COVID is Back With a Vengeance


Sara Harris, Editor-in-Chief, Junior

While many regard coronavirus (COVID) as a pandemic of the past, recent numbers suggest that the relative stability seen this fall could be coming to an end. Cases, hospitalizations, and test positivity rates are all rising at a national level.
Around Thanksgiving, daily case and death data are subject to fluctuations that do not impact other variables. Consequently, it is particularly alarming to observe a substantial increase in hospitalizations and test positivity, as current data holds greater credibility. Likewise, higher test positivity rates indicate that many infections are not being reported. As a result, case numbers are severely underestimated and unappreciated by the public.
According to the New York Times, the past 14 days have yielded a national 28% rise in cases while New York State was reported to have witnessed a 49% increase, nearly double the national average. Recent reports from the CDC claim the community level of COVID in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island is “high”, and the level in Manhattan is “medium”, based on cases and hospitalizations.
As with last winter, many scientists predict the emergence of a new “COVID-wave.” Tom Wenseleers, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Leuven in Belgium, maintains similar viewpoints.
“I’m fairly confident that at least one of these variants or a combination of them will lead to a new infection wave,” said Wenseleers, in a Nature article published two months ago.
The Omicron subvariants that drove past waves, BA.2, BA.4, and BA.5, are receding; however, their descendants are mutating and evading previous preventative measures.
Researchers are especially noting certain sub-lineages. In the United Kingdom, BQ.1 is seeing a swift ascent. Likewise, in India, offspring of BA.2.75 variant that spurred an outbreak months ago are now outcompeting all others, said microbiologist Rajesh Karyakarte, who runs SARS-CoV-2 genetic sequencing in the state of Maharashtra.
Globally, a surge of COVID has ensued, as this pandemic has yet to cease.