CORONAVIRUS INFO PROVIDED BY DR. JIM HARRIS –1/5/2022
Our Area “G” and area doctors are seeing lots of Omicron but the hospitals are not yet filled.
From the Texas Tribune today:
”COVID-19 trends: With the omicron surge in full swing in the state, here’s the latest on what we know about COVID-19 trends.
Texas is reporting that 1 in 3 COVID-19 tests are coming back positive, a record high. The share of positive cases reported is called the positivity rate. A rate over 10% puts states in the “red zone,” according to federal guidelines. We are far past that threshold: Texas is at 34.4%.
Hospitalizations have more than doubled compared to two weeks ago. Keep in mind that hospitalizations are still far below the pandemic peak of 14,218 on Jan. 11, 2021.
Five of the state’s 22 hospital regions are reporting that more than 15% of local hospital beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients. Earlier in the pandemic, a threshold of 15% was one factor Texas Gov. Greg Abbott used to define a region as a “danger zone” that led to business closures. Abbott has taken a largely hands-off approach to the omicron variant.
At least 45 Texas hospitals reported that their ICU beds were filled to capacity last week. That is a rising number — but one that is still far below earlier pandemic peaks.
Meanwhile, many Texas K-12 schools are pushing through with plans for in-person classes despite a surge in COVID-19 cases as officials try to reassure parents and students they are prepared to open safely this week.”
[The Washington Post] Opinion | Omicron is bad. But we don’t need to resort to lockdowns. (recommended by the NYT)
”…where we are: The risk to individuals is low, while the risk to society is high. Policy solutions that demand substantial individual sacrifice will not work; instead, we need to acknowledge the public’s very real weariness and come up with practical strategies that keep society functioning…..
”Research is increasingly pointing to omicron causing less severe disease compared with previous variants. In addition, vaccination — especially with a booster — appears highly protective against hospitalization and death. The tsunami of viral transmission means that many vaccinated people will have breakthrough infections, but the vast majority will have symptoms somewhere between a mild cold and the flu….The United States has three options for dealing with this surge. First, we could reimpose lockdowns. While some European and Asian countries have chosen this path, I believe it’s a nonstarter here. Even if lockdowns could more quickly bring omicron under control, there is no political appetite or public backing for this level of collective sacrifice.
”Second, we could let omicron run its course. There’s a school of thought that omicron is so contagious it will infect nearly everyone anyway, and it’s better to get this variant and develop additional immunity. Instead of trying to stop it, we could treat omicron as we do a common cold: We don’t isolate people with colds, and getting rid of isolation and quarantine would alleviate staffing shortages and keep the economy going. However, this path of uncontrolled spread would almost assuredly push many hospitals over the edge, and patients could die because they can’t access timely care.
”There is a third path that aims to save our hospitals while also minimizing disruption. We don’t need to ask people to stay home, but we should require that they wear high-quality masks in all indoor public spaces. We don’t need to cancel gatherings, but we should mandate proof of vaccination — and boosters — for all indoor dining, gyms, movie theaters, and sporting events….The United States has three options for dealing with this surge. First, we could reimpose lockdowns. While some European and Asian countries have chosen this path, I believe it’s a nonstarter here. Even if lockdowns could more quickly bring omicron under control, there is no political appetite or public backing for this level of collective sacrifice.
There is a third path that aims to save our hospitals while also minimizing disruption. We don’t need to ask people to stay home, but we should require that they wear high-quality masks in all indoor public spaces. We don’t need to cancel gatherings, but we should mandate proof of vaccination — and boosters — for all indoor dining, gyms, movie theaters, and sporting events…
Initial results of a 4th-dose study in Israel show an expected rise in antibodies.
”…Israel is facing a surge in coronavirus cases, driven by the Omicron variant. In an effort to protect the most vulnerable parts of the population, Israel has already begun offering fourth vaccine doses to people 60 and over, to people with weakened immune systems, and to medical and nursing home workers…”
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
What’s the difference between quarantine and isolation?
- If you might have been exposed to COVID-19, you should stay home. This is called quarantine.
- Quarantine keeps someone who might have been exposed to the virus away from others.
- You should isolate if you have COVID-19, whether or not you have symptoms.
- Isolation separates people who are infected with viruse from others, even in their home.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE COVID?
1. Talk to your doctor if you have one.
2. Carefully Study this Texas website:
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS)
(J. Harris: In my opinion, our Texas website is now GREAT. If you take your time and check out the subcategories in which you have an interest, you will know t what to do if you are exposed, or get sick, want a vaccination, or want to go to the opera. The answers to most all questions will be on this site. In addition, our local Health Dept. can be reached at 903 938-8338.)
Quarantine and Isolation (In detail)
FROM THE ATLANTIC: Several articles on testing.
1. The Atlantic Daily: What Rapid Tests Miss
2. Don’t Be Surprised When You Get Omicron
3. Stop Wasting COVID Tests, People
”We don’t want our limited testing supply “tied up by people who just want to know so they can visit their friends or go to the opera…But other types of COVID screening—before and after family gatherings, for instance, or while visiting nearby vacation destinations—are optional. It might seem reckless to suggest that people undergo less surveillance; indeed, the standard expert’s take has been the opposite, that we all should screen ourselves as often as possible in order to help reduce community spread. But even with increased testing, we stand little chance of controlling Omicron this winter at the population level. And testing is, for now, a zero-sum game. Each unnecessary swab that you consume means one fewer is available for more important purposes—such as diagnosing asymptomatic infection….We should also try to allocate tests based on underlying risks. The unvaccinated are, overall, most in danger of being hospitalized and dying from the virus, so they are also, overall, the people who benefit the most from having those around them screened for infection. Social bubbles being what they are, I suspect that many people with arsenals of at-home tests spend much of their personal time around other vaccinated and relatively low-risk individuals, making the public-health benefits of their personal screening programs marginal at best.”
AND LAST BUT NOT LEASED:
NEW JOKES FROM MAYOR AUDREY KARIEL:
I had my patience tested. I’m negative.
When one door closes and another door opens, you are probably in prison.
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