Covid, Flu, RSV: Hospitalizations Rise as Wave of Viruses Hits New York

Oct 27, 2022 · 207 comments
Me (Miami)
Yup.. People will continue to get sick and some will die, that’s what humans do. The pandemic is over, stop trying to bring it back to life. Most of us aren’t buying it
L (NYC)
@Me: You're done with Covid, but Covid isn't nearly done with you! The pandemic continues, regardless of your opinion. Good luck, b/c you're going to need it.
Federalist (California)
It is clear we will have another wave of the pandemic this winter. The new BQ1 and BQ1.1 variants evade prior immunity. It remains to be seen if the booster is effective against the BQ strains now spreading and out competing the BA5 strain. People not boosted are clearly vulnerable. The hospitalization rate is the best leading indicator we have. Given the lack of masking the virus can spread freely. It is time to go back to requiring and enforcing masking in places like public transit, stores, offices and especially doctor's offices. Entry unmasked into a public space must be treated as criminal trespassing.
SooS (NJ)
@Federalist Except the data shows very little difference between people boosted and people who only got the original vax, there is nearly no difference in hospitalization rates nor death rates between those groups. For younger, healthy people the boosters seem to offer little benefit. Masks do little for respiratory viruses which has always been the case which is why Asian countries do no better than the US on an annual basis with the Flu or RSV even though they use masks.
P (NYC)
@Federalist Really? You must love what is going in China & it's zero-covid policy. Masking is not a bulletproof nor it has been proven as a go-to solution to prevent the spread, as the studies show there has been little effect on wearing the mask or not.
Lokabe (ny)
@SooS In 2020 the flu was virtually non existent, stemming from the fact that the majority of people wore a mask. Numbers were up slightly in 2021 due to many that stopped wearing them. Thats evidence that masks work. This season is already looking to be a bad one due to less and less masking, almost none. I am still wearing one in stores and have gotten all the recommended vaccines/boosters….so far so good, knock on wood. And by masks, I mean a well made KN95 or N95.
Dman (Portland, OR)
Why are people tired of masking? Masking is a protective measure. Humans have taken protective measures, often inconvenient ones, since the dawn of time and done so without complaint. Nobody ever says they get tired of putting on seat belts or of wearing protective clothing when doing hazardous work or working with harmful chemicals. Before Covid, did anyone complain about getting annual flu shots, or staying up to date on their vaccinations? (OK, maybe someone complained, but they were a small minority.) I guess the difference is that masking is new for us. If we had a long history of masking indoors, like they do in parts of Asia, we'd be in a much better situation.
Mary (NC)
@Dman "Before Covid, did anyone complain about getting annual flu shots" You do realize that the flu shots are only being taken by, at best, 50% of the population?
West of East (Northern California)
@Dman The anti-vaccination movement preceded Covid. Still, you are correct in suggesting it was much smaller. It wasn't such a big part of the Republican Party coalition, or so central to its conception of liberty and freedom.
Joyce K (Ga)
@Dman Many people don't believe masks prevent the spread of viruses so refuse to wear them. I'm not among that group though I haven't been wearing masks lately.
Ryan Bobo (New York)
Why oh why isn’t anyone talking about LONG RSV or LONG FLU??? Just because I just made those things up doesn’t mean we can’t treat them as a real threat!!!
Immune to the stuff (NYC)
OK, OK. Enough already. Cough, period!
613 (Queens, NY)
So far I have avoided getting COVID. I always wear a KN95 mask in indoor public spaces, including in my apartment building. When I get out onto the sidewalk I pull it down below my nose. It’s annoying to wear a mask, but its not such a big deal. My fear of Long COVID keeps my mask on my face.
U.N. Owen (NYC)
I went to lunch and to the Met with a friend this past weekend. No one wore a mask at the café except the waiters, and masks were not exactly common at the Met either. This is going to be a tough winter.
Edward Hale (Ohio)
Right when we need accurate info the most...CDC decides to not report cases , deaths, and hospitalizations on a daily basis?
schlurbert (ca)
I think the real pathogen here is the internet.
Karenna (Sydney)
We are finally getting some spring weather here in Sydney after an extremely wet and cold winter. So the flu started early in winter but is all but gone. RSV has been a problem for a while. Covid continues to decline. We still have to wear masks in most medical settings and a few people choose to wear them otherwise, but nobody gets upset about it. What has caused havoc here are various viruses circulating that are not Covid, flu nor RSV. Grandson got a virus twice only six weeks apart. Nobody else in the family got it either time. Similar story with a friend with a flu like illness, three times this year. Nobody else got it. Hope you all get through your winter ok.
Mike (Long Island)
@Karenna Thanks Karenna! Enjoy the better weather
photobug (NYC metro)
RSV is a nasty disease that can attack adults at any age, and even once it's clear from your body, it can take months to recuperate. It's known to also trigger pneumonia. If you have a respiratory condition, getting RSV can make you very sick. I got it and spent a week in a hospital in isolation. My manager at the time also got it; took him months to feel better. So I get upset with all these articles that pooh pooh it in adults.
Catherine (USA)
I'm immunocompromised & have been for 22 years. Long before COVID I, of necessity, became a germaphobe. No masks, but frequent hand washing; frequent use of sanitizing cleaners on high touch surfaces; avoiding people & especially kids in crowded store aisles during cold & flu season. Almost never sick. Despite double vaxxes & boosters and mostly staying home, I did get COVID a couple of months ago at a medical facility where all wear masks. Go figure. But..... months prior I had a plan in place w/doc should I get COVID & started Paxlovid within 16 hours of 1st symptom. Pretty sick for several days, but recovered completely. Suggestion: have a COVID plan in place w/your doc. Soon I will get the new booster & travel for the 1st time in 3 yrs ... will have Paxlovid with me just in case.
MacMan (Larchmont, NY)
@Catherine If you didn't have to go to a hospital and die, it doesn't matter. People have always gotten sick and felt better after a few days. Personally, I lost my livelihood because of all the lockdowns, etc.
Woodsy (Northeast)
I walked into my local grocery store today, and it was empty, so I stayed unmasked. As I shopped, it got more crowded and I heard a few people coughing. I put my mask on. During a recent trip, I masked in the airport and on the plane until the air exchange kicked in, then took off my mask until landing (saw that idea in a NYT article a while back). For me, and many I know, it's a situational thing. I don't mask or unmask all the time, and if anyone would prefer me to mask for their comfort I have no problem doing so. It doesn't have to be all or nothing, and it doesn't need to be difficult. And yep, I'm vaxxed and boosted with the latest version. Nope, haven't had Covid yet that I know of.
L (NYC)
@Woodsy: I'm glad you're doing well so far, and I hope you'll continue to avoid catching Covid. I have a slightly different approach: When I walk into a grocery store (or similar place), even if it's empty at that moment, I remind myself that someone could have been coughing (or sneezing) in that spot 5 minutes before I walked in the door - and that's why I always mask up in places like that.
Incensed (NYC)
Just can't understand anti-maskers. We're living in an unusual time. Public policy and the people it designed for need to be flexible. Masks help to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses and mask mandates should be reinstated and people should willingly wear them during periods of high tide.
Reasonable Person (Boston)
And I can’t understand the pro-maskers, who want everyone to permanently wear an onerous and uncomfortable intervention that has never made a noticeable impact on transmission of a disease that is overwhelmingly mild and for which effective vaccines have long been available.
