COVID-19 highlights for the week of 12/6/21:
- Hospitalizations are our most accurate and timely indicator of COVID-19 and are currently showing an alarming upward trend.
- The Omicron Variant has been identified as a Variant of Concern by the CDC. A St. Louis resident is Missouri’s first case of the omicron variant (NPR). Much is still unknown about the new variant and Delta remains the driving factor for hospitalization increases in the region.
- The holiday season will continue to impact testing and reporting, and therefore case trends should be interpreted with a high amount of caution.
- New cases of COVID-19 continue to be a majority people who have not been vaccinated. Cases are often less severe among vaccinated individuals who do become infected.
- All communities within our region remained at a high level of transmission as defined by the CDC (see below). Note that in both the states of KS and MO all counties (except Riley in KS) are reported by the CDC as having “High” levels of community transmission.
What Can I Expect?
- High overall hospital volume may lead to longer wait times for emergency services and a decreased availability of local hospital beds.
- Challenges in the hospital system are expected to continue to worsen due to the compounding effects of:
- The ongoing holiday season leading to more gatherings, crowds and travel
- Relaxed masking requirements in certain jurisdictions
- Low vaccination rates
- Influenza, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), and other Influenza Like Illnesses (ILI)
Given our experience from last year, challenges could continue well into 2022.
- Continued reporting irregularities due to the ongoing holiday season.
What Can I Do?
- Seek Appropriate Care: Use your Primary Care Physician or an Urgent Care Facility as an alternative to Emergency Rooms when appropriate. Do not use ERs for asymptomatic COVID-19 testing. Visit PrepareMetroKC to see testing locations near you.
- Minimize Risk: As community prevalence of COVID-19 continues to climb, it may be time to re-evaluate your activities, particularly in advance of being in close quarters with more vulnerable loved ones during holiday gatherings.
- Use Proven Best Practices: See CDC’s “Safer Ways to Celebrate Holidays” on other ways to mitigate risk and stay safe.
- Mask Up: CDC guidance recommends that everyone in communities with high or substantial levels of community transmission wear a mask in public indoor settings (CDC). You can check the transmission status of your community or those you intend to visit on the CDC Covid Data Tracker.
- Get tested: If you have travel plans for the holidays, make sure to include a COVID-19 test prior to travel as part of those plans and added caution upon return, including monitoring for symptoms and testing if symptoms arise. Get tested after potential exposures and before gathering with vulnerable loved ones.
- Get vaccinated: Check with your primary care physician or pediatrician’s office on where to find a vaccine near you. You may also visit vaccines.gov; text your ZIP code to 438829 (GETVAX); or call 1-800-232-0233; or visit Prepare Metro KC (preparemetrokc.org). An individual initiating vaccination on December 6th would be fully protected by:
- January 10th at the earliest (two weeks after second dose) for Pfizer
- January 17th at the earliest (two weeks after second dose) for Moderna
- December 20th at the earliest (two weeks after single dose) for J&J
- Follow Guidance: Continue to follow your local public health guidance regarding isolation and quarantine.