Is the Covid Pandemic Really Getting Better?
Feb 23, 2022
Dan Onion, MD, MPH
Mt. Vernon/Vienna/Fayette Health Officer
Everybody seems to be ecstatically deciding it’s time to celebrate by throwing masks in the wind and quitting all other Covid precautions. There are indeed some indications that the pandemic from both the Delta and the Omicron variant that replaced it in late December and January here, is subsiding. On the other hand, the Omicron strain #2 has not yet been found in Maine but is zipping through Europe and starting to be found in the US. It is even more transmissible than the Omicron #1 strain.
However, the pandemic outcome measures are only relatively better and there is reason to fear that we could see those measures go up again in yet another surge, starting a week or two into March. The public’s fervent but perhaps premature hope, with the abandonment of precautions, the appearance of yet another, even more infectious Omicron strain, coming on fast in the US, increased transmissions during the February school vacations and basketball tournaments, and our March town meetings, could all coalesce to bring us one heck of a new surge in late March.
Granted, the recent improvements of Maine wastewater Covid loads, hospitalizations and severe disease as reflected in ICU/ventilator use, could well be permanent, but they could also still be only a transient change. I’d like to see us achieve real community immunity, with over 80% of the population fully immunized by then. We are close now, at 73.4% of all, and 77% of eligible people (i.e. age 5 and over),
If all those worries are still diminishing through the end of March, maybe further opening up will be reasonable. But the older you are, the greater the risk. Since January 2021 to today, almost half the Covid deaths are in those 70 and older. I, for one, plan to get any boosters for which I am eligible, and to stay masked with good KN95s, N95s, or doubled surgical and cloth masks when indoors with people not recently tested and negative for Covid, for several more months, no matter further pandemic easing here in Maine. Please be Covid-careful for yourself and your family!