A late-summer wave of coronavirus infections has gripped schools, workplaces, and local government as experts warn the public to prepare for an even wider spread of COVID-19 in the autumn and winter.
According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hospitalizations increased 24 percent in the two-week period ended Aug. 1. Sewage monitoring suggests a recent spike in COVID infections in the West and north-east. Communities across the United States have seen outbreaks in preschools, summer camps, and office buildings in recent weeks.
Public health officials said the recent surge in COVID hospitalizations is still relatively small, and the vast majority of those infected have mild symptoms comparable to a cold or flu. And most Americans have shown little willingness to undergo frequent testing and mask use, more than three months after the Biden administration phased out the 2020 declaration that declared the coronavirus a public health emergency and returned to isolation.
But for Americans who have grown accustomed to feeling the nation is through with COVID, the current wave could be a stark reminder that the new normal is not a world without the virus.
“We’re about where we’ve been since the pandemic began,” said Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “But we are stuck in a very uncomfortable situation as we have abandoned the pandemic war and are trying to understand what tomorrow looks like in a normal post-COVID world.”