Wisdom (CA)
@Reasonable Person Germany has just reinstated its mask mandate for the winter to try to cut virus spread and alleviate the burden on the health care system. The U.S. should do the same. It's just one way of buying time until a cure can be developed. It's a seasonal restriction, not permanent.
L (NYC)
@Reasonable Person: You undercut yourself with your own hyperbole, b/c NO ONE is saying that "everyone" should "permanently wear" a mask. If you find wearing a mask "onerous and uncomfortable" then you'd better hope you never need to be on an oxygen feed or a ventilator. PS: That "overwhelmingly mild" disease has killed MORE THAN a million Americans. If you think that is "overwhelmingly mild" then please tell me your definition of a "serious" disease. I'm really curious.
Chen (New York)
Ok so we don’t know if the newest bivalent booster is effective against the newest variants but we’d better get boosted because it’s better than nothing, right? Just want a clear sentence out of the article. (and I’m boosted)
Feeble Flea (NYC)
What about Monkeypox? Has that one been relegated to a supporting role?
Ryan Bobo (New York)
Yeah we implemented targeted interventions at the population that really needed it and let everyone else live their lives as normal and it worked. We definitely don’t want that story to get out…
Ryan Bobo (New York)
And what about LONG RSV and LONG FLU??? Both are just as real as LONG COVID. It’s like we all just want to pretend these things will go away.
Mary (NC)
@Feeble Flea not unless you have H.I.V. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/26/health/monkeypox-hiv.html
LL (nyc)
People don’t seem to realize that masking all the time and everywhere actually weakens your immune system in the long run. Which explains why so many teachers and students this fall, who are mask-free for the first time since spring of 2020, are getting terribly sick with the common cold. You cannot and should not bubble yourself. Your immune system will lose its ability to fight.
L (NYC)
@LL: Nope! Masking does NOT "weaken your immune system" - not in the short nor the long run. Never has, never will, and that's a FACT. (Facts are such annoying things, aren't they?!)
eqnp (California)
please site supporting data
Mahopac (NY)
Covid death rates are higher among Republicans than Democrats, mounting evidence shows. We need to pay attention in NY, especially in Republican areas where there are no hospitals, no health clinics and anti-vaxer candidates for political office. In Mahopac the Putnam Hospital was slammed and locals crossed the border to Danbury Hospital which was more slammed. Republican legislators in Putnam spent more time complaining about mask mandates than actively addressing that in total 29,186 got covid. Wellness is not even mentioned when it comes to the party of qanon hate and lies.
berman (Orlando)
Returned from NYC recently sick with something terrible. Covid rapid tests negative. Day 13 now of being sick. I masked indoors but met up with an unmasked family member who said she was sick of masking and everything else.
Mask Up (NYC)
From the article: "Doctors say the pandemic shifted patterns of immunity, by reducing the circulation of regular viruses with masks, and isolation measures." Uh, is that a backhanded compliment to the much-maligned mask?
Rodger K (New York)
For decades prior to 2020 every RCT study showed that masks do nothing to prevent the spread of RSV, flu, and other respiratory viruses. Fauci and CDC openly talked about it. Countries with masks in Asia never had lower RSV or flu rates. What happened that we now ignore RCT studies, even the 2 on covid, and openly say things that masks prevent respiratory viruses? Why did we abandon data?
Get it right (NYC)
@Rodger K In a recent interview on the BBC's Hardtalk. Fauci admitted that his position on masks was wrong. You should watch the interview; it's quite interesting.
Reasonable Person (Boston)
Yeah but have you seen the sneezing mannequins? Ironclad science.
Jas Friedman (London)
@Rodger K Masks do work. Please do not spread misinformation.
Cathy Kim (Chicago)
My father went to an ER in northern suburb of Chicago this week due to symptoms from Covid. We waited 5 hours in ER waiting room despite having arrived by ambulance. There were at least 40 other patients waiting who had also arrived by ambulance. There were no quarantined areas for Covid patients. The administrators came out periodically to apologize and say that there were no ER beds open bc there were no beds at all open in the hospital, so no admitted patients could be moved from ER to hospital rooms. They stated that not only were all of their hospital beds full, but it was true for all of the hospitals in its whole system, NorthShore, which is comprised of 5 hospitals all located in northern Chicago suburbs). We were also told there were NO pediatric beds open in the entire state. My mother in law had the same experience in the same ER in early June, but she waited 10 hours in the waiting room. This is absolute not standard of care. And if it is, then woe is us.
Paul Wall (NYC)
@Cathy Kim this is the norm now. I'm an ER nurse in NYC. We are beyond capacity throughout the enterprise (5 hospitals). The same is true of the other hospital systems. In Atlanta, they closed an ER and within a month 80% of Atlanta hospitals are beyond capacity. Read Becker's Hospital Review for the atrocious state of American Healthcare: Violence against nurses, Hospital closure after hospital closure, on and on.
Hollis (Sewanee)
Two more weeks till we flatten the curve. I wear a mask not to protect myself, but to protect others. Follow the science.
MacMan (Larchmont, NY)
@Hollis Indeed. March 13th, 2020 and my daughter was sure her school would be open by the time of her birthday two weeks later. How did that work out...
LL (nyc)
N95 protect the wearer enough that you don’t need to do it for them. Follow the science.
Julius Caesar (Rome)
The vaccine saves lives. My older brother was not vaccinated and spent a month very ill in a hospital with Covid and then 15 days in a rehab hospital. My mother, only 8 days after having the vaccine administered and 22 years older than him had Covid for only 3 to 4 days, dangerous, had 3 microstrokes, but saved her life. Same Covid, they became ill the same day in the same house.
Shot-Thru-With-Boosters (NYC)
And so it's at this point in the pandemic saga that the Mean Joe Greene of scientists reveals how to tackle the relentless viruses?
Jenna F. (Alaska)
The problem and the public health suggestions about what to do about it are fully circular: The RSV problem was caused by masking and locking up our kids in a manner that resulted in low population immunity. The suggestion on how to solve the RSV problem is to mask and lock up our kids. Circle much? That’s insane and will necessarily result in masking and locking up our kids into perpetuity. My sympathies go out to those who are waiting a long time for a bed. But the altruistic (versus individualistic) long term solution seems to be to send your kids out into the world and hope for the best when they get sick. That is the only way to break the cycle for future kids. In a this way maybe masking and isolation is actually selfish.
Steve (Colorado)
@Jenna F. Nowhere in this article did anyone recommend "locking up kids". The recommendations of vaccinating, boosting, avoiding crowded indoor conditions, and masking make a lot more sense than "sending your kids out into the world and hoping for the best when they get sick". While most children will show mild illness from RSV, flu, and COVID, unfortunately some will suffer from severe disease and even death. Why anyone does not keep up to date on vaccines and boosters is crazy.
Northwoods (Maine)
@Jenna F. Hope for the best?
Gene G (Palm Desert CA)
I fully expect the mask police to come after we unmasked again. If someone else wants to wear a mask under the belief that it protects them, they absolutely should. I am fully vaxxed. If I am sick, I'll stay away from others as I should. But if I have no other reason to, I'm not going to wear a mask because there might, maybe, however unlikely, be some possibility that somehow I might somehow, be able to unknowingly transmit something that I am unlikely to have. Otherwise, I would just mask up, whenever I leave the house, wherever I am, indoors, outdoors, maybe even at the beach. And I ain't doing that . Sorry. Protect yourselves if you feel the need to do so. Please don't judge me simply because I have a different risk tolerance level than you.
