The Sirens

December 27, 2021 By Alan Salzberg

 In late March of 2020, there was a constant din of ambulance sirens, as Covid reached its peak in New York City.  The last few days, I've started to hear it again.  Statisticians aren't supposed to read the tea leaves, but sometimes anecdotal evidence seems right.

So I turned to the data, which you can find at .  

This data provides both new and total patients hospitalized with Covid, which I've graphed below for New York City.  In terms of total hospitalizations, we're at just about 2,000, about half of last winter's peak and just one-sixth the more than 12,000 hospitalized in April 2020.  So from that perspective, there is little reason to worry.  However, new admissions are more troubling.  The last couple of days before Christmas, we were at around 300 a day.  This equals last winter's peak, and is about one-third the April 2020 peak.  

It is possible that we are at the peak now, but the rise in new admissions has been very steep in the last week, from 118 on 12/17 to 280 on 12/24 (two weeks ago, it was 70).  So if next week is like last week in terms of the increase in admissions, we'll be at more than 600 new admissions per day by New Year's.  This is enough to bring total hospitalizations above last winter's peak.  Add to that the inevitable shortages of healthcare workers due to sickness from Covid, and we could very quickly have a crisis like April 2020, when many people died waiting for care in hospitals, or at home because they could not get to a hospital.

There is really no good way to know if the case rise will continue.  On the bright side, Omicron appears to be a quick peak/quick drop kind of variant (so maybe we're at or near the peak in NYC).  On the other hand, the next few weeks tend to be the worst for respiratory illnesses generally and Covid specifically (we only have one year of data on Covid but the trend in many different cold states was similar last year).

A final piece of hopeful (?) anecdotal evidence.  More friends and acquaintances of mine have gotten Covid during the last two weeks than at any time during the pandemic.  It could be that Omicron is running out of hosts (local herd immunity).