by Vrittee Sobti ‘25
Published Mar. 3rd, 2022
COVID-19 has plagued the world for the last two years, shutting down schools and offices and impacting the health of millions. With the recent Omicron strain, the virus has continued to spread at increasingly rapid rates across the globe.
Though only introduced to the US about two months ago, Dr. David Wohl, a UNC Health infectious disease specialist, stated that “the rate at which Omicron has taken over Delta is remarkable and shows how much more transmissible this variant is.”
The United States is still reporting 700,000 new cases a day as of mid-February – a drop from 807,000 cases per day in the few weeks prior. With the number of cases and hospitalizations leveling off, it seems as if Omicron has approached a peak.
In cities like Newark, Cleveland, and Washington D.C, the spread of the virus has slowed, but the New York Times reports that the “Western and Southern states [have been] reporting 400 percent increases [in virus growth] over the past two weeks.” With varying rates of infection around the country, it’s challenging to estimate where the future of the virus will take us.
Looking at Omicron’s curve in other countries doesn’t tell us much, either. In South Africa, Omicron’s case count dropped by about one third in a month, allowing travel bans and curfews to be lifted, while other “countries like Denmark and Germany look more like a ‘jagged sawtooth’ . . . You get a couple [of] days where it goes down, goes back up and goes back down,” explains Dr. Christina Ramirez, a biostatistician at UCLA.
All in all, nearly two dozen states, plus two territories and Washington D.C., are past the peak of omicron. Dr. Fauci, White House chief medical adviser, stated that “as we get into February … it is very likely that most of the states in the country will have turned around with their peak and are starting to come down with regard to cases and then obviously hospitalizations.”
However, none of this means that we are anywhere close to being done with COVID-19. Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, the director of the Ohio Department of Health, warned that “‘if we’ve learned one thing about [COVID], it’s that it is extraordinarily unpredictable. And things can change dramatically and quickly.’”