Major Lockdowns Could Be Coming Back After Latest Discovery

Recent surges in cases in New York City and across the state may be due to two new sub-variants of the Omicron BA.2 ‘stealth’ variant discovered in New York.

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There has been some easing of most pandemic restrictions, including mask and vaccine requirements, and many Americans are beginning to return to their routines, but some experts believe it is still too early to consider the pandemic over.

America’s Covid emergency declaration has also been extended until July by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

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The state of New York reported the detection of BA.2.12 and BA.2.12.1 on Wednesday. When compared to BA.2, these strains grow at a rate of approximately 25 percent faster. This type of case is similar to the ‘stealth’ variant, which is responsible for 80 percent of cases throughout the state.

According to officials, they have not yet found evidence that these strains are more severe than prior versions of BA.2, or as a whole the Omicron variant.

The number of cases across the country remained around 30,000 over the past month, and this week it surpassed 39,000 a day. As a result of its dense population, New York City experiences large case upticks ahead of the rest of the country. Over the past two weeks, infection rates rose by more than 60 percent.

Though New York may be able to survive these two new swine flu strains, the constant advent of new strains – and new threats – has some experts weary, even as the number of cases continues to decline and many Americans prepare to return to normal life.

‘We may be done with the virus, but the virus isn’t done with us,’ University of Minnesota epidemiologist Michael Osterholm said to UPI.

‘It is clear with the emergence of new variants that this virus isn’t going to go away and become dormant anytime soon.’

Due to Covid’s ability to mutate, it presents an ever-evolving threat to Americans. In the past year, vaccines and treatments have had to be updated multiple times.

Americans, as well as people around the world, are fortunate that the most recent version of the virus that has swept the globe has been milder than previous versions.

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In late 2021, after rising to prominence, the Omicron variant led to far fewer hospitalizations and deaths than its predecessor, the Delta variant.

The disease is also highly contagious, and it completely eradicated the more dangerous strain from India. CDC data indicates that every sequenced case in the United States is caused by the variant.

The ‘stealth’ strain of BA.2, which has taken over from BA.2, makes up 86 percent of those cases.

Covid cases have not changed much at all since BA.1 has been replaced by BA.2, with daily counts in America still in the 30,000s – the level they have stayed at for much of the last month.

By Thursday morning, the country had an average of 39,441 cases each day. Also, the death rate has remained low, with 535 deaths on average per day being the lowest since August.

Since cases have dropped, the severity of the virus has been lessened, and COVID-19 vaccines are widely available, many people are already ignoring the pandemic and going about their daily lives.

It has been the WHO, which has provided a more cautious view of the pandemic, that warns the virus remains a widespread public health emergency that everyone should worry about.

During a Wednesday press conference, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke.

‘Far from being the time to drop our guard, this is the moment to work even harder to save lives,’ Ghebreyesus said.

‘Specifically, this means investing so that Covid-19 tools are equitably distributed, and we simultaneously strengthen health systems.’

‘It’s always easier to declare a pandemic than undeclare one,’ Dr. Didier Houssin, a WHO official, stated at the meeting.

At the HHS as well, officials do not appear to be ready to forget about the virus. On Thursday, the state of emergency in relation to the pandemic was extended into July, thus preventing its lapse on April 16.

It is well known that certain regulations associated with medical care are lifted during a state of emergency, and Medicaid is not allowed anymore to drop people from its pool of clients.

The recent uptick in cases in over half of the states of the United States also has some American citizens fearing that the pandemic may drag on for longer than expected. The investigation is underway, but it’s not known if this is the end of the pandemic.

Any reimplementation of pandemic restrictions or lockdowns would surely have a dire effect on an already beleaguered economy as Americans try to deal with skyrocketing food and fuel prices, not to mention declining wages in the face of historic inflation rates.

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Ray Dalio, the billionaire hedge fund founder, claims the US economy is heading toward stagflation similar to that of the 1970s.

‘I think that most likely what we’re going to have is a period of stagflation. And then you have to understand how to build a portfolio that’s balanced for that kind of an environment,’ Dalio said in an interview with Yahoo Finance.

Stagflation is defined as high inflation accompanied by an economic slowdown and increased unemployment — an unusual combination that took place in the U.S. during the 1970s when oil crises and failed monetary policy destroyed the economy.

‘The past is a guide to what’s happening now,’ stated Dalio, who founded Bridgewater Associates. ‘The environment that we’re in is beginning to be very much like that of the 1970s.’