The United States may be vulnerable to an unseen surge of COVID-19 cases right now, according to multiple health experts.
Why it matters: The United States has reached a lull period in the coronavirus outbreak. All of that could be upended without much foresight because of how Americans are currently handling the pandemic.
Driving the news: Experts are worried there’s not enough public data on COVID-19 cases and there are fewer COVID-19 testing sites, forcing the U.S. to fly blind in the face of a resurgence.
- More people are using at-home COVID-19 tests, too, which were made free by the federal government.
- This means fewer people will report case numbers, which leaves experts and officials unsure about the country’s true COVID-19 case numbers.
What they’re saying: “Comprehensive case data is critical to an effective response. As we have seen throughout the pandemic, lack of data leads to poor decision making and ultimately costs lives,” Dr. John Brownstein, an epidemiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital, told ABC News.
Yes, but: Per Bloomberg, data from wastewater testing sites across the country could warn us of a potential rise in COVID-19 infections because traces of COVID-19 end up in people’s waste.
- “Coronavirus genetic material can be detected in the sewage of people infected with the coronavirus, including people without symptoms,” per Forbes.
- Recent wastewater data shows that the United States is experiencing a slight uptick in cases right now, as I reported for the Deseret News.
What to watch: Coronavirus cases are expected to rise in the coming weeks because of the BA.2 subvariant, which has been spreading throughout Europe.
What they’re saying: “I would expect that we might see an uptick in cases here in the United States because, only a week or so ago, the CDC came out with their modification of the metrics for what would be recommended for masking indoors, and much of the country right now is in that zone, where masking indoors is not required,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told KGTV last week.
The bottom line: “System-wide modernization and change to benefit all of public health requires CDC to have the authority to coordinate and guide how data are reported and shared for evidence based decision-making,” an unnamed CDC representative told ABC News. “The nation can no longer continue with the current, fractured approach of collecting public health data to be better prepared for future pandemics.”