After more than three years of dealing with this seemingly never-ending pandemic that has now claimed nearly 1.2 million lives here in the US alone (and at least 7 million worldwide, though the true toll may turn out to be in the 10-15 million range), it looked like we had finally put Covid-19 in our rear-view mirror once and for all by this summer, with new hospitalizations falling well below 10,000 per week, according to the CDC Data Tracker. Indeed, following the most recent peak at the beginning of 2023, we had nearly 6 straight months of uninterrupted declines in both new hospitalizations and the weekly death toll.
Unfortunately, starting in the Southeast (especially Florida) in the early summer hospitalizations started climbing again, with a nearly 4-fold increase by their peak in early September, and a corresponding 2.5-fold increase in the weekly death toll. And while this particular surge burned out fairly quickly in the Southeast, new hospitalizations and deaths never returned to their pre-surge levels, and by then it had already spread to most of the rest of the country.
Still, at least through early November it didn’t look like things were getting any worse. But in the past month a new surge centered in the Great Lakes states (CDC Region 5) has really started to take off, with new hospitalizations now twice what they were a month before, and a whopping 7.5 times from their nadir six months ago. While no one is predicting this latest surge will be in any way comparable to the Omicron spike that was just starting up two years ago, it could easily equal or exceed what we saw last winter. So if anyone has been putting off getting the latest booster thinking it’s not something we still have to worry about, think again, particularly if you’re planning to get together with family/friends over the coming holidays.