Winter COVID-19 Surge 

Addie Mount, Staff Writer

After years of pandemic life, restrictions, and repetitive headlines, it is easy to disregard newer headlines like ‘Winter Surge Hits the U.S.’ or talk of a ‘triple epidemic’ this winter. According to The Atlantic, “A confluence of factors has created the ideal conditions for a sustained surge with serious consequences for those who get sick. Fading immunity, frustratingly low booster uptake, and the near-total abandonment of COVID precautions create ideal conditions for the virus to spread.” With this on top of the large spread of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza this winter, it is safe to say many people will be sick at least once over the next few months. Travel over breaks will also be a contributing factor to this surge, as airlines no longer require masks, and it is easy to ignore the reality that we are still in a pandemic, even though it is less threatening than it used to be.  

Junior Genesis Lwin shares the personal precautions she is taking this winter: “I especially wear a mask when I am on a plane or feel that there are a lot of sick individuals around, in addition to washing my hands or using hand sanitizer frequently.” While masks can seem like a nuisance when we are so used to them being optional, it is a good precaution to take on public transportation or in highly crowded areas. 

Many experts claim that winter surges like this will be the new norm in the coming years, but if people take actions to protect themselves, they will be less intense and have lower death tolls. According to CNN, The Biden administration’s renewed push to encourage people to use all of the necessary tools available to keep Covid-19 at bay – getting vaccinated and boosted, making use of tests and treatments and masking up when necessary.” The number of patients refusing prescription drugs to fight against COVID has also increased. According to The Atlantic, “Paxlovid is still effective, but it’s underprescribed by providers and, by one medical director’s estimate, refused by 20 to 30 percent of patients.” 

Another phenomenon contributing to the spread of RSV and influenza is the infant and child Advil shortage. Brands like Motrin, Tylenol, and Advil have all experienced an unprecedented shortage this winter. Without child fever and pain reducers, many children have had worsened symptoms and been sick for longer periods of time. The prices of these medicines have also greatly increased, making it less accessible to many families.  

It can feel like contracting COVID at this point in the pandemic is not a big deal, but in the long run, more cases cause the formation of new variants, and the virus will continue to mutate and spread. The pandemic still is very real and severe to high-risk individuals, and if we take precautions like getting boosters and wearing masks while traveling, we make it a little easier for them to be in the world in a more normal manner. This not only applies to people with high-risk family members or friends, but everyone. If we do nothing to protect ourselves, the cyclical winters of increased infection will likely take years to lessen.