L (NYC)
@Gene G: You left out the part where you're contagious to others BEFORE you have any symptoms that you would notice. I *do* judge you - AND I'm very glad you live a long, long way from where I live.
Jas Friedman (London)
@Gene G There are news reports of younger people suffering from heart attacks months after getting acute covid. I don't understand why it's OK to infect others when heart damage can happen. Some people end up dying in their sleep
A (Virginia)
@L Did you mask prepandemic during flu season?
Reasonable Person (Boston)
I say this as one of the small percentage of people who actually got a bivalent booster: I'm never wearing a mask ever again. If that makes me a bad person, so be it. Germaphobes who want to guilt the rest of the world into wearing a mask forever are selfish in the extreme.
Joliet Jake (NY/NJ)
I feel like we've all forgotten that masks don't protect the wearer all that well; but masks protect others, and they do so remarkably well. Many COVID cases (and flu) are asymptomatic, which means we're all out living out best maskless lives and potentially getting others catastrophically ill. When I see someone wearing a mask, I see them as a good citizen doing their very small part to help protect the community. It takes such little effort to be helpful.
Gene G (Palm Desert CA)
@Reasonable Person I'm with you 100 %. If someone else wants to wear a mask under the belief that it protects them, they absolutely should. I am fully vaxxed. If I am sick, I'll stay away from others as I should. But if I have no other reason to, I'm not going to wear a mask because there might, maybe, however unlikely, be some possibility that somehow I might somehow, be able to unknowingly transmit something that I am unlikely to have. Otherwise, I would just mask up, whenever I leave the house, wherever I am, indoors, outdoors, maybe even at the beach. And I ain't doing that . Sorry. Protect yourselves if you feel the need to do so. Please don't judge me simply because a have a different risk tolerance than you.
Reasonable Person (Boston)
@Joliet Jake I don’t care if masks prevent 100% of transmission (it’s probably more like 10% at best). Still not wearing one. Not worth it.
Paul Wall (NYC)
“There’s nothing to be alarmed about right now, but we are laser focused on the dynamics involved,” said Gov. Kathy Hochul at a virus briefing on Wednesday. I'm an ER Nurse in Brooklyn. There is another crisis taking place. Pt are waiting in the emergency departments for 48, 72, 96 hours waiting for an available bed in the hospital. There IS something to be alarmed about. There are not enough nurses in the department. NYC continues to grow by leaps and bounds and new hospitals are not being build to meet the demand. Please NYT, nurses need help exposing the workplace abuse. Overworked, understaffed, denied vacation requests and time off to recoup, chronic physical and verbal abuse from patients (staff RN punched in thecae last week / Soiled period-soaked pad thrown at RN / Nurse strangled by patient - all in one Brooklyn ED recently). Hospitals state they have enough enough staff. We had 11 day nurses for 160 patients in the ER - and all of the nurse techs are unable to assist RNs because they are stuck on "1 to 1" suicide / security watches. Staffing at night is even worse. We're drowning and Thanksgiving travel hasn't even happened yet.
Amy (Brooklyn)
NYT I wish you would not let people spread fake conspiracy garbage here. The vaccine WAS fully tested and then it was tweaked as the Omricon virus mutated slightly … so it did not need a full testing —it is safe, we don’t need Twitter conspiracy comments amplified
Brad M Eells (Idaho)
Pfizer claimed, without providing ANY actual evidence, that their vaccine would stop transmission, which was an outright lie further eroding public trust in institutions.
Jane Doe (NYC)
@Brad M Eells No, Pfizer did not claim that their vaccines would "stop transmission." It claimed that their vaccines will prevent people from hospitalization and death for a great extent (with a percentage I forgot, but it was more than 80%), and prevent from catching the virus for less than that percentage above.
A (Virginia)
@Jane Doe If you're talking about fall 2020, you are wrong about Pfizer. Pfizer absolutely said its vaccine was 95% effective at preventing infection. Moderna said it vax was 94% effective at preventing infection. The CDC said the same early on after its own study of health care workers who had gotten Pfizer. See: https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/18/health/pfizer-coronavirus-vaccine-safety/index.html That's one source from late 2020. There are countless other sources for the same findings easily found with a google search. It was because of those widely reported rates of 94 and 95% in late 2020 that so many adults got vaxxed as soon as they did in 2021, which was an astounding accomplishment. What wasn't known in late 2020 is that the vaccines' effectiveness rates dropped significantly after a few months. It was only then that the messaging changed to "preventing hospitalization and death."
raymond frederick (sunnyside nyc)
just back from mexico city and to my surprise they are still heavy into using masks everywhere especially on mass transit.. there's a reason why mexico city has half the rate of covid that nyc does even with a significantly larger population.. the reason? you don't have to be a brain surgeon to figure that one out..
LL (nyc)
It never gets cold there. People are outdoors much more.
eqnp (California)
It does indeed get cold at 7300 ft altitude & surrounded by mountains. It is densely populated. Very high vaccination rate, & very high masking rate.
raymond frederick (sunnyside nyc)
@eqnp your totally correct.. some nights it was quite cold and most people don't have heat.. welcome to the real world
Aarta (big cities)
Are the poele saying we need to go back to masking everyhere actually reading the article they are commenting on? "Doctors say the pandemic shifted patterns of immunity, by reducing the circulation of regular viruses with masks, and isolation measures." Reducig the circulation of viruses by hiding at home, masking, reduces immunity. there have been numerous articles about this including in NYT. People are getting walloped by colds that seem almost as severe as the flu used to be because their immune system is out of practice. You cannot have a functining society dependent on avoiding germs. We can't avoid them. You can avoid them for a time ... and then pay yhe price that's highlighted in this article. I have worn a mask when others were wearing it (before it becme accepted early in the pandemic) and am more careful than most. But it's clear there's a cost to that. Simply beating the "mask mandate" drum is not the answer. I think vaccination is, but even that is not 100% because flue vaccine efficacy is low.
A. (NJ)
@Aarta People absolutely let their immune systems atrophy or fade during the pandemic. Over the past two and a half years I used hand sanitizer four times when required to do so and otherwise didn't touch the stuff.
Teesh (Brooklyn)
@Aarta I really wish more people understood this. Thank you.
Dr. Herbert Ross (Lyme, CT.)
@Aarta We should not be talking about a global policy. Whether or not to wear a mask depends on your level of risk. With respect to COVID, the rate of administration of the latest booster among adults is pathetically low. This may well come back to bite us this winter. For the elderly, or the immune compromised, wearing a mask indoors in public places makes perfect sense regarding all 3 pathogens now circulating in the population. Who has done a controlled study comparing randomized mask wearers to nonwearers measuring the incidence of viral infections after masks are discarded? The notion that recent isolation and mask use have resulted in viral outbreak now is intriguing, but not backed by evidence. By the way, to my knowledge, there are no government mask mandates in force anywhere. Hospitals and doctors offices require them for obvious reasons.
fingers (LA/NY)
Several people have posted concerns about rapid antigen flo tests and inaccuracies. It is important to note that when you take a rapid test is vital. You risk a false negative if you test too soon after exposure. Wait 3-5 days. It takes time to build up a viral load. You can have the Flu and Covid at the same time so don't just assume you have the flu. Covid is NOT the same as the Flu. COVID is many many times more contagious with a mortality rate about 10 times more than the flu. COVID is constantly changing. New Variants are developing constantly, and the most respected immunologist don't have a handle on what's going to happen next. The Flu basically has two recurring strains. A and B. and we are far more educated on influenza than COVID. Lets not forget that the Flu is deadly too.
