By: Nelson Kramer
Another wave of the coronavirus is impacting the US, leading to an official late summer outbreak. The newest three strains of the virus, E.5, FL.1.5.1, and BA.2.86, are making their way through communities, shutting down schools, and re-quarantining people throughout the country. Texas, Florida, and California are experiencing a significant growth in cases. California has seen a 40 percent increase, with a daily average of 399 confirmed cases.
The E.5 and BA.2.86 strains have proven more contagious than previous strains. However, a new vaccine should be available in the next couple of weeks. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “CDC’s current assessment is that this updated vaccine will be effective at reducing severe disease and hospitalization. At this point, there is no evidence that this variant is causing more severe illness.” Furthermore, the CDC is recommending that people with the COVID-19 vaccine get a booster vaccination every six months. The CDC noted that “[the]BA.2.86 [variant] may be more capable of causing infection in people who have previously had COVID-19 or who have received COVID-19 vaccines.” We have seen the effects of this as hospitalization rates are up sixteen percent as of seven days ago. These conclusions are in their beginning stages, and the CDC will continue to develop them as they discover more.
The official health emergency involving COVID-19 officially ended in the US on Mar. 11, 2023, but this most recent wave is shutting down schools. USA Today reported, “Three school districts in the country have canceled in-person learning this week [Aug. 25] as local officials report drastic drops in student and teacher attendance attributed to COVID-19 and other illnesses.” Two school districts in Kentucky suspended in-person learning this past week. As of last week, the Lee County School District in Florida, announced they would be having intermittent closures.
Studies have shown that Covid thrives in air-stagnant environments, targeting schools that do not have air ventilation in classrooms and shared spaces. At the height of covid The United States Environmental Protection Agency says that 20 percent of schools nationally had a poor indoor air quality reading. This can be a problem for low-income school districts that cannot afford high-quality air ventilation systems.
(Sources: Times, NYTimes, NBC, CNN, EPA, USAToday, CDC, NPR, NBCLosAngeles)