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US In Fourth Wave of COVID-19: A Ripple or a Tsunami?

Key Points:

  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss the US being in the fourth wave of COVID-19. But will it be a ripple or a tsunami? Read more below.
  • The WHO has released a scientific brief on “Modes of Transmission of virus causing COVID-19: implications for IPC precaution recommendations.” The conclusions of this report find, “Based on the available evidence, including the recent publications mentioned above, WHO continues to recommend droplet and contact precautions for those people caring for COVID-19 patients. WHO continues to recommend airborne precautions for circumstances and settings in which aerosol generating procedures and support treatment are performed, according to risk assessment.”
  • Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine delays are forthcoming due to factory mix-up.
  • An ongoing Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine trial has found two things: there is protection for at least six months post 2nd dose vaccination [CNN]; there is potential efficacy against the B1351 COVID-19 variant [NBC News].
  • Pfizer has broken ground on a new $450M facility in Michigan.
  • The WHO has criticized vaccine rollout in Europe as being “unacceptably slow.” This, as countries throughout Europe are re-entering another lock-down phase.

Recommendations for Industry

US In Fourth Wave of COVID-19: A Ripple or a Tsunami?

Over the last few weeks, we have been communicating the resurgence of a steady rise in cases of COVID-19 in the US. It has now reached the point that we see it as a fourth wave, just as has been and is being seen in many of parts of the world. While we can’t be sure if it will continue as a tsunami or just a ripple, all the data is showing unequivocal increases, with some states showing significant increases, primarily Michigan and Minnesota. There are very clear geographic differences occurring across the nation, and in the past where we’ve seen plateauing of case-rates, it’s usually followed by an increase as people relax their behaviors.

What we do know is that 33 states have transmission rates greater than 1.0 over the previous week, and the virus is now impacting younger ages to a greater extent than in the past, with hospitalizations increasing in the 18 to 64 age groups.

What we recommend based on all this is that businesses not begin to look at bringing office workers back or significantly re-densifying your facilities yet. If you are working a hybrid model, or have a percentage of people working from home, keep it that way at the minimum. Now is not the time to start bringing people back. We continue to hope that summer will see a different trend as vaccinations continue to roll out; that the wave is a ripple and we aren’t facing a tsunami.  As vaccination rates continue to increase, we should expect to see a decrease in case and hospitalization rates in the next few months.

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