COVID-19 cases surge again in and around Philadelphia as a subvariant of omicron continues to spread.
In Philadelphia, the case rate is up 91% in the past two weeks, well above the national average, according to The Inquirer’s analysis of New York Times data. Philadelphia has been averaging about 434 new cases per day for the past week, a number that’s almost certainly too low due to the use of at-home testing.
Hospital admissions are also increasing in Philadelphia. As of Wednesday, 142 patients with COVID-19 were hospitalized in Philadelphia, an 82% increase over the past two weeks. The number of new COVID-19 deaths has remained low, thanks in large part to widespread vaccination, which is effective in preventing serious illnesses.
Across the river, New Jersey is facing a steeper rise in COVID-19 cases thanks to highly transmissible BA. 2.12.1 Subvariant of omicron yet to become dominant in Pennsylvania.
New Jersey is now averaging nearly 5,000 new COVID-19 cases per day, its highest rate of new infections since early February. New Jersey has about twice the rate of new infections per capita as Philadelphia.
“We, public health officials, predicted that there would be a spike three weeks or a month after Easter and that’s what we’re seeing right now,” Camden County Health Officer Paschal Nwako told the Inquirer. “We’ll see what happens towards the end of May.”
COVID-19 hospitalizations in New Jersey are up 42% over the past two weeks, but are still well below the peaks reached during the first Omicron wave of the winter.
Six South Jersey counties — Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Ocean and Gloucester — have “high” levels of COVID-19 around the world, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends wearing a mask indoors in counties Municipality on with high transmission. The CDC looks at metrics that include cases, hospitalizations, and hospital capacity to determine community levels.
“This framework was designed to be forward-looking and anticipate where we will see further increases in cases, hospitalizations and deaths,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said during a briefing Wednesday. “And they are intended to inform communities, local leaders and individuals about when and what preventive measures should be implemented in their local settings.”
Delaware is averaging 514 new cases per day, COVID-19 test positivity rates have skyrocketed to over 18%, and two of the state’s three counties — Kent and Sussex — have “high” levels of prevalence. Also in Delaware, hospital admissions have increased by 20% in the past two weeks, although the number of patients admitted to intensive care units has remained small.
The surge in new infections comes as top Biden administration health officials warn of a significant spike in new cases and a surge in hospitalizations. The new surge is being driven primarily by Omicron subvariants, which are more transmissible than previous versions of the virus, coupled with waning protection over time, according to Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“Vaccines continue to offer strong protection against serious diseases, and that’s why, as cases increase … the disparity or ratio between hospitalizations and cases is clearly much smaller than it was in the Delta Wave,” Fauci said during Wednesday’s briefing . “However, immunity is declining and that is why it is so important to stay up to date on vaccines and especially boosters.”
If you test positive for COVID-19, the CDC says you should stay home for at least five days and isolate yourself from others in your home, regardless of your immunization status. If you must be around others, wear a well-fitting mask. You can end your isolation after five days if you no longer have symptoms or if you have been fever-free for 24 hours and your symptoms are improving.
Consider the day you were exposed to someone with COVID-19 as Day 0. The five days would start the day after you were last in contact with the person who had COVID-19.
The CDC recommends continuing to take precautions for the next five days after isolation, including wearing a well-fitting mask around others and not when traveling. If you’ve been hit hard by COVID-19 and become very ill or have a compromised immune system, the CDC recommends isolation for at least 10 days. You should also consider consulting your doctor before ending your isolation.
If you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and you are fully vaccinated, you do not need to be quarantined unless you develop symptoms such as fever, cough, difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle pain or headache, loss of taste or smell, stuffy or runny nose, nausea and diarrhea.
If you are not up to date on your vaccinations and have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19, regardless of your symptoms, the CDC recommends quarantining for five days and wearing a mask for 10 days if you are with others are together.
Visit the CDC website for more information.