Famdoc (New York)
@fingers You make an excellent point about COVID home tests. If you have symptoms and are vaccinated, it may take a few days for your viral load to reach the threshold of detection of those tests. Stay at home and test daily. Call your doctor. As for your statement that the flu has "two recurring strains", the truth is that the two major proteins on the surface of the influenza virus are constantly mutating. Therefore, there are countless strains and some are more virulent than others. You remember H1N1? Well, the H and the N refer to those proteins and the numbers after the letters to variants. The number of variants possible is quite high.
The Iconoclast (Oregon)
How tragic, a nation too stupid to save itself.
larkspur (dubuque)
Is it exhausting to stay alive? The public display of selfishness, arrogance, and stupidity is exhausting. The mass psychotic episode of pandemic denial is exhausting. The politics of holier than thou's is exhausting. Dying on a vent is exhausting.
Wheezer (NYC)
@larkspur Glad someone's finally prepared an exhaustive list of all the exhausting things in our world today.
MacMan (Larchmont, NY)
As expected, this comment thread has devolved into a clown car full of hypochondriacs who would prefer to wear a mask 24/7/365 rather than risk getting the sniffles and have a fever for a few days...
Jane Doe (NYC)
@MacMan Fever for a few days? There are studies on the mystery of long-Covid right now. You will be sorry later.
Nicolas (New York)
@MacMan I don’t know a single person whose COVID experience was a few days of fever and sniffles.
Joliet Jake (NY/NJ)
Why do you cover your face when you sneeze? Because you don't want to sneeze all over other people. It's basic politeness and basic hygiene. The people around you don't bury their faces in their elbows when you sneeze, right? Masks are the same way. They are worn to protect *others* from your droplets. Some illnesses are spread by a direct sneeze blast to the face. COVID can be spread in much smaller droplets, which is why we mask... because it's less about the big sneeze and more about the simple exhaling and talking. 2 years into this pandemic and it's easy to have forgotten this. So when folks say they wanna go maskless, they think the only risk is to themselves. Not true.
Long Island (NY)
Every town should have a dashboard showing the data of cases. Look in NY where you can see where there is GOP reprsentation and no advocacy there are higher #'s of deaths and covid. VOTE Dem since Zeldin doesn't believe in science or vaccinations.
Mario Colletti (Wayne, New Jersey)
As some one who works in pediatrics this current surge is worrying in that it is coming earlier than expected however it is still manageable currently and will slow down I believe in the long term won't strain children's hospitals too much but time will tell. With that said I really would like the general news media to maybe question why no one is getting boosted with the bivalent shot. Could it be that we have no idea if it has any meaningful effects on clinical endpoints like hospitalization and death. With that if there is a difference in those endpoints is it in every age group? (I suspect not) or perhaps there will potentially only be a benefit to people over 65 or those with underlying health conditions that make them high risk. We don't know because all Pfizer did was test it on 10 mice and that is not how we evaluate therapeutics let alone vaccines which is an intervention that is given to healthy people to prevent disease and typically is and should be held to a much higher standard and bar. To date there is no evidence that any of these boosters will provide additional protection for the majority of the population outside the primary series.
Amy (Brooklyn)
It’s because it was already fully tested on the earlier bivalvant vaccine but then was tweaked as the virus changed. PLEASE do not spread false information —it’s dangerous. It is safe.
Rodger K (New York)
@Amy there is neither safety nor efficacy data. No other country has approved such shots on small children
Pamela (Maryland)
We live in a country that has a Caring Deficit. The lack of interest in continuing precautions like masks and vaccinations against the spread of new Covid variants is equal to the lack of interest in protecting the most vulnerable among us ; the elderly , the chronically ill and children; the ripple effects of this failure will haunt our country for years to come.
Alexandra Leh (Downtown Los Angeles)
@Pamela Thank you for this thoughtful comment. I believe that we are here to be of service to each other…and the fact that we’re seeing too many Americans deny that simple philosophy is a tragedy from which I fear we’ll never recover.
Mike (Peoria, AZ)
Wife and I got our annual Flu vaccines yesterday, along with the latest Covid booster (Omicron) which makes 5 Covid jabs for us. We believe in the science, we get Flu shots every years, we've had the pneumonia and shingles vaccines too, and I still have the paper receipt for my smallpox vaccine -- dated 1952. I'm disappointed at the millions who've let themselves fall victim to the lies and political spin going around about vaccines.
D Bartholomew (Utah)
@Mike Do you have any concerns about Antibody Dependent Enhancement (ADE) which essentially states, in laymen's terms, that the intricate human immune system was not built to withstand so many shots within such a short period of time, that immunity may actually be reduced because of this copious use of vaccines.
Brody (NYC)
@Mike Good for you. I appaud your exemplary vaccination regimen.
ellienyc (New York city)
@D Bartholomew So how does this theory apply in situations where it is common to get 2 or 3 -- maybe more -- vaccines at once -- like young children or people entering the military? Is the effectiveness of those vaccines reduced?
Todd (Auburn WA)
**News flash** Donning a mask prevents transmission of viral laden droplets coughed up or sneezed out of infected lungs
Brody (NYC)
@Todd Newsflash: Donning an N95 mask prevents transmission. Cloth masks are ineffective.
KB (Brooklyn)
Much of the rest of the world understood that and eventually didn’t consider a cloth mask a mask.
Rodnil (Queens)
The boosters need to be made more readily available, not only in pharmacies that turn people away on a whim. Also, the Novovax needs to be made available as a booster for those who have had adverse reactions to the Moderna/Pfizer vaccines. Perhaps more of the people whose faces are regularly all over the media - politicians, celebrities, health commissioners - might lead by example and have themselves photographed with masks more often. Finally, let’s stop focusing exclusively on hospitalizations and deaths, and start paying attention to Long Covid symptoms, which are affecting millions of us!
Steve (Colorado)
@Rodnil In my area it is very easy to schedule an appointment at your local pharmacy to get the bivalent COVID vaccine. I suspect this is true across the nation. There is no excuse that more Americans are not fully vaccinated and boosted.
KB (Brooklyn)
Since barely anyone has gotten this round it’s very available. Pharmacy chains and mom-and-pop pharmacies have it here in NYC, and I can’t imagine it’s too much different elsewhere in the country.
Jennifer (NY)
I had a two week wait when I scheduled the booster in late September. I had to cancel as I came down with COVID while waiting. It was “mild” but just awful.
MAMom (Boston)
My husband and I are fully boosted, healthy, over-50 adults (so 5 MRNA shots each). For the first time in 2.5 years, we went to an indoor event unmasked, 3 weeks after receiving our bivalent booster. My husband now has COVID (still testing positive after 10 days), and he passed it onto one of our kids, who is also fully boosted. Both are isolating, trying to keep the rest of the family safe. New variant? Bad luck? No idea, but I’m really disappointed AND angry that we took off our masks, thinking it would be ok—at least initially, freshly boosted. Public health messaging stinks…the pandemic is not over. it’s a huge inconvenience at the very least to catch this thing, and worrisome, wondering if long COVID will also be an issue now, too.
