVID-19 test for diagnosis new Corona virus infection
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"So the bottom line is this," Jha tweeted. "We're at a point in the pandemic where we know how to manage the virus. To keep infections low. To prevent serious illness. And to protect the most vulnerable. And that's our focus right now. Keep getting people and communities the tools they need. Tests, vaccines, Evusheld, masks, treatments, and more. And ensure we have the resources to continue this work moving forward. And manage the pandemic in a way that protects lives and livelihoods."

5

"How to Stay Safe Out There"

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Follow the fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more about Michael