It’s been a tough two months on the Covid front, but things are clearly getting much better. The number of new cases per day in Chester County (as reported in the New York Times) peaked at over 1,000 on several days in the first half of January. By contrast, the number of new cases over the last three days (January 29, 30, and 31) are just 224, 196, and 105 respectively. Those are levels we haven’t seen since before Thanksgiving.
We are finally back below the case level of the pre-vaccine peak of December 2020. Now, of course, the cases are much milder, and many are asymptomatic (at least if you have been vaccinated and boosted).
The graph below (from The New York Times) shows the recent improvement in Chester County. The entire region is improving. and nearby counties show similar trends.
The totals for the state of Pennsylvania are also improving rapidly. Most counties are showing improvement, although rates are still rising in a few rural counties.
The County’s most recent test positivity rate (covering the week of January 21-27) is still high (21.76%), but it had been hovering around 30% for the past few weeks, so it too is improving. (And it can be argued that test positivity is no longer as useful an indicator as it was early in the pandemic.)
At covidestim.org, the “reproduction number” (Rt) for Chester County is down to 0.55. That means that each person catching Covid will infect only 0.55 more people, and that indicates that case numbers will continue to drop. Neighboring counties have similar (or even better) Rt numbers.
There is a new variant of omicron, known as BA.2, that is spreading fast. But initial results from Denmark (where it has already become the dominant strain) indicate that it is roughly equivalent to the current omicron strain in terms of the illness it causes and the protection provided by vaccines. It does, however, spread even faster than omicron. That means it will probably become the dominant Covid strain here, but it will not result in much change. It may, perhaps, slow the current rate of recovery a bit.
It’s still wise to be cautious, in my opinion. You’ll have to draw your own conclusions about what precautions you still want to take. But things have obviously improved greatly, and the vaccines have eliminated most of the really serious cases in the population who got the shots (especially if they got the booster too). It’s true that we still have infection rates that are an order of magnitude higher than last summer’s low, but the trend is good. So I’m generally optimistic about the near future.