Teesh (Brooklyn)
@MAMom Sorry they're sick, but people getting sick (but being okay) doesn't mean the pandemic isn't over.
JE (CT)
@MAMom From your experience it would seem to me that the question is why are people getting shots? After 5(!) shots you almost immediately contracted the virus from simply removing your mask? Why is this shot called a vaccine anymore? My inference from your story is that it's the masks that saved you previously - certainly not the shots. So do you want to make that the public message?
Reasonable Person (Boston)
Please tell us what’s worse: getting COVID, or orienting your entire life around avoiding COVID.
Bg (USA)
I some people just don't get it! Had to report a Home health aide whi consistently didn't want to wear her mask around a sick relative! She blew a great case. low maintained clean home a sweet patient who was too kind. This isn't a reflection of aides. Generally they do a great service. Very appreciative, but the few who don't find other employment please. Again she doesn't represent the majority, all it takes is one cough or sneeze.
Teesh (Brooklyn)
Two things: 1.) RSV has, for the entirety of the pandemic, been much more likely to kill kids than Covid, by several orders of magnitude. It was actually a big tell: people who never worried about RSV before started absolutely losing their minds about the much smaller chance of a child dying of Covid (what it revealed being that what was scary was Something New, not an objective risk level). 2.) Is it not striking to anyone else that these two long-existent respiratory viruses, the flu and RSV, are about to have their "best" year in a very long time after two years of people allowing (or, really, forcing) their immune systems to atrophy by avoiding as much exposure to pathogens as possible? The only longterm way to avoid that would be to mask and avoid indoor gatherings FOREVER, and anyone who thinks that practical or desirable is confused on a number of levels.
JSD (Vancouver Island)
@Teesh You cannot bully these viruses into submission by simply telling everybody just to suck it up and get infected. The viruses kill people, good people.
Teesh (Brooklyn)
@JSD I'm not sure where you got from my comment that I was trying to bully viruses. And I know the virus kills people. I've seen it. That doesn't change what I said at all.
Teesh (Brooklyn)
@JSD Additionally, I had to watch my mom die of pancreatic cancer, something that is actually a death sentence, from a thousand miles away, without saying goodbye, because of covid precautions. So you'll understand, I hope, if I don't see something that is 1/200th as likely to kill someone as that disease as being worth the rending of society.
JJ (New York)
My kid got the flu (most likely from school) and gave it to everyone in the family. The one person that didn't have anything more than a "runny nose" was the person who got their flu shot last month. I usually wait to get it in October since it usually peaks in middle of winter- but this year is different. I never want to have the flu illness like this again!! Get your Flu shots NOW and every year. Going forward, I am getting it every September and yes I am also going to get the covid booster. if flu feels like this without the flu shot immunity then I don't want to know what covid feels like without the bivalent booster.
northlander (Michigan)
Had Covid, but this RSV is a whole different beast. Very quick with a cough that is really persistent.
berman (Orlando)
@northlander How did you know it’s RSV? Blood test?
Essential Vaccines (US)
Essential vaccination for infants and young children like DTaP, polio, MMR were long accepted by most Americans. Annual flu vaccination was also widely accepted. Now more parents have become skeptical of all vaccines. Due to internal politicalization of the CDC, through two different political federal administrations, and arbitrary policies that were not supported by data and evidence, the public trust has plummeted. Now CDC seeks to equate Covid vaccination on the same level of necessity as the pediatric DTaP, polio, MMR vaccines. Most people know by now that young children have always been at low risk of severe Covid symptoms, and most people know by now that Covid vaccination does not prevent transmission of Covid. The low uptake of pediatric Covid boosters is not a tragedy, but if the public begins to doubt the need for the truly essential pediatric vaccines, then that would be a tragedy. Every winter, pediatric hospitals see kids in distress with flu and RSV. Our pediatric hospital has been dealing with RSV all summer and that is continuing. Unseasonable and concerning. Get your kids their full schedule of vaccines, including flu, but Covid vaccination for little kids is not essential. RSV testing is excellent, please get your little ones tested if they show symptoms.
JK (NY)
To all the 'lucky' ones that still don't realize the virtues of vaccination and social distancing: The odds of you dying from COVID is exponentially higher than winning the Lotto (~292 mil. to 1). The odds of you winning the Lotto is infinitely higher if you are alive (vs. dead). If not for yourselves, do it for your loved ones.
Max (NYC)
"and raising concern that hospitals could again be strained this winter." I am tiring of this trope. Covid isn't quite dangerous enough for continued worry on an individual basis. So let's shift the fear to hospital capacity. But it is not the public's responsibility to make life easier for hospitals. As the Times has reported in the past, nurses are overworked and underpaid because hospitals keep them on "flex time" to save money. As for beds, there is a hopelessly bloated bureaucracy keeping hospitals from transferring and directing patients to where the vacancies are. Enough. Hospitals have had nearly 3 years to adjust to the new reality of increased respiratory illness. Hospitals serve the public, not the other way around.
Martha (NYC)
This. Stop telling people to give up gatherings and to wear masks to make lives easier for healthcare providers. It's lean management and understaffing that's the problem, and that's for hospital executives to fix.
John Neumann (Allentown)
@Max No, just no. This is an incredibly selfish and short-sighted take. Are hospitals supposed to suddenly expand capacity, raising health care costs for everyone, because an irresponsible part of the population refuses to get vaccinated? In a reasonable world, people who refuse vaccinations would have to wait their turn until the vaccinated get their treatment before taking up room in hospitals. I had to forgo my winter sports and other slightly risky activities last year because I was afraid if I got injured, I wouldn't be able to access care for many hours. The overflowing hospital problem is preventable, by mandating proof of vaccination for COVID treatment.
UserNameHere (Portland, OR)
@Max yes yes yes. We’ve done what we can with Covid, and most of us are ready to move on and live our lives. We cannot protect everyone by wrapping ourselves head to toe in masks and always staying 6ft apart. Take reasonable measures like with any sickness, and don’t form a political identity out of this.
Kenny G (Brooklyn)
I live in New York City and caught Covid in September 2022 after dodging it for 2.5 years. Basically, I let my guard down and didn’t mask indoors. I thought transmission rates were low and it seemed like a good time to return to bars and restaurants unmasked. I’m also double vaxxed and boosted. Anecdotally, it is a common experience shared by neighbors. Most people you ask know someone who has it or caught it recently. So Covid is going around, despite the announced low rates.
MacMan (Larchmont, NY)
@Kenny G Did you have to go the hospital, and did you die? Otherwise this is a non-issue at they point.
Jack Pitzer (Manchester, NJ)
I dodged Covid right up until this week, and I believe I got it at a music venue where I work. I got the most recent booster 6 weeks ago so I'm in good shape at the moment, but now I regret letting my guard down and not wearing a mask. And it seems to me that virtually nobody is wearing masks at most entertainment events.
Max (NYC)
@Jack Pitzer In other words, you caught a bug and you're fine. You are welcome to take all the precautions you want. Leave the rest of us alone.
MacMan (Larchmont, NY)
@Max Exactly! Hypochondriacs used to be the word!
