President Joe Biden’s Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary Xavier Bacerra raised the warning flag Monday on a resurgence of COVID-19. Pointing to the fall and winter, Bacerra told a reporter that either the familiar or new variants may make a comeback.
Just when it seemed that masks went the way of the dinosaur and Biden’s approval rating, the White House said “not so fast!”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report there are two new subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5, that are responsible for 70% of new coronavirus cases nationally. Experts say vaccination still protects against serious illness, but these newcomers may get around them anyway.
The number of reported cases, as Americans became well aware of, is likely dwarfed by the actual number of infections — some say by five to 10 times. Still, hospitals are not generally reported to be overwhelmed as in other coronavirus surges.
Some health officials continue to urge wearing of an N95 mask or equivalent in crowded and confined spaces.
In reports harkening back to 2020 and 2021, several areas of the U.S. now see a resurgence in cases. New York City registers a 15% positivity rate according to the latest health data, and there are 3,500 new infections confirmed daily on average.
On the other coast, multiple counties in the San Francisco area are on the CDC’s “red level” for transmissions. Though this means the agency recommends masks for indoor spaces and public transit, officials so far have not announced new restrictions.
It’s different further south, where Los Angeles County Health Director Barbara Ferrer already confirmed she will reinstate the mask mandate if the county’s rate reaches the CDC’s high level again.
A political event this week will be markedly different due to the recent surges in both the United States and Israel. When Biden reaches Jerusalem to start his Mideast trip, the numerous politicians and dignitaries who would normally shake the president’s hand will be disappointed.
The White House told the Israeli government that the 79-year-old president will not exchange handshakes when he arrives at Ben-Gurion Airport.
This is not news that anyone wants to hear, and with any luck overzealous politicians will resist getting trigger-happy. Some seemed to revel in imposing restrictions when all reason said not to, and there’s no doubt that many are ready to go back to the future.