This COVID update comes to us from Dr. Wes Wallace. We appreciate Dr. Wallace’s continued collaboration with Conference leadership as we continue to navigate the COVID landscape.
We are having more new cases of COVID per day than we have ever had. The currently dominant COVID variant, BA.5, is the most transmissible disease ever. It’s time to fortify your approach to preventing serious disease.
Recall that R0 (or “R-naught”) represents the number of additional persons that one infected person will, in turn, infect.
- R0 for the 1918 pandemic flu was about 2.0
- R0 for the original or “Wuhan” COVID-19 was 3.3
- R0 for the first of the Omicron version (BA.1) is 9.5
- R0 for BA.5, the current dominant version of Omicron is about 18.6. This represents an unprecedented level of transmission.
It is difficult to know exactly how many new daily cases we are seeing in Orange County. Almost everyone is doing unreported rapid home tests. However, most epidemiologists believe the actual number of new daily cases is 5 to 10 times the reported number of cases. Currently, we are at 34 reported cases per 100,000 persons (up about 12% over the last two weeks).
That means the actual number of new cases is probably around 300 per 100,000 persons per day—a number that is equal to the highest rate of infection we have seen in the pandemic.
BA.5 does appear to be less life-threatening than previous variants. However, the very large number of cases will lead to rising death numbers, primarily among seniors—even seniors who are fully boosted. Nationally and statewide, deaths are trending upward. Nationwide, there are more daily deaths from COVID than from vehicle crashes. Our time for severe illness and grief is likely coming.
It appears there is a lower percentage of folks developing long COVID with BA.5, but there is little good data.
So there you have it – a fuzzy picture of where we are. Since quality mask wearing is not onerous and the potential for preventable bad outcomes is profound, please exhort your congregants to wear a mask.
Ventilate, vaccinate, boost and test. Take care, and wear a mask in large indoor gatherings.
Dr. Wes Wallace
For additional reading and information:
- Read this post from epidemiologist Katelyn Jetelina. It is a great summary of where we are and what to do.
- Download this PowerPoint presentation (PDF) from Dr. Wes Wallace