As COVID-19 surges, health officials urge people to wear masks again

Published: Jul. 10, 2022 at 9:36 AM CDT
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(CNN) - With COVID-19 cases going up, you might want to think about masking up.

Across the country, more than 100,000 new cases have been reported every day over the past two weeks, but experts say that number could actually be higher.

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows about one-third of the U.S. population is now living in a county with a “high COVID-19 community level,” which means the agency recommends universal indoor masking.

Counties coast to coast are on the list, including New York City which was a 2020 pandemic hotspot.

“Our goal is to make sure that whatever we put in place is going to stem the infections, keep down on hospitalizations and most importantly, keep down those who die from COVID,” New York Mayor Eric Adams said.

John Hopkins University reports new COVID-19 cases rising slowly, which 108,000 new cases reported every day over the past two weeks. That is up 6% from the two weeks prior.

The spread of COVID-19 is causing concern in Los Angeles County, California, too.

“It is looking more likely as cases and admissions have continued to increase that will enter the high community-level designation later this month,” Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferre said.

Health experts warn data on the rise in COVID-19 cases may not tell the full story due to the widespread use of at-home test kits.

“On the honor system, if you test positive you don’t show up, so that’s not showing up in the data. There’s certainly more out there,” Committee to Protect Health Care Executive Director Dr. Rob Davidson said.

A recent pre-print study based on health records from the Veteran’s Administration shows that catching COVID-19 over and over again appears to increase the chances a person will experience new and sometimes lasting health problems after their infection.

People who had two or more documented infections had more than twice the risk of dying and three times the risk of being hospitalized within six months of their last infection.

On the vaccine front, the White House said Thursday that only about 2% of children under the age of 5 have received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Food and Drug administration gave emergency-use authorization on June 17 for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for that age group.

The two omicron subvariants the CDC cites as the cause of the recent surge may partially escape the immunity produced by COVID-19 vaccines and prior infections, but experts say the current vaccines and boosters provide substantial protection against severe disease.

The World Health Organization says there has not been a rise in intensive care unit admissions in vulnerable groups who have been vaccinated and boosted.

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