Dear USET/USET SPF Family,
The USET TEC is committed to promoting quick and responsive alerts concerning potential public health risks to USET member Tribal Nations. This includes clarifying media outlet information to bring forth relevant public health knowledge.
Media outlets have recently published reports of a COVID-19 hospitalization surge and a new Omicron variant, EG.5. USET TEC's observation of these reports, as it pertains to the USET region, indicates that the surge is not of high alert at this time. Nevertheless, we will continue to monitor the data trends and provide pertinent information.
This programmatic alert offers background to the media descriptions of the COVID-19 hospitalization surge and new variant.
Rise in Hospitalizations
- There has been a 14.3% increase in hospitalizations since last week as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Hospitalizations rose from 9,026 last week to 10,320 persons this week nationwide.
- For comparison, at the height of the Omicron surge, the nationwide weekly hospitalization rate was 38.4 admissions per 100,000 people, and it is currently at 3.11 admissions per 100,000 people.
- There has been no change in death rate.
New Variant EG.5
There have been no reports of increased disease severity with this variant and the WHO has stated the public health risk of EG.5 is currently low.
- The CDC and The World Health Organization (WHO) have been monitoring EG.5, an offshoot of the dominant XBB Omicron sub variant of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 disease.
- On August 9, 2023, the WHO declared EG.5 as a variant of interest (VOI).
- A VOI is declared if the variant has specific characteristics that can cause an increased risk to the public.
- In this case, EG.5 displays the characteristics of a VOI in terms of increased transmission and immune escape capabilities, meaning future cases can be caused by this variant and current vaccines might be less effective.
- EG.5 is the leading variant in new infections at 17.3% but estimates of this variant have only been seen in less than 4,000 gene sequences from polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests nationwide that were reported to labs in the past few weeks.
- The WHO continues to track this variant and we will provide updates as more information becomes available
What to do now?
Data reflects that AI/AN people are at higher risk of complications from COVID-19. USET TEC recommends vulnerable populations begin to consider or continue to exercise COVID-19 precautions. This includes:
- Be up to date with vaccines and/or COVID-19 boosters.
- If unvaccinated, consider vaccination for the upcoming fall season.
- Practice social distancing measures.
- Wearing a mask in crowded public spaces.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and discard immediately after use.
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Be on the lookout for COVID-19 signs and symptoms: Fever or chills, cough, fatigue, muscle or body aches, and difficulty breathing.
- Self-test if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and/or get PCR lab tests via medical programs.
- Take isolation precautions if testing positive.
- Observe COVID-19 protocols.
For additional information or for clinical guidance, please see the sources below. The USET TEC is available to assist with any questions or concerns. Please do not hesitate to contact us at email@example.com.
CDC COVID Data Tracker
CDC Data Tracker: Published SARS-CoV-2 Sequences
CDC COVID Hospitalization and Deaths
CDC Weekly Variant Estimates
WHO EG.5 VOI Designation and Risk
USET Office Updated COVID Protocols
Current Interim COVID-19 Immunization Schedule
Stay Up to Date with CVOID-19 Vaccines
Signs and Symptoms of COVID-19
MMWR COVID-19 Hospitalizations