A Snapshot of Where We’re at with COVID


Alexandra Schajer, Editorial Board

All the facts about the recent spread and mask wearing.

As is well-known now, the past two years have been consumed by a global pandemic. The Coronavirus, or COVID 19, made its first appearance on December 12, 2019. Since then, cases have greatly spiraled to over 393 million cases worldwide, 76 million cases in the US, 4 million cases in New York State, and almost 23,000 cases in just Putnam County. The US has the leading number of cases in the world, with India coming in second for 42 million cases.
Numbers seemed to diminish this summer, and we were attempting to reach a certain sense of normalcy. While masks were still a requirement, things seemed to be calming down a bit. However, this course took a change around Christmas break when the new Omicron variant hit. Omicron spread everywhere, and it seemed like everyone got sick from it. On December 29, 2021, Putnam County had an extremely high number of over 600 new cases, which is about 150 over a 7-day average.
Omicron is a variant of SARS-CoV-2 which was first introduced in South Africa on November 24, 2021. Omicron spreads more easily than the original COVID-19 Delta strain. It can be spread whether you’re unvaccinated or vaccinated and may show few if any symptoms. However, despite the symptoms being much less severe than past variants, they could still be severe in unique scenarios. Some common symptoms of Omicron include a runny nose, headache, sore throat, fatigue, and light-headedness with some citing fever and chills. Many schools (mainly colleges) even went remote once again, for a short period of time during the outbreak over December and January.
Nevertheless, with vaccines being lowered to ages as young as 5, and accessible booster shots being administered and provided to many, cases seem to be decreasing again back to where we almost were during the summer. And now, with more and more vaccines being administered, it’s being questioned whether or not masking should even be implemented into our schools anymore, or if we should just discontinue the rule altogether. After the case filing where mask mandates were considered unconstitutional, some schools lifted the mandate, while other schools will continue to enforce the mandate, at least until further rulings, which may come at the end of February. As of the writing of this article, New York Governor Kathy Hochul has lifted the state mandate for businesses and workplaces. So, until there’s been a final decision, masks will still be enforced and mandatory to wear in schools.
After this awful time where many were affected from COVID over winter break, it finally seems like there’s a downward trend of these cases. In mid-January, the number of U.S. daily cases were at the high number of 800,000, but have since decreased to around 225,000 daily cases. Yet, even though our numbers have been decreasing, we still have a very high number of cases today, and daily deaths maintain a daily 2,500 average.
The good news: COVID-19 specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci seems to have confidence that the United States is moving in “the right direction,” and that cases will fall after this recent increase. Our spread and number of cases seem to match with other locations as well, such as Britain and South Africa, which shows promise that there will soon be a turn around in numbers.