US COVID activity stays low, but NYC sees rise in wastewater positives

wastewater sample

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Most US COVID measures showed continuing declining trends, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), though high levels of the virus in New York City wastewater hint at a local increase.

Few US hot spots

In the CDC's two main measures, hospitalizations for COVID this week were down 8.4% compared to the week before, but deaths were up 7.1% for the same period. Hospital admission levels by county replace the CDC's earlier community levels, and there are a few elevated counties in Texas, similar to last week's data.

For early indicators, the CDC tracks regional test positivity and emergency department visits. Test positivity declined by 0.2% over the past week, with no signs of regional surges. Emergency department visits for COVID were down 9.6%.

New York City's COVID activity appears to be on the rise, with all 14 of its wastewater treatment plants showing high concentrations of the virus, according to CBS News. However, data from the NYC Health shows that cases, hospitalizations, and deaths remain at very low levels.

Biden administration previews new CDC pick

In other US developments, sources in the Biden administration told the Washington Post that later this month the president will name Mandy Cohen, MD, as the new CDC director. She will replace current Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, who on May 5 announced that she will leave the CDC at the end of June.

Cohen is an internal medicine doctor and North Carolina's former health secretary. She worked with health officials during the Obama administration and is currently a healthcare executive.

On Twitter today, Tom Inglesby, MD, who directs the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, praised the pick, saying Cohen has strong scientific and medical credentials, has been a strong leader during the pandemic, is a good communicator, and has senior experience in government. "The President chose an outstanding leader to run CDC."

FDA revokes J&J vaccine EUA

Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday revoked its emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine, based on Janssen's May 22 request for a voluntary withdrawal.

In a statement, the FDA said the last lots of the vaccine bought by the government have expired, there is no US demand for the vaccine, and the company doesn't intend to update the strain composition.


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