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As Life Returns to Normal, COVID-19 Still a Threat

After three years of often dire headlines surrounding COVID-19, we’ve arrived at a state of relative calm when it comes to the virus. COVID is barely mentioned in the news anymore, and most people are going about their lives as they did before the pandemic. A return to normalcy is definitely a good thing.

But that doesn’t mean COVID has gone away. Nor should it be ignored. While the latest variants seem to be less virulent than past strains, it doesn’t mean people still aren’t dying, getting sick, and feeling long-term effects.

One PubSEG employee has a cousin who’s had COVID five times and continues to suffer as a result. The virus remains a threat, especially to senior citizens and the immunocompromised, and any efforts to limit the spread can still make a huge positive impact on public health.

“COVID hasn’t gone away,” says Dawn Stolte, PubSEG’s Senior VP of Operations. “People are still getting sick, still getting hospitalized. I know everyone just wants it to be gone, but that’s just not reality right now.”

School districts, colleges and universities, and municipalities continue to see the benefits of partnering with PubSEG for contact tracing and a variety of other disease case management services. Three-plus years into COVID, we continue to support more than 60 campuses and municipalities across the country in helping to protect their communities.

Here are four recent news items that demonstrate why it’s a mistake to assume COVID is no longer an issue:

People are still dying from COVID: In California, where PubSEG has multiple clients, there were 174 reported COVID-19 deaths over the past week, a 9.4% increase from two weeks ago, according to the latest data published by the California Department of Public Health. (On a positive note, there was a 21.1% decrease in the number of people hospitalized with confirmed cases in the state during the same time period.)

Worldwide, hundreds of people still die from COVID every day, according to the World Health Organization.

A new variant that’s “one to watch”: Yes, we’ve been warned about new variants before, and it’s impossible to predict the exact ramifications. But for now, the WHO is monitoring a new COVID variant that’s thought to be driving a surge of cases in India.

The new strain, XBB.1.16, dubbed “Arcturus,” has been compared by the WHO to the U.S.-dominant XBB.1.5, the most transmissible COVID variant to date.

“We’re monitoring it because it has potential changes that we need to keep a good eye out on,” Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s COVID-19 technical lead, said at a press conference last week. “In India, XBB.1.16 has replaced the other variants that are in circulation. So this is one to watch.”

The strain has been reported in 17 U.S. states and 22 countries. It is one of more than 600 omicron subvariants that the WHO is currently tracking.

Cases are on the rise in England: The UK’s Office for National Statistics reported that an estimated 1.5 million people in private households in England were likely to have had coronavirus in the week ending March 13, up from 1.3 million the previous week. It was the highest total since the week ending Jan. 3, when there were an estimated 2.2 million cases.

That week’s results marked the end (at least temporarily) of the UK’s long-running weekly infection survey. According to the Evening Standard, “the halting of the survey comes as the rate of hospital admissions in England for people with COVID-19 rose for the third week in a row.” At the time, hospitalizations were at their highest level since the start of January.

Weakened immune systems post-COVID: A paper published last month in the journal Immunity suggested that even relatively minor bouts with COVID-19 can take a toll on the immune system, as reported by Time.

Mark Davis, a professor of immunology at Stanford University who led the study, said that: “There can be lasting damage that might be resulting in something like Long COVID, or it might be something else. We don’t know yet.”

The science, which involves studying a reduction in T cells, is complicated (you can read the article here). But Davis summed it up this way: “The message is that with this disease, we are not completely out of the woods yet when the virus is gone.”

These are just four recent examples of COVID’s ongoing impact. Even as society at large returns to normal, people are still getting sick, still dying, and there is still so much we don’t know about what lies ahead.

Taking steps to limit the spread of the virus remains vitally important in the quest to keep communities healthy.

If you’d like to learn how PubSEG has been able to do that for our clients, and ways we could also work with you, give us a call at 856-240-8117 or email contact@pubseg.com. We’re always happy to help.