Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations rise in New England and Puerto Rico

Some of the places that have avoided the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, including the states of Puerto Rico and northern New England, are dealing with high cases and hospitalizations as the latest, highly contagious iterations of the virus spread.

Most counties in Vermont, as well as a growing number in Maine and southern New England, now have community Covid-19 levels classified as “high” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention based on case and hospitalization trends. Puerto Rico recently had the highest rate of newly reported Covid-19 cases in the United States, with hospitalizations climbing.

Recent CDC data shows that some of these places, including Puerto Rico and Vermont, have lower-than-average past infection rates. Epidemiologists and health officials believe that immunity to vaccines and severe exposure to the virus at the national level may limit severe disease from the most recent subvariable. New England and Puerto Rico have among the highest vaccination rates in the United States

“This is starting to affect our ability to care for people outside of Covid,” said James Jarvis, chief operating officer of Incident Command at Northern Light Health, a Maine system with 10 hospitals. When beds are filled to larger facilities, he said, it becomes difficult to receive transfers from the large rural area covered by the system.

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State data recently showed that 205 Covid-19 patients were hospitalized in Maine, more than double the number in mid-April, though still less than half the peaks that occurred during the Omicron surge in January. doctor. Jarvis also said that few patients require intensive care, indicating milder cases.

However, this rise illustrates the continuing challenge of staving off the coronavirus more than two years into the pandemic, particularly with the prevalence of highly contagious subvariants in the United States.

The northeastern United States was hit hard by the sub-Omicron BA.2. The most transmissible version of BA.2.12.1 was first recognized in upstate New York.

Mark Levine, Vermont’s health commissioner, said it may be contributing to an increase in cases in a state that shares its western border with New York.

Nationally, Johns Hopkins University data shows that the seven-day moving average of new Covid-19 cases recently exceeded 73,000, compared to about 27,000 the previous month, although authorities acknowledge that the number of cases is widely missing in home test results. . The average number of hospitalized patients with Covid-19, about 14,500, is up 44% from the lowest level in mid-April, according to federal data. Hospitalization, a lagging indicator, reflects patients who are being treated for other reasons and end up testing positive after admission. These numbers are well below the omicron-spree peaks in January.

Dr. said. Levine, who credited the state’s efforts to curb the spread of the virus. The CDC estimates that 29% of Vermonters have detectable antibodies to infection by February compared to about 58% nationwide. 81% of Vermont’s residents have been fully vaccinated, compared to 66% nationally, one of the lowest death rates from the Covid-19 virus.

San Juan, Puerto Rico. The highly pathogenic sub-substance Omicron BA.2.12.1 accounts for a large and increasing number of infections on the island.


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Nationally, epidemiologists believe that heavy exposure to the virus during this winter’s record-breaking Omicron surge may have bolstered immune defenses and reduced the impact of the latest versions of the virus. But high exposure to the virus is not a guarantee of protection. The CDC estimates that nearly 62% of New Yorkers showed signs of prior infection as of February.

doctor. Levine said the cool spring weather that kept people indoors likely played a role in the increase in cases and hospitalizations in the state. However, Timothy Lahey, MD, an infectious disease physician at the University of Vermont Medical Center, said hospitalizations in the larger UVM network have recently stabilized.

Dr. said. Iris Cardona, chief medical officer of Puerto Rico’s Department of Health. Known Covid-19 cases as of Saturday reached 950 cases per 100,000 in the previous week — the highest of any country — and a test positivity rate of 25%, according to the CDC and local data. The number of hospitalized patients recently jumped to 281 people, the highest level since early February.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data shows that about 83% of Puerto Ricans have received a full vaccination, a higher percentage than any other state. The agency considers people fully vaccinated once they receive two mRNA vaccines or one dose of Johnson & Johnson.

One potential factor is that Puerto Rico was one of the oldest places to vaccinate a large proportion of the population, allowing more time for immunity from the shots to fade, said Kenera Thompson, president of the Scientific Alliance, which advises the governor on COVID-19. 19 policy.

The island, like most parts of the country, also failed to convince residents to get booster shots. Of those fully vaccinated, 58% received a first booster dose, compared to 46% nationally, according to the CDC.

Dr. said. Thomson said.

write to John Camp at jon.kamp@wsj.com and Ariane Campo Flores at arian.campo-flores@wsj.com

Variants Omicron and BA.2

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