Is the Pandemic Still a Thing? Is There More Than One?
The President of the United States has contracted COVID twice despite multiple jabs, and there are reports of monkeypox outbreaks around the country. The fact that people are still testing positive for COVID (perhaps people you know) and word of yet another disease making the rounds (just over 17,000 cases of monkeypox in the US have been reported) may be causing some of us to wonder if we are entering a new phase of multiple, overlapping pandemics.
A look at the actual statistics may help. You can check out your own community’s COVID case rate and number of deaths on the CDC website, which will give you a localized version of the chart shown below for the entire United States.
Showing data from June 2020 through the present, the chart indicates that there appears to be a mild spike of COVID cases around the country currently (the lower, shaded data range), but the death rate from these cases is much reduced from what it was early in the pandemic (the upper line on the chart). The disease seems to be getting milder with each new strain.
But what about monkeypox? The CDC also tracks these cases around the country (https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/response/2022/us-map.html), but here the numbers are far lower than some reports in the press would indicate (compare the roughly 17,000 cases of monkeypox in the US reported since the beginning of the outbreak last May with the 81,000 reported COVID infections here within the first three months of the pandemic). Of course, monkeypox is a different sort of disease. Similar to but typically milder than smallpox, monkeypox symptoms become visible (rashes on hands, feet, chest, and other areas) and the virus spreads primarily via skin-to-skin contact or sharing clothing with infected persons, it may be easier to avoid becoming infected than with COVID, an airborne pathogen. The fatality rate with monkeypox is low—3% to 6%—and the more common experience involves fever, a rash, headaches, and swollen lymph nodes that can last for up to two weeks. There are vaccines, but they are in limited supply at the moment. If the disease begins to spread more rapidly, then we will probably be advised to go to the local pharmacy to get yet another jab.
For now, according to the Mayo Clinic, the best way to avoid contracting monkeypox involves a healthy dose of common sense:
Avoid close contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
Avoid handling clothes, sheets, blankets, or other materials that have been in contact with an infected animal or person.
Isolate people who have monkeypox from healthy people.
Wash your hands well with soap and water after any contact with an infected person or animal.
Avoid animals that may carry the virus.
Of course we should not minimize the pain and suffering caused by the COVID pandemic, and it’s important to remember that persons with autoimmune diseases or compromised immune systems may still be vulnerable. Vaccinations seem to have slowed the spread, and some people still feel safer with wearing masks in public, especially in crowded spaces. But for now, at least, the worst effects seem to be in the past.
At Bernhardt Wealth Management, we care about our clients’ total wellbeing, not just their financial condition. While our principal expertise lies in wealth management and developing sound financial strategies, we want to be helpful to those we serve in any way possible. To learn more, click here to read our recent article, “Ending Surprise Medical Bills: The ‘No Surprises’ Act of 2021.”