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National Illness Levels Have Finally Decreased

January 28, 2022  ||  BY KINSA'S EPIDEMIOLOGY TEAM

National Illness Levels Have Finally Decreased 

After a very tough month and a half, we’re seeing relief across the country. Kinsa’s data shows decreased illness levels across all regions of the US, even in areas where Omicron more recently peaked, like the South and the West. While case counts still remain higher than other waves during the pandemic, the worst of the Omicron surge seems to be behind us. 

Map showing decreased illness levels across all regions of the US

How Contagious Is Omicron, Really?  

It seemed apparent throughout December that Omicron moved more quickly through communities than previous variants. Kinsa’s unique data reinforces this. Household Secondary Attack Rate is a metric of how easily illness spreads within homes. It measures what percent of household members get a fever after an initial household member gets sick with a fever. 

Looking at the chart below, big spikes in Household Secondary Attack Rate point to the contagiousness of COVID variants over the past two years. Delta was far more contagious than any fever-related illness we've seen to date, and Omicron was more contagious still.

Kinsa's Household Secondary Attack Rate

In good news: while the current Household Secondary Attack Rate remains higher than in past years, it is beginning to decline - likely a reflection of Omicron’s decline nationally alongside other (less contagious) illnesses continuing to circulate. 

And, in case you missed it…like many families across the country, our staff nurse, Nurse Blake, navigated a very confusing holiday season while her husband had COVID. With evolving guidelines and hard decisions about how to keep herself and her daughters safe during this supposed-to-be-celebratory time, she shared her story in the hopes that it would be helpful to others in a similar boat in early 2022. 

What’s Next This Illness Season?

Here at Kinsa, we’re keeping a very close eye on regions first hit by Omicron, like the Northeast. Flu activity steadily increased leading up to the holidays, but dropped over the past month, likely due to prevention behaviors changing in response to Omicron. As folks in these regions resume more in-person and indoor gatherings, influenza activity might increase again. Continue to follow along and sign up for local illness risk alerts at healthweather.us to stay informed. 

Readers, please note:  One input in Kinsa’s HealthWeather COVID-19 risk is daily confirmed cases as collected from state public health authorities by Johns Hopkins University. On the HealthWeather map, Florida and Tennessee may appear to have lower COVID risk than they actually have, due to recent state reporting delays / lags.

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