Last night’s COVID-19 numbers suggest we are at a bit of a crossroads.
The rate of increase in new infections has decreased slightly nationwide, but the number of active infections remains very high. Also, while total COVID-19 numbers vary significantly across the nation, most states are seeing a fairly high level of infections.
Fortunately, compared to earlier infection peaks (especially in April and May), the number of serious hospitalizations and deaths in relation to infections remains relatively low. This is the only reason that the entire health care system is not completely overwhelmed at this point.
Supporting this high level of COVID-19 activity, the R0 numbers for most states remain at the 1.2 level (meaning each COVID-19 infected person is infecting 1.2 people). This means the pandemic is still expanding. These numbers are not significantly changed over the past month; however, they are higher than two or three months ago suggesting more infectious activity.
There is now a fair consensus that social interactions around Halloween caused this last spurt in COVID-19 activity. This is one of the primary reasons for so much concern around Thanksgiving. Given the current, high level of background infections, Thanksgiving gatherings could cause an incredibly dangerous rise in COVID-19 illness. Such an increase would seriously overwhelm the health care system.
The guidance that has been given advising limiting Thanksgiving gatherings this year should be followed. We are likely going to be starting immunizations in late December, so the end of this pandemic is near. Let’s hang in there until then.