A New COVID Normal for D.C.?

After a few weeks of data, it looks like D.C. (and neighborhood Alexandria, VA) have hit a plateau in terms of COVID wastewater concentrations. The good news is we had a decline last week. The bad news is the new normal is about 5.5 times higher than it was in mid-June three months ago. Here’s D.C.:

Screenshot 2023-09-16 at 9.55.03 AM

Here’s Alexandria, VA:

For context, the maximal concentrations for Alexandria and D.C. during the January 2023 peak were 1,306 and 1,222 respectively, while the current values are 676 and 542 respectively, so we’re at 45-50% of the January peak. That possibly* translates into about 1.0-1.5% of people who are currently infected.

Hopefully, this is a leveling off, leading to a decline, and perhaps the new boosters will help hasten that decline. But for now, masking indoors should be the new normal. Getting an infection, which in a small percentage of people (less than five percent), leads to months of debilitating illness, in some cases permanent disability, is something worth avoiding. You still aren’t the weirdo if you’re trying to avoid (re)infection.

*D.C. didn’t do a COVID testathon in August, so it’s hard to benchmark the data at this point. Without a sentinel surveillance system of hospital asymptomatic and symptomatic intake data, we’re flying blind.

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