New England has one of the highest rates of vaccination in the US. Yet, in recent weeks, local businesses in Connecticut and Massachusetts have been asking customers to mask up once again - in restaurants, bars and gyms - as the number of breakthrough infections rises and Dr. Anthony Fauci turns the variant fearmongering up to 11.
Here are a few data visualizations showing how the northeast is perhaps the most heavily vaccinated region in the entire US.
While the mainstream media has mostly focused on reports about crowded ICUs and daily infection rates, the data show far is consistent with forecasts from Dr. Scott Gottlieb and others who expect the present delta-driven wave to peak in the US in early September.
Now, more data has arrived to suggest the delta variant has likely already peaked across the northeast, even as hospitalizations may continue to climb. in the near term. And before Fauci-worshippers question the souce, the projections, shared here by Bloomberg, were developed and released by the CDC.
Parts of the U.S. Northeast may be near the peak of the latest Covid-19 wave, though there are still key areas of concern. Hospitalizations and deaths are likely to mount in the weeks to come.
Cases in Connecticut and Massachusetts have probably topped out, according to the consensus of forecasts published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet New York and New Jersey still are expected to see infection rates increase.
Since around mid-July, the Northeast has been feeling the effects of the U.S. Covid-19 wave that started in Arkansas and Missouri and fueled record hospitalizations in Florida. Daily hospital admissions are now on the rise in every state in the Northeast, according to Department of Health and Human Services data.
"There are continued increases, but not to the level that we’ve seen in previous surges here in the Northeast," Dr. Roy Gulick, chief of infectious diseases at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian hospital, said by telephone. "I’m seeing some modeling to suggest that peak won’t occur until late September, early October -- but of course we don’t know for sure."
Even in NYC, the city now requiring IDs and proof of vaccination for patrons to visit restaurants and gyms (yet New Yorkers still don't need an ID to vote), the worst of delta is probably already in the rearview mirror, and the prevailing "r" rate - the rate of spread represented by the number of people infected, on average, by a single case - suggests the city and all of New York State likely won't ever see levels of prevalence anywhere near states like Florida.
The rates of infection are still far below those seen in early Delta-variant hot spots, and leading indicators suggest the region is likely to crest without getting anywhere near Florida-like levels of viral prevalence. Nationwide cases are still projected to rise for several weeks.
In New York City, the original epicenter of the U.S. pandemic, the effective reproduction number, or Rt -- an estimate of how many new infections come from a single Covid carrier -- suggests sustainable declines in case numbers may be on the horizon. Manhattan’s Rt is estimated to have fallen to 1.0, and when it falls below that level cases are expected to decrease in the near future. Rt is somewhat higher in the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn, according to covidestim, a project with contributors from Yale School of Public Health, Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Stanford Medicine.
One scientist said that opening schools without vaccinating kids could exacerbate spread (despite multiple studies showing schools aren't locuses of COVID spread), though he acknowledged that he couldn't predict the course of the virus.
"Multiple factors challenge our ability to predict what’s going to happen next," said Gulick, including the range of vaccination rates, masking habits and breakthrough cases. "Certainly opening school without having vaccinations available for kids under 12 also potentially will influence the course," he said.
So, if the virus is waning, then what's the argument for forcing Americans, even the young and healthy, to get a third dose of the vaccine?