Anonymous (NYC)
It is impossible for NYC municipal employees to avoid crowded public places when Mayor Adams demands they be in the office 5 days a week with no WFH flexibility. The offices themselves may not be the issue—they are emptying by the day, and most offices are more akin to ghost towns than anything else—but the subway definitely is. Especially when there is no mask mandate for the subway. Every morning on my way in to work, fewer than half of all subway riders I see are wearing a mask. Officials can recommend safety measures until they run out of breath. The issue is that when push comes to shove, it’s all lip service. It’s clear that trying to entice NYC employees to buy $15 lunches and $6 coffees every day to “stimulate the economy” of the areas around their workplaces, is more important than enacting simple measure to safeguard their health. Shameful.
Arnold (Santa Monica)
Went to NE 40 days ago for fall colors touring...from L A we flew, bused, trained, cruised, taxied and flew again... The colors where great, we got covid, we new better, thanks
Marty S (Area 51)
I’ve had long Covid for two years now, making hiking or even yard work difficult. Glad you’re OK. Hope the people you were around didn’t get infected, ill, and disabled. Thanks for thinking of others, right?
Robert (NY)
@Arnold if you "new better", maybe you didn't
Arnold (Santa Monica)
@Robert...yes yes...what was new for us was to know better what we knew was new, thanks...
Stewart S. (Brooklyn)
I’ve lived in Brooklyn throughout this entire pandemic and have been one of the lucky ones to not get sick pre and post vaccine and booster. I have to admit I haven’t had a cold or been sick in years and I rarely wear a mask. I wear glasses and am claustrophobic - which makes it so I cant see because my glasses fog and like I can’t breath at the same time. All that said what I really believe has kept all illnesses away all these years is a healthy daily does of Vodka. Kills all the germs every time. And much more fun.
Robert (NY)
@Stewart S. great for the liver as well, just hope you won't need an MRI
BayDog (San Francisco)
My sister, who lives in one of the "fly over" states, got covid last week, a month after her Pfizer bivalent booster. Her doctor doesn't believe in Paxlovid, so she recommended my sister get an antibody infusion. But my sister didn't meet any of the criteria for antibody infusion. (As a side note, the doctor is affiliated with the health care system that profits from administering as many antibody infusions as possible). Worse, my sister was so weak, she couldn't drive herself to the hospital to receive an antibody infusion. I went to the "test to treat" map published by www.aspr.hhs.gov to find a local pharmacist who could prescribe Paxlovid. I called every pharmacy in town, but no luck. Either the stores had decided not to authorize their pharmacists to prescribe Paxlovid, or the pharmacist who could prescribe it was off that day. I literally spent six hours before I found a provider who could speak with my sister on the phone and prescribe Paxlovid for her. I also had to convince an instacart shopper to do a side hustle, pick up the meds, and deliver them to my sister since I live in another state. My sister was too weak to drive and shouldn't have set foot in a public space with all the covid virus she was shedding. Test to treat is the right concept, yet in many cases, it doesn't work. If I hadn't spent six hours fighting to get my sister Paxlovid, she would have given up and might have ended up in the hospital or worse. The winter tsunami is coming!
Jennifer (NY)
@BayDog I recently had COVID after dodging it completely since the pandemic started. I wasn't eligible for Paxlovid as I hadn't had routine blood work in the last 6 months. I took the alternate antiviral, Lagevrio (molnupiravir), and symptoms abated quickly. I tested negative and returned to work on day 6, only to have a rebound case start on day 7. I had a "mild" case, but I wouldn't wish that headache and body aches and night of fever and vomiting on my worst enemy. I've had 3 unmedicated childbirths, and that night was as intense as birthing, if not more so.
MD Daniel (Los Angeles)
The use of the term “flyover states” is demeaning and unnecessarily inflammatory. FDA still has specific criteria for Paxlovid eligibility and it is not clear from what you say whether your sister meets them or not. Regardless, if we all stop being so contemptuous of others, society would be in a better place.
gw (usa)
@MD Daniel - excellent comment, thank you. If coastal liberals are of such superior intellect, why don't they see how they have fed MAGA? Their arrogance works against their own best interests, and us all. As for Paxlovid....the criteria specifies eligibilty for those 65 or older, or with a serious pre-existing condition. Use outside the criteria would probably be a doctor's decision, not a pharmacist.
Andrew (Philadelphia)
It will never end UNLESS an actual cure is developed and enough people take it. Sadly, that's very unlikely. The good news is that, at least so far, severe illness isn't a big concern to those who are fully vaccinated and boosted. That is what keeps my concerns under control and allows me to live pretty much as I did pre-Covid, with some minor changes, of course.
Marty S (Area 51)
Generally, we can’t “cure” viral infections. We can shorten their duration or decrease their severity (if caught soon enough). But they’re not bacteria, which we can cure with antibiotics. So, the best thing is prevention: mechanical things like distance, covering your face with your sleeve when you cough/sneeze, and even a PROPERLY WORN adequate face mask; also, getting your flu shot and your Covid shot are good things. Don’t listen to the obviously Russian/Chinese social media propaganda about how we shouldn’t protect ourselves or listen to experts trained in this sort of thing. They managed to talk us into killing almost a million Americans without firing a shot. Well done, comrades.
AS (USA)
Too many unknowns for me to remove this mask in public spaces. Also, too many mixed messages out of the CDC and government officials to grasp what lies ahead. That said, what I do know is that no one knows what lies ahead, so I will err on the side of caution on this one. I am grateful we had the vaccines. Take care everyone!
Ann (NYC)
@AS I wear a N95 everywhere I go. I avoid crowded places, and still do grocery deliveries and pickups to avoid small stores. I still got COVID. The problem is others not wearing their masks, though I'll still wear one in case it provides even a small bit of protection.
Ryan Bobo (New York)
…or is it that those restrictions you’ve placed on yourself don’t actually help?
Karen G (Washington, DC area)
@JE, interesting comment. Are you saying that studies about efficacy of high quality masks are flawed, or that it’s all a lie intended to deceive people into wearing face masks? Guessing it’s the latter.
Rain Parade (San Francisco)
**News flash** People sometimes get sick and die.
Phillip Roncoroni (New York, NY)
@Rain Parade If only there were some easy to use mitigations one could do, like, I don't know, getting vaccinated and boosted, and wearing a mask to reduce that risk? Hmm.
Ryan Bobo (New York)
Phillip, do those things when there is solid data showing that they help, feel free not to when there is not. Real science got me this far. I plan to keep following it. Never went for talismans like a horseshoe or lucky rabbit’s foot or mask. I know some people think you just have to believe something works for it to work, but that’s not how science works.
Ann (NYC)
@Rain Parade Right, but what is the harm in wearing a mask to avoid potential illness and death? It's the simplest thing to do.
Seth (Westport, CT)
Covid is everywhere around me. My Entire street is sick and all the children are coughing all the adults are spaced out sick- everybody. What's concerning is the lack of testing - on an informal poll I took of 20 of my sick friends and neighbors only about 1/4 are getting official tests. The CDC isn't tracking. Very very concerning
Jeda (Oregon)
People should report home test results to their state public health departments, if the option is available—it is in Oregon but most people just test and move on. CDC can only collect what gets passed on to them, and incomplete reporting leads to inaccurate charts.
