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“Get used to it”: outbreaks give a taste of life with the virus Health

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CARLA K. JOHNSON – Medical Writer AP

The US is getting the first idea of ​​what a COVID-19 outbreak is during this new phase of life with the virus, and the list of recently infected is littered with stars.

Members of the Cabinet of Ministers, Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Broadway actors and governors of New Jersey and Connecticut have received positive results. Outbreaks at Georgetown University and Johns Hopkins University are returning demands for masks to these campuses as officials look for places to quarantine.

Known infections probably only show the tip of the iceberg – actors and politicians are regularly checked at work. Official case figures undoubtedly significantly underestimate how widely the virus circulates due to home testing and easy patients who do not care at all.

Across the country, wearing masks is at its lowest level since April 2020, said Ali Moqdad, a professor of medical records at the University of Washington in Seattle. According to the latest estimate of his model group, only seven are recorded in official estimates for every 100 infections. This means that in a place like New York, where the average is 1,600 cases a day, there is a much larger true number of infections.

Mokdad expects a high level of U.S. immunity created from previous infections, and vaccinations will protect the nation from the big spike.

“We will have some infections here and there, but it will not close the country,” Mokdad said. “Life must go on. We need to vaccinate and strengthen. We need to protect the vulnerable, but we need to get used to it. “

After that, several performances of the comedy “Plaza Suite” were canceled on Broadway. Matthew Broderick’s test was positive, and then his wife and colleague, Sarah Jessica Parker. Daniel Craig has also been dismissed from his revival of “Macbeth”.

Large indoor gatherings with optional masks led to the infection, and a high-profile party in Washington, D.C., is now seen as a possible super-spread event. Other clusters of infections outside the groups that are regularly screened may go unnoticed, said Josh Misho, deputy director of global health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington.

“It’s harder now than before to know what’s going on. The future is a bit more unclear, because we don’t have much information at hand, ”Misho said. “If you’re not an actor in a Broadway play or a politician, you can go through the testing loopholes.”

The public health response will vary from community to community depending on what is happening locally, Misho said.

“We are fighting small fires, not raging flames across the country, and these smaller fires can be devastating,” Misho said. “It leaves everyone to choose their own adventure when it comes to responding to a pandemic and individual behavior.”

In Washington, D.C., the outbreak was particularly significant – it affected several cabinet secretaries and members of Congress, as well as Mayor Muriel Bowser and the President of Georgetown University.

At least a dozen of these infections can be traced to the Gridiron Club dinner, the annual event of the DC social calendar, which took place on Saturday for the first time in three years. Dinner is an example of a return to near-complete normalcy that is happening across the country, leading to a surge in positive tests, but not necessarily to a corresponding surge in serious illness or hospitalization.

Washington, D.C., like much of the rest of the country, has significantly softened its stance against COVID-19 in recent weeks. Bowser allowed the mandates for vaccinations and indoor camouflage to expire, and the city’s health department stopped reporting daily viruses in early March. Participants in the Gridiron Club dinner, which Bowser was not present at, were required to provide evidence of vaccination, but otherwise disguise or social distancing protocols were not followed.

And other key elements of the DC social calendar have also returned to normal. The city’s annual cherry blossom festival has been running for several weeks now – with dozens of side events, including a parade scheduled for Saturday.

Against the background of this general return to behavior before the pandemic, there are several precautionary steps back. Georgetown University has announced that it will reintroduce its mandate for indoor masks amid rising infections, including University President John DeGee

Announcing the new restrictions, Georgetown Chief Health Officer Ranit Mishori described the outbreak as “significant” – especially among students. disease, ”Mishora wrote.

The head of health of the District of Columbia, Dr. Lacuandra Nesbit, in a comment to reporters this week pointed to the long low level of hospitalization as evidence that vaccinations have successfully limited the severity of the disease.

According to the city’s Department of Health, over the past month, the rate of viruses in Washington has increased. The weekly incidence per 100,000 population increased from 51 in early March to 110 in late March. But that’s still well below the weekly rate of 865 cases per 100,000 residents reported in the second week of January during the Omicron option spike.

Nesbitt said there were no immediate plans to restore any of the anti-virus protocols, but this has always remained an option in the future.

“We must remember that living with the virus does not mean forgetting about the virus. It’s still there, it’s still making people sick and some people are dying, ”Misho said. “If we are not prepared, we may soon find ourselves in a bad situation again.”

AP writer Ashraf Khalil of Washington, D.C., contributed.

The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Department of Science Education of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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