Contending with a New Unknown of COVID

Contending with a New Unknown of COVID

Key Points:

Recommendations for Industry

Contending with a New Unknown of COVID

This week’s matrix statistics are continuing to show a progressive direction in the US in both reduced COVID rates and increased vaccinations. This is in contrast, however, with the continued or even rising issues in much of the rest of the world, which has led to international travel restrictions and limitations.

As the US trends continue, TAG sees the nation as heading into a new uncharted area of COVID. That is, considering that we are unlikely to reach herd immunity, how do we best balance continuing risks (e.g., number of unvaccinated persons) with recovery efforts and risk mitigation measures (e.g., masking and distancing)? It is still unclear what this will look like, but it’s likely that over the next two to three months, we’ll need to be working to consider these factors and looking to resume some sort of normalcy – likely against a background of COVID noise, similar to that of the flu which we face on an annual basis.

We are heading into a new unknown, but we spend our lives dealing with risks and need to eventually determine how to deal with them while resuming our lives. TAG is continuing to follow the trends and assisting businesses in making those critical return-to-work decisions. Give us a call if you have questions.

Risk Matrix

This week’s risk matrix is continuing to show some encouraging trends, but cases are still at a risk level and vaccines not yet widely disseminated enough to reach population immunity.

  • The Government Stringency Index is 36 this week. This is the same as last week, indicating a stabilizing in government stringencies. Five (5) states’ (Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Oregon) businesses are in mixed opening stages.
  • In Figure 1, this week, we compare the case rate/100K (Table 1) in the population to the percentage of a state’s population that has been fully vaccinated (Figure 1). Table 2 compares the previous week’s percentage of states’ populations that have become fully vaccinated full dose (and the rate of change between the last week and this week).

Table 1.

Table 1

Figure 1.

figure 1

Table 2.

Table 2

  • Michigan is the only state with a TPR ≥ 10% and a case rate ≥ 25/100K people indicating that testing may not be adequate to fully characterize the true severity of the outbreak in the state (Table 3).
  • 4 states have a TPR < 10% and a case rate≥ 25/100K people, indicating that adequate testing is likely finding most symptomatic cases of illnesses. This is down from 8 last week. These states are Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Colorado, and Rhode Island (Table 3)

Table 3.

Table 3

In Case You Missed It

CIDRAP reports on a Cleveland Clinic study, published in JAMA Network Open, that found that early in the COVID-19 pandemic, early virus subgroups were associated with higher death rates. However, as the pandemic continued, “strains quickly became less diverse and the once-dominant variants were outcompeted by more transmissible variants which were tied to improved survival in hospitalized patients.” Additionally, researchers also noted that, “Early public health mitigation measures likely prevented more strains from entering the community, leading to a rapid reduction in virus strain diversity and lowering the overall death rate.” Ultimately, researchers found that “the continued evolution of SARS-CoV-2 leads to less virulence.” This study showed how different strains arrived and were outcompeted, at least in Cleveland.

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