As COVID-19 surges, health officials urge people to wear masks again

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(CNN) – With COVID-19 cases on the rise, you might want to consider masking up.

Nationwide, more than 100,000 new cases have been reported every day for the past two weeks, but experts say that number may actually be higher.

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that about a third of the U.S. population now lives in a county with a “high COVID-19 community level,” meaning the agency recommends universal indoor masking.

Counties from coast to coast are on the list, including New York, which was a 2020 pandemic hotspot.

“Our goal is to make sure that whatever we put in place is going to stem infections, reduce hospitalizations, and most importantly, reduce those dying from COVID,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams.

Johns Hopkins University reports that new cases of COVID-19 are slowly increasing, including 108,000 new cases reported every day for the past two weeks. That’s a 6% increase from the previous two weeks.

The spread of COVID-19 is also causing concern in Los Angeles County, California.

“This seems more likely as cases and admissions have continued to increase and will enter the high community level designation later this month,” said Barbara Ferre, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. .

Health experts warn that data on rising COVID-19 cases may not tell the whole story due to the widespread use of home testing kits.

“On the honor system, if you test positive you don’t show up, so it doesn’t show up in the data. There is definitely more out there,” said the executive director of the Committee for the Protection of Health Care, Dr. Rob Davidson.

A recent preprint study based on Veterans Administration health records shows that catching COVID-19 over and over again appears to increase a person’s chance of experiencing new and sometimes lasting health problems after infection. .

People who had two or more documented infections had more than twice the risk of dying and three times the risk of being hospitalized within six months of their last infection.

On the vaccine front, the White House said Thursday that only about 2% of children under age 5 have received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Food and Drug Administration on June 17 issued emergency use authorization for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for this age group.

The two omicron subvariants the CDC cites as the cause of the recent surge may partially evade immunity produced by COVID-19 vaccines and past infections, but experts say current vaccines and boosters offer protection substantial against serious diseases.

The World Health Organization says there has been no increase in intensive care unit admissions in vulnerable groups who have been vaccinated and boosted.

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