The Fifth Wave: Concerns and Precautions Heading into the Holiday Season. Dr. Michael’s Covid Update For November 20, 2021

Covid Mini Update for 12-10-21: 24% Higher than last week.

We had a big jump after the Thanksgiving Holiday. Cases rose 24% from the week before. From December 2 through 8, Cuyahoga had 5847 new cases. One year ago, we were peaking with new cases. December 2-8, 2021 saw 7154 cases. Unlike a year ago, I expect the numbers to continue to rise for the next couple of weeks. I do expect us to overtake our peak from a year ago.

Covid Mini Update for 12-3-21: Cases Rising, Omicron. 
Cases have continued to rise over the last few weeks. We are now over 57 times the new cases than in July. We currently have 72% of the cases than we had a year ago. I don’t expect any decrease any time soon. An early study is showing that Omicron is 2.5 times more contagious than the Delta variant. I believe that Omicron will be a significant variant here within 4-6 weeks, and possibly become the dominant variant in 8-10 weeks. Currently, Northeast Ohio is seeing the worst hospitalization cases since last January, with 80-90% of these cases being unvaccinated. As Omicron dominates, I expect vaccine efficacy to diminish, but should still be significantly protective against severe disease and hospitalizations. 

My belief that the cases would continue to decrease after September was wrong. New cases have increased 19%, 40%, and 24% in each of the last three weeks. We have not seen this number of new cases and hospitalizations since last January. New cases are 44x what they were in July. This being the week before Thanksgiving. Essentially, our fourth wave may be the baseline for the fifth wave. 

Last week (Thursday, Nov 11 to Wednesday, Nov 17), we saw 3,633 new cases in Cuyahoga County. One year ago we had 5,342 new cases. Even though we are still under 70% of where we were a year ago, I believe that it’s a possibility that we could meet or exceed the new cases that we saw last winter. 

I say this because less than 13% of the population in Cuyahoga have had a documented case of Covid, and less than 60% of the population have been fully vaccinated. I also say this because we are taking more risks than a year ago. 

If you haven’t had Covid yet, and you’re not vaccinated, and you are thinking about possibly getting the vaccine, now is a great time to do so. To see if you’ve had Covid without knowing it, get tested for antibodies. A great resource to get scheduled for the vaccine is the Ohio Department of Health vaccine scheduler.

Like many of you, and unlike last year, I will be traveling this Thanksgiving. Everyone that we will be with is fully vaccinated. We will be driving and I will continue mask when going into stores. Our plan is to take rapid Covid tests before we leave for Boston and then take it again Thursday morning. This will greatly reduce the chance that we are passing anything to those we are visiting. 

Rapid Covid tests come in two forms. One is done with a computer or phone with a proctor guiding you. This uses a phone app to deliver verifiable results that can be used for workplaces, organizations, concerts, and other events that require proof of a negative test for entry. The other is a non-proctored test that is self-administered. 

The proctored rapid at-home test is available for free at many locations in Ohio. Search for Rapid At Home Tests on State’s Covid Testing website. We purchased some non-proctored tests for convenience. While Amazon, Walgreens, and CVS have them, the cheapest that I found was at Walmart.

If we were flying, I would use some N95 masks (that attach around the head rather than around the ears like the KN95’s) at the airport and on the plane. If you are flying, we still have some for sale for $3. 

I am still recommending Vitamin D for everyone until June. I’m also recommending Illicium and Reishi Supreme as immune boosters as well as keeping some zinc on hand in case you get ill.

As for boosters, several patients have reported to me that they have had flu symptoms. Most have not had anything more than a sore arm. I have not gotten a booster yet. I received the Moderna vaccine which is more than three times the dosage of mRNA as the Pfizer vaccine. Over time, the Moderna vaccine has retained its efficacy more than the others. As such, I will probably wait another few weeks before getting one. If you received the J&J vaccine, you may want to consider a different brand booster

I’m ambivalent regarding the booster. The double dose vaccines seem to still do an excellent job at preventing serious complications for most. It’s also hard to justify booster shots when around 60% of the world’s population hasn’t been fully vaccinated. This is a good article on booster shots.

So be smart, stay safe, and have a great Thanksgiving. 

~Dr. Michael

Here is a pdf of this article with notes.

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About Dr. Michael Polsinelli, DC

I really enjoy my work. It is a combination of listening, analyzing, and the skill of performing my craft. I love the expression on my patients faces when I puzzle out a long standing problem of theirs, or when their pain leaves after gently adjusting them. Read more about me

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