By Bob Tannenhauser
Wear a mask or not? Get a second booster or not? In-person services or not? Consider COVID over or not?
More and more, answers to questions like these are being left to our own judgment — hopefully, grounded in experience, observation, and data. Here are the latest numbers for the Upper West Side.
Covid positivity rates continue to rise. The positivity rates for the UWS zip codes for the seven days ending April 9th were 6.73% for 10025; 7.59% for 10024; 8.12% for 10023; and 10.69% for 10069. The rate for Morningside Heights, zip code 10027, where Columbia and Barnard are located, is 6.7%. Both institutions have started requiring masks in some indoor settings, according to the NY Post .
“There is no question, Covid19 prevalence is rising in New York City, as it is across the U.S.,” said Dr. Irwin Redlener, founding director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia. “This is mostly because the latest Omicron variant, BA.2, is incredibly infectious. The good news is, so far, we are not seeing a rise in hospitalizations or fatalities. Could things get worse? Yes. In fact, we may be seeing an entirely new Covid surge in coming weeks. And I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of bringing back mandatory masks or vaccinations.”
If you’re thinking, “Oh, I’ll just get it and get better,” talk to someone who has experienced “long COVID.” Even mild cases of the disease can lead to lingering problems that can last for months, according to a team of experts at John Hopkins Medicine.
So, what do we do for the holidays? Dr. Redlener offered some simple suggestions:
“People with any upper respiratory symptoms or fever should stay away from gatherings outside immediate family that you normally live with — and get tested. Even if the result is negative, symptomatic people should stay away from others. Conversely, “high risk,” i.e. older people or those with compromised immune systems, should try not to be with symptomatic and unvaccinated people, or wear medical-grade masks. Young children with symptoms should be considered COVID positive and tested. They can definitely be carriers, as can those under five, who are not vaccine eligible.”
Enjoy the holidays! Be safe, be smart.
Drawing by Notas de prensa via Wikimedia Commons.