Marty S (Area 51)
Tracking has to be passive, not active. Think of the people who did home Covid tests but didn’t report to someone official - so never recorded anywhere. So they measure it in the sewer effluent. Scientists are sneaky, but intent on learning what’s really going on so they can help others, even those who think they’re liars or shills. SMH
jesse riley (little rock)
I hope that NYC will not again become a stalking-horse, but I suppose hinterlanders like me will get the heads-up sign, sadly, at the expense of more densely urban areas.
SpartacusNJ (6th)
Just got my flu shot. Normally I wait to mid November, about 2 weeks before TG (and family gatherings), to get a flu shot. But the flu is moving faster than I expected this year. It is already "moderate" in my area. The CDC has a weekly colorized map, which I find useful. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/usmap.htm More detailed information here https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm As I see it, based on a very tiny number of tests, it appears that the vaccine is a good match for the current dominant strain (H3N2, ~75+%). I'm no expert - we'll have to see how things turn out when things really get rolling. Just my opinion.
Karen G (Washington, DC area)
@SpartacusNJ, thanks for the links! The CDC info about the seasonal flu is very helpful. Unfortunately, many people have “learned” from their preferred news sources and social media to distrust public health information.
sophie tucker (sliver springs)
yeah, well, what did you expect?. No mitigation policies. Talk of Covid is a 3rd rail for the midterms. And Congress has not agreed on additional funding for the Covid pandemic. It appears when you attempt to actually fight one disease, it can help mitigate other diseases that are spread by the same mode of transmission., This is where we're at and this is where we'll be for a looong time. Too many people just don't care.
Anon (NYC)
It's impossible to avoid crowded situations when you have to ride the subway to work. Approximately 5% of the passengers are masked. This morning, someone behind me was sniffling with tissue in hand- maskless.
Ryan Bobo (New York)
Funny, and yet you’re fine.
Emily (New York)
Why people want to get sick with any of these viruses is beyond me. But you really can’t teach stupid. I never pass up a chance to be vaccinated and I’m still wearing an N95 whenever I am indoors. I also don’t eat inside restaurants, it’s outdoors or take out.
chalet boucles d'or (Geneva Switzerland)
@Emily I would rather take my chances than live such a circumscribed life.
Brody (NYC)
@Emily To each their own, but for Pete's sake, are you going to live like that for the rest of your life? What is your off-ramp?
raymond frederick (sunnyside nyc)
@Brody what a burden to have to wear a mask amongst large groups of people indoors & have the availability of a vaccine that has proven to be effective with minimal risk
Jesse Tal (NYC)
If we could just get everyone to wear masks for a month, this would be a non-issue.
TW (Oakland)
@Jesse Tal Yeo that is all it took for China to be Covid free. So simple. /s
John D (Ohio)
@Jesse Tal Sure it would be a non-issue. Keep believing that.
Brian in FL (Florida)
@Jesse Tal yes that old 2 weeks to flatten the curve, eh!
Ryan Bobo (New York)
Entirely predictable, and predicted by people who kept a clear head rather than use covid as a reason to freak out, or pretend to freak out to draw attention to themselves, get clicks, or get on TV. And they now say that the solution to an immune system that has been weakened by isolation and masks is more isolation and masks? When will they ever learn? Here’s the solution. Get out and about. Let your kids play. Everyone will get a bit sick at first and then you’ll be fine. As it ever has been. Spoiler alert - we’ll all be fine.
Dr. Herbert Ross (Lyme, CT.)
@Ryan Bobo Immune system weakened by isolation and masks? 1million + deaths from COVID due not to isolation but to exposure. Sure, kids need to play, but RSV is no joke. It can kill kids esp. those under 5. There is no vaccine and no proven antiviral. Pediatric wards are choked with sick kids. How easy it is to trivialize that about which you apparently know precious little.
Don (Manhattan)
@Ryan Bobo Except for those who won't "be fine."
Concerned (RI)
Except if you die from either Covid or Flu. I’ve heard it happens.
Nathan Newman (Manhattan)
this idea of the common good is a fantasy and always has been. Its America. Individual freedoms and liberties. You look out for yourself and your own. You may not like that and I may not either but thats the way it is and always has been. Anything else youre just kidding yourself.
AKJersey (New Jersey)
Everyone should get the latest COVID booster and the flu vaccine.
mythocracy (indoctrinated)
oh! well, when wearing a mask is seen as taboo..
Eddy (Oakland CA)
Go get your flu vaccines folks...
Mike L (South Carolina)
Time to stop running away from what is essentially the flu now. The more of us that catch Covid then the more herd immunity we will have.
Ana Boz (Denver)
I have many friends who have had Covid twice, so far, so good luck with that herd immunity idea.
Phillip Roncoroni (New York, NY)
@Mike L Where are the tens of millions diagnosed with "long flu?" Not to mention the higher death rate per capita for COVID.
Ryan Bobo (New York)
Phillip yes! Long flu is just as real as long covid. Why won’t anyone use that to try to drive clicks and scare people??
Dan S (Brooklyn NY)
I understand why people don't wear masks at bars, shows, etc. It's no fun and we all have to live a little. But I can't comprehend why 80% of subway riders won't wear a mask, even when the train is packed. It's the lowest-hanging fruit and it's not like the subway is less fun wearing a mask!
Brody (NYC)
@Dan S Why? Because in the face of overwhelming evidence that the vaccines do not prevent transmission, people know that it is impossible to avoid getting Covid unless you live as a hermit. And the vast majority have already had Covid at least once at this point. Add to that the vaccines and boosters which have lessened the severity of infections, and you can see why wearing masks serve little purpose anymore other than delaying the inevitable next mild Covid infection.
Ryan Bobo (New York)
Same reason I don’t wear one anywhere else. It’s uncomfortable and doesn’t help anything.
Irene Brophy (CT)
@Brody By "inevitable next mild Covid infection," are you referring to the 400+ U.S. citizens a day who are dying from Covid? Your argument that it's not useful to wear a mask because "vaccines do not prevent transmission" is spurious: in fact, N-95s are very good at preventing transmission, so people on the subway most certainly should be wearing N-95s.
Real Observer (Ca)
The body fights off viruses like flu by producing more antibodies. When we mask and social distance, there are far fewer virus concentrations for the body to fight, assuming the mask is not contaminated, and the body produces fewer antibodies, weakening our immunity. When we are unmasked and get exposed to viruses after that, we get more severely ill than otherwise because the virus attacks defenseless body cells in the lungs, nose, ears, throat and body. If we don't mask at all, it is even worse. We could contract covid,and worse, long covid. So masking and social distancing is the lesser evil. If you travel to Asia and the middle east,there are all kinds of viruses that are going around that can make you very sick. They can cause uncontrollable coughing, body pain, fever and fatigue for a month. With some luck, an antibiotic like erythromicin will work.We don't want to think about what will happen if we are out of luck.
CB (New York)
@Real Observer no, erythromycin wouldn't work on a viral infection because erythromycin is an antibiotic, and antibiotics do not kill viruses.
E. (Atlanta)
you really think you can fight viruses with an antibiotic?
Mare (MA)
My husband and I have been sick for a week with flu-like symptoms and have tested negative for covid and flu A and B. We're both in our 60s, fully vaxed and boosted for covid and flu. I wonder: are there new variants of flu and covid that are undetected by current tests?
Jan (Queens)
@Mare Might you have Lyme? It presents like flu, and this is the season when ticks are active, one of the seasons.
