During the late summer and during a rise in hospitalizations, some health officials suggested that it doesn’t appear to be as bad as previous increases of the virus.
‘Public Health Threat’Despite the drop in hospitalizations over multiple consecutive weeks, the CDC issued a report on Oct. 6 saying that COVID-19 remains a “public health threat” for older Americans and called on people again to get the updated COVID-19 booster vaccine. Older adults, it said, make up the majority of hospitalizations across the United States in recent days, although that has been consistent with historical trends.
In mid-July, around seven out of every 100,000 people aged 65 and older were hospitalized with COVID-19, said the CDC. But by mid-August, according to the agency, 16.4 per 100,000 adults aged 65 and older were hospitalized with the viral infection.
Overall, from January to August 2023, adults aged 65 years and older “accounted for 62.9 percent of all COVID-19–associated hospitalizations,” it said before suggesting that older people get the “recommended COVID-19 bivalent vaccine.”
Other than getting the vaccine, they should also adopt “measures to reduce risk for contracting COVID-19” and receive “prompt outpatient antiviral treatment after a positive SARS-CoV-2 test result,” it added.
The second highest hospitalization rate was among individuals aged 50 to 64 at around one out of 100,000, it said.
Since the original COVID-19 vaccines were rolled out several years ago, uptake of the booster shots has consistently dropped. After the CDC and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) signed off on the latest vaccines, data from the Department of Health and Human Services show that just 1 percent of all Americans opted to get the shot in September.
Mandate UpdateSome hospitals since August have started implementing mask mandates—at least for staff—claiming a rise in COVID-19 and other respiratory infections like RSV or influenza.
Notably, several Northern California counties issued a rule mandating masks be worn by all health care staff starting Nov. 1 and lasting until April 30, 2024. Contra Costa, Sonoma, Alameda, and San Mateo counties in September mandated masking regardless of vaccination status for hospitals and other care facilities, starting Nov. 1 and ending April 30, 2024.