When will a pandemic turn into an endemic? COVID-19 positivity rate reaches new ceiling in N.C.
The percentage of COVID tests coming back positive does get your attention
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Health officials statewide, locally and nationally spoke Tuesday about the impact of the omicron variant and the rising COVID-19 cases and positivity rate.
“Folks, I know we are all frustrated and tired of the pandemic these coming weeks are going to be challenging,”: President Joe Biden said.
The percentage of COVID tests coming back positive does get your attention.
It’s almost 30 percent now in North Carolina.
And on Tuesday, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said he’s asking the CDC to include a booster shot as meaningfully vaccinated.
“And our medical experts here and I encourage the CDC to do this as soon as possible,” Cooper said. “With these vaccines and boosters, we have an amazing tool to save people’s lives and beat this pandemic.”
It might feel a little bit like Deja vu.
This time last year, we were also experiencing a surge.
But, this time around, 62 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated. And, it’s a different variant - Omicron.
It’s more contagious than Delta. But, doctors say it appears to be less severe.
“Right now we are not seeing the same level of increases in our ICU-stay ventilated patients. We need to watch that very closely over the coming weeks,” said Atrium Health’s Dr. Katie Passaretti said. “Because that may change as we get further into this surge but it reinforces what we’ve seen with omicron that it may be slightly less severe, can still cause severe illness. But the numbers of people with severe illness requiring intubation so far have been less than we’ve seen in prior surges.”
Here’s a look at where we stand right now.
Gov. Cooper said the majority of people in the hospital have not been vaccinated. Hospitalizations are up over the last month. So are ICU stays.
But the big picture: The amount of people in the ICU is at its lowest since the pandemic began.
So how long will this go on? Will it pass quicker than Delta?
Experts said they’re hopeful.
“So, you know, predictions right now mid-January, kind of hitting the peak, whereas it took a month, six weeks, two months to get there with Delta, and then come down relatively quickly, likely, again, as we’ve seen in the class path will plateau a bit,” Passaretti said. “But you know, I think this will be a shorter surge, than we’ve had with past variants, but more challenging because of the rate of increase, you know, on this front side.”
And this is all happening as kids are returning to school from winter break.
That means vacations, gatherings, traveling and a lot of exposure to a lot of people.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools returned in person on Tuesday.
District-wide remote learning isn’t allowed anymore. Parents are worried about COVID spreading through classrooms.
“I’m expecting it to increase of course since it’s after the holidays,” a parent said. “But as long as everyone is wearing their masks as they’re supposed to, which we appreciate, that it is mandated by the schools, washing their hands, obviously staying safe the best way that they can.”
Doctors said they think COVID might linger in schools for a bit.
“I do wonder with the school starting back, and us not having all the mitigated negation strategies in place, especially since a lot of the school systems abandoned some masking last year, I think it’s going to have a longer life, so to speak, in schools,” Dr. Passaretti said. “And just remember, kids do tend to be mildly symptomatic and asymptomatic. So, you know, the screening for symptoms won’t necessarily work. So, I am worried about it kind of lingering in the schools a little bit longer.”
So, what can we all do in the meantime?
We are still learning about the omicron variant.
Doctors say, get vaccinated and get your booster, avoid gatherings and change the mask you’re wearing.
Gov. Cooper suggested wearing KN95 or N95 masks instead of cloth masks.
That’s because omicron is so contagious, you can inhale it through those cloth masks.
Copyright 2022 WBTV. All rights reserved.