A (Queens)
After having a high fever for most of yesterday, but testing negative on 3 home tests, I went in to get a flu & COVID pcr swab this morning. Flu negative, COVID positive. Really concerned me that I was so symptomatic and yet nothing showed on a rapid test.
AS (USA)
@Mare I have friends in your age group diagnosed with RSV
VK (Manhattan, NY)
Home test kits were useful at a point in time but given their relatively low accuracy rates and wide availability of more accurate PCR testing, I wish more people would rely less on at home kits. As for masks, I was hoping that at least in NYC, people would learn to appreciate the protective power of masks during the cold and flu season. I used to fly every week for work and masks saved me from picking up germs of fellow passengers. In fact, I was one of the few non-medical professionals who had plenty of masks on hand when covid first broke out...
firlfriend (usa)
@VK I still wear a mask anyplace I have to go inside. Lesser of the two evils. I am almost seventy. Grocery store, bank. etc.
Deb (US)
Due to a severe reaction to the first set of COVID vaccines (I have autoimmune issues so do not react well to vaccines sometimes, there is nothing wrong with the vaccine), I am unable, at my doctor's advice to get boosted. My husband is fully boosted and has gotten his flu shot. We also have never stopped wearing N-95 masks, even in outdoor areas. Yes, sometimes in the heat of the summer the masks can be a bit uncomfortable when you are sweating, but it is still better than the misery of COVID or the flu.
sophie tucker (sliver springs)
@Deb As the article states "While getting boosted does not eliminate the risk of getting Covid it can reduce the likelihood", How does that work? either the vaccine protects against getting Covid or it does not. this ambiguous language is confusing and unhelpful...
TP (New York)
@sophie This is actually how most vaccines work, including the shingles and flu vaccines, but due to widespread vaccination and low circulating levels if disease. Transmission (getting infected) and disease (how sick you will get-it’s a spectrum) are two different processes that often take place in entirely different parts of the body. This us especially true with SARS-CoV-2 and COVID. The vaccines help your immune system recognize the virus so it can prepare a very specialized army of cells and respond to prevent a severe disease process or death. To prevent transmission we need vaccines that are inhaled and prevent the virus from entering through cells in the respiratory tract.
A Feng (Oakland)
Sophie, the vaccine is not a silver bullet- it primes your immune system to recognize the virus and mount a defense, which in some individuals won't be fast/strong enough to prevent infection but will still result in getting less sick, and with less risk of long covid, than if unvaccinated or unboosted. At age 70 that's an important part of my risk calculation along with masking in crowded places
fred (Columbus)
Folks pay more attention to Kanye (who I've hardly even heard of) and the Kardashians than public health issues and collective responsibilities. We're just going to repeat the crisis all over again. When will we learn?
MRW (Berkeley CA)
I'm a pediatrician in California. In my 30 years of practice, I've never seen RSV season so bad. In my pediatric practice, usually it's only babies and toddlers, or kids with asthma, who get very sick with this. But now I'm seeing older kids who aren't asthmatic with significant lower respiratory symptoms--severe cough and prolonged fever--even if they don't need hospitalization. We're seeing more pneumonias even in the older kids. I hate to think how this will affect the elderly who are also very vulnerable. Masking will help protect your family from this illness, too, not just COVID. I know everyone is sick of COVID-type precautions, but please keep them up!
CO (Brooklyn)
Same here in Brooklyn. Six weeks ago our son developed a severe cough which very suddenly turned into wheezing and difficulty breathing. Two more episodes since and he’s not asthmatic. Would recommend any parent of young children to get a pulse oximeter which has been invaluable at detecting problems swiftly.
TW (Oakland)
@MRW I think it’s actually the opposite - for two years we were subjected to lower exposures to flu and other respiratory diseases. Our immune systems weren’t tested, and grew weaker. Young kids didn’t build their natural immune systems at all. I had my worse flu ever this year and my worst cold - right after masks came off in the kids school. Now that masks are off we need time to (re)build our natural immunities. But yes, masking and social distancing forever would be an alternative but one that very few are interested in taking.
Mare (MA)
@MRW We will! Haven't those of us who are older (60ish) developed immunity to RSV?
Alec (NYC)
New mandates will have no effect. For the most part, people are doing what is best for them, and it's something I've come to live with. Does it bother me that I'm in a decided minority on the subway still wearing a mask. Yes. But I've gone from initially being frustrated by it to resolved to it is what it is. I've had all my boosters, but here come more variants, so I hope the shots will protect me somewhat. My logic says that if the strangers close around me on the subway are unmasked, how do I know they're not positive and just not know it? Or these days, perhaps they do know and just don't care. I feel the mask must be doing some good in those cases. As well as in other crowded public places where I keep it on. Why take a chance on getting sick? So, while I'm not bolting myself in my apartment (I've been in my office 5 days a week since August 2020), I'm doing my best to live my life as before, but to also take some precautions depending on the situation. I don't feel that's too much of an imposition on me. If I'm wrong, so be it, but as I said, everyone is doing what is good for them. As long as everyone leaves each other alone. We have enough animosity in society right now.
Julie (Atlanta)
@Alec I respect your comment, and I respect even more your last paragraph.
Nathan Newman (Manhattan)
@Alec "Or these days, perhaps they do know and just don't care." ppl are sick say its just a cold and dont even bother testing. I know of a few instances of this personally.
Timothy Anderson (CA)
@Alec Good thinking and actions. That's my attitude also.
GerardM (New Jersey)
Covid has not gone away. Six months ago there were about 2600 weekly deaths from Covid, which is the same as we are seeing this week in the US. In the EU, Germany, France and Italy are seeing significant increases in hospitalization and deaths from Covid. Past experience tells us that what happens in the EU will occur here soon. The way things are now in this country the response to the rise in the threat from Covid will not elicit a communal one, but an individual one. Almost everyone by now has decided what level of protection, or lack of it, they will tolerate and, short of another Omicron type surge as we had last Winter, that is bound to continue.
Ryan Bobo (New York)
Those are hospitalizations and deaths incidentally with covid, not due to covid. The hospitalizations and deaths due to covid are pretty rare now. You can rest easy, my friend.
SooS (NJ)
@GerardM COVID will never go away, just like the Flu and RSV don't go away.
John D (Ohio)
@SooS Exactly. The genie is out of the bottle. We are not going to mask forever. Both natural immunity and better treatment options is what is needed. Not more vaccines that lose their strength after a few weeks.
Been There (Upstate)
During the worst of the pandemic Americans were tested on whether or not we believed in and supported the common good. Would we all get vaxxed and wear masks to avoid getting the virus or transmitting it to one another if we had it? Many did but more did not including a President who sullied public health measures and science every time he had the chance (although science saved his life when he got Covid). We are now at a point where when one gets on a plane we are told not to hassle fellow travelers about their mask preference. The flight attendants don't want to have to break up fights over fly over country. That is who we are.
Nick (NJ)
@Been There, This isn't just a problem with the United States. Other than China, no other country's citizens are wearing masks anymore.
Lokabe (ny)
@Been There Sadly, yes it is. Gone is the country who came together after 9/11 when attacked by foreign terrorists. They shrug their shoulders when attacked by domestic terrorists . Both factions wanting to destroy democracy. A fellow upstater surrounded by the shoulder shruggers.
NgHai (Vermont)
When I was in Japan pre-pandemic many people wore masks on public transit—and still do.
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