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Will COVID-19 Ruin Your Plans This Summer?

Will COVID-19 finally be a distant memory as temperatures soar this summer? Well, maybe not a memory—but it could be less threatening than what experts predicted in April.

Families are shedding school schedules for swimsuits and sun, but could COVID-19 be waiting to ruin our summer plans? 

Maybe. Maybe not.

The consensus of experts about COVID-19’s threat level for summer 2024 seems to be cautiously hopeful.

“As long as people continue to be mindful of those in our community who are at greatest risk for severe illness and death from COVID, this is shaping up to be a summer where we’ll continue to watch the data, but right now, I’m seeing a lot of positive signs in the data,” Keri Althoff, M.D., of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told U.S. News and World Report.

That’s a welcome reprieve from data scientist Jay Weiland’s warning in April.

“Infections are expected to start rising again after bottoming out in late April,” he wrote on X on April 16. 

“All these factors considered, if I were to look in my crystal ball, I would say that we’re going to have another wave or increase in cases and hospitalizations sometime this summer.”

The reason? COVID-19 researchers have discovered new variants in wastewater tests nicknamed FLiRT. Colloquially

But more recent data analyses show that FLiRT is proving to be less of a threat, only causing a “ripple” of new cases instead of Weiland’s predicted “wave.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that 19 states and territories are—or will be—experiencing an uptick in COVID-19 infections. Another nine states and territories show declining or likely declining rates, and 17 are stable or uncertain.

Regardless, it’s all good news compared to previous years. According to the CDC, there were 5,600 new hospitalizations for the virus for the week ending April 20, 2024. That’s a drastic change from the 150,000 new weekly hospitalizations in January 2022.

We seem to be on the road to a post-COVID world—or, at least a world where the virus is considered to be endemic, or something we face continuously, like the flu.

Speaking of the flu, the scales have tipped when it comes to the number of people being inoculated against both viruses. 

CDC data shows that only 23% of adults get new COVID-19 vaccine injections or boosters, while 48% get the flu shot.

But experts warn we shouldn’t shun it just yet.

“Assuming that the virus continues to evolve and our immunity wanes, the general population is likely to continue to need an annual booster for protection,” Megan L. Ranney, MD, dean of the Yale School of Public Health, told WebMD.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

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