Big Screaming Headlines

High-profile Covid-19 cases were widely reported in the media a few weeks ago. Attorney General Merrick Garland, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, several members of Congress (such as Joaquin Castro, Susan Collins, Adam Schiff, and Raphael Warnock), New York Mayor Eric Adams, and other Broadway stars were on the list (like Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, and Daniel Craig).

They were not quite young when they became sick with the disease. 69-year-olds Collins and Garland As of this writing, Pelosi’s age is 82.

However, thus far, none of their instances appear to be particularly serious. David Weigel, a reporter for the Washington Post, noted this week:

These stories are a part of a recurring phenomenon. Hospitalizations have remained stable in a number of areas where the number of patients has increased recently. Hospitalizations, on the other hand, began to rise a week after cases began to rise in previous Covid waves.

Chicago and Seattle are also showing similar trends.

How did this happen? The solution isn’t quite clear, but that’s not uncommon with Covid. Many experts, however, feel that at least some of this is due to the fact that the epidemic is evolving. As a result of these three factors, the proportion of instances that develop into serious illnesses appears to be decreasing.

American citizens aged 12 or older have access to vaccines and booster doses, which have proven to be beneficial. (Among children, Covid is still overwhelmingly mild.)

Immunosuppressive drugs like Evusheld and Paxlovid are becoming more widely available for those at risk of infection.

The virus has already infected tens of millions of Americans, giving them some kind of immunity.

To be clear, these trends are not going to eradicate severe Covid altogether. Hospitalizations across the country are likely to climb in the coming weeks, particularly if the number of cases continues to rise. In the last two weeks, the official case count has grown by 43 percent, and hospitalizations have surged in a few states, including Vermont. However, hospitalizations in the United States have not yet increased, most likely due to the same three factors I mentioned earlier.

Dr. Craig Spencer, director of global health in emergency medicine at Columbia University, says that even if hospitalizations do climb in the coming weeks, a decreasing percentage of coronavirus cases that result in serious illness would be welcome news.

“Despite a swirl of Covid in the community, I haven’t seen a Covid patient in the E.R. in weeks,” Spencer told me, “and I go to work now expecting not to see one.”

Hospitals would be less likely to be overrun during future Covid surges if cases and severe disease were separated. Another aspect in reducing poor health outcomes is the ability of hospitals to give care to all patients who need it.


In the future, this bulletin will focus less on coronavirus cases and more on the number of hospitalizations that result from them. As Spencer put it, “looking at the data in the same way we’ve been accustomed to over the past two years can be misleading.

We’re not going to ignore the case numbers totally, because they’re still relevant. As a result, the data on instances has grown less reliable and less relevant.

Because of the recent closure of numerous testing centres and the migration to at-home testing, it is less dependable than it used to be. No errors have been found in the reporting of Covid hospitalizations or deaths, which is consistent with past statistics.

Data on Covid instances is no longer useful because vaccines are now widely available to U.S. adults, and vaccines tend to transform Covid into a flu-like sickness in the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. Paxlovid, a more modern therapy, also has a role.

As an example, the daily Covid death rate for enhanced elderly persons has recently hovered around two per million in the county that encompasses Seattle (which preserves thorough data). In a moderate flu season, this is greater than the national death toll, while in a strong flu season, this is lower than the toll.

Severe influenza-like symptoms can be expected in patients who have been vaccinated against Covid. When a member of Congress or a Broadway performer has the flu, you won’t hear anything about it.

I can see why people in this country still think of Covid as a major issue. For starters, because of the enormous number of unvaccinated individuals, Covid is still responsible for the deaths of over 500 Americans per day. One other thing: we can’t just go back to our 2019 routines now that Covid has been dominating our lives for almost two years.

The 2020 version of Covid would not be logically equivalent to the Covid of 2022. It’s not true. Vaccines, therapies, and even natural immunity have reduced the severity of the virus’s effects, particularly on Americans who have taken steps to safeguard themselves.