CDC Unveils US Counties with Soaring COVID Rates Amid Mask Mandate Debate

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently shed light on the US counties grappling with the highest rates of COVID. This revelation comes at a time when the nation is witnessing an upward trend in COVID hospitalizations, marking the eighth consecutive week of increase.

Georgia leads the pack with six counties recording the highest rates, followed by Oklahoma with four, and Texas with three. However, it’s not all doom and gloom.

Approximately one in ten counties, totaling 303, reported zero COVID admissions over the most recent week for which data is available. This paints a picture of a nation divided, with some areas experiencing a surge while others remain relatively unscathed.

Dr. Thomas Moore, an infectious disease expert at the University of Kansas, anticipates an uptick in COVID admissions in various counties later this year. However, he reassures this increase will likely not match the levels seen in previous waves.

He also attributes this to the absence of a Paxlovid-resistant or vaccine-resistant strain, suggesting the surges experienced with previous strains, such as Delta and Omicron, will not be replicated.

Despite the rising hospitalization rates, they are still ticking up from historic lows. The most recent complete data available, for the week ending August 26, shows a slight increase in the test positivity rate from 13.6 percent to 14.1 percent.

This indicates while the situation is far from ideal, it is not spiraling out of control.

In the midst of these developments, Dr. Anthony Fauci, former White House chief medical adviser, stirred controversy with his stance on mask mandates.

Despite criticism, he stated he would be ‘extremely surprised’ if nationwide face mask mandates returned this winter, even in the face of a significant rise in COVID cases.

Dr. Fauci’s comments raised eyebrows, especially as schools, colleges, and businesses across America begin asking staff and students to wear masks again.

He did not rule out the possibility of masks being ‘recommended’ again at the state or local level, but he firmly dismissed the idea of federal mandates returning.

While the COVID hospitalization rate is increasing across half of the 3,224 counties that make up the US, it remains far lower than the record highs of January 2022.

Experts predict a further increase in COVID hospitalizations and deaths in the coming weeks as winter approaches. However, they assure the wave of COVID admissions will not mirror those of previous winters.