So many firefighters were out sick and isolating with COVID in San Diego County that operations (including emergency response) had to be cut back. Seven engines were pulled from service temporarily.
There’s been a huge sewage spill in Southern California impacting beaches from Los Angeles down to Orange County. Mass beach closures were enacted as a result:
Beaches in Long Beach, L.A. and Orange counties closed after sewage spill of up to 4 million gallons https://t.co/xJuO2Eqw1z
— Crawford Kilian (@Crof) January 1, 2022
Global superpowers have issued a joint statement regarding the futility of nuclear war (and, by extension, the futility of mutually assured destruction). France, the UK, Russia, China, and the US announced that there are “no winners in a nuclear war,” and so nuclear war should not be fought. The countries agreed to comply with extant non-proliferation practices.
The world has nearly 291.4 million COVID cases. The world has gained over 9.5 million cases in the last week. There have been nearly 5.5 million deaths in total. The US has had about 56.2 million cases cumulatively. The US gained about 2.5 million cases in the last seven days. Over 847,000 Americans have died during the pandemic—over 8,000 in the last week. The US gained over 185,000 new cases on Sunday. Not all states are reporting daily anymore, and the holidays will continue to cause the tallies to be an underestimate. When the actual data is compiled, case gain (in preceding days) in the US turns out to be explosive:
U.S. reports more than 400,000 new coronavirus cases for 5th day in a row, with some states yet to report
— BNO Newsroom (@BNODesk) January 1, 2022
London is being slammed with Omicron. 1 in 15 is infected in London itself, and 1 in 25 is infected in England. We expect a sharp peak in the UK as has been seen in South Africa and other countries with this variant. Why are countries peaking like this? Because Omicron might be nearly as infectious as measles.
A life insurance company out of Indianapolis is noting that deaths in adults aged 18-64 have grown by 40% during the pandemic. The company notes that it’s one of the highest rates of death it’s ever seen. Most of these deaths are not listed as being from COVID—they’re excess mortality (which means many of them probably are, in fact, from COVID or related to pandemic-impacted health care issues, etc.).
France has identified another highly mutated variant. This variant, B.1.640.2, seems to cause moderate to severe disease. It’s unclear how transmissible this variant is or how it will fare in competing with other circulating variants at this time.
The Washington Post has a non-paywalled COVID metrics page that is useful:
Tracking U.S. covid-19 cases, deaths and other metrics by state (not paywalled) https://t.co/BSJiLVYbtb
— Crawford Kilian (@Crof) January 3, 2022
Hospitalizations in the US are rising quickly:
— Eric Topol (@EricTopol) January 3, 2022
The FDA is warning that some over the counter COVID tests may be less accurate in testing for Omicron. Some of the companies have pushed back on this statement. Abbott, the makers of the Binax test, disagree with the FDA. Some folks have found that throat swabs more readily produce a positive result compared to nasal swabs, but since these at-home tests were not tested that way I cannot confidently recommend that practice:
Symptoms are starting v early w Omicron (for a number of reasons I’ve discussed)
This means that there is a chance the virus isnt yet growing in the nose when you first test
Virus may start further down. Throat swab + nasal may improve chances a swab picks up virus. https://t.co/NfxHqjKpIo
— Michael Mina (@michaelmina_lab) December 27, 2021
On a personal note, I have lost someone close to me from COVID. It’s hard, especially given the work I’ve done to try to prevent this kind of outcome in the lives of people around me. One silver lining from this experience is that folks in the extended social circle of this person I cared about have gotten their first vaccine. I feel an immense need to help people overcome vaccine hesitancy, and I try to reach people before extreme outcomes become the precipitant. In honor of the person I lost, please encourage some vaccine hesitant folks you might know to reconsider getting vaccinated.