COVID cases in the United States continue to surge, with the latest COVID variant, identified as JN.1, now dominating the majority of recent cases. JN.1 has become the fastest-growing and predominant variant, representing almost half (44.2%) of U.S. cases as of Friday, December 22, according to the latest data from the CDC. The CDC’s findings suggest that JN.1 is currently responsible for 39% to 50% of all COVID cases, a significant increase from the previously reported range of 15% to 29%.
The Northeast U.S., particularly New Jersey and New York, is experiencing the strongest impact, with JN.1 contributing to nearly 57% of cases. In the West (Arizona, California, Nevada), it comprises about 41%, and in the mid-Atlantic region (including Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia), JN.1 accounts for approximately 39% of cases.
The surge of JN.1 is occurring concurrently with a decline in COVID-19, flu, and virus vaccinations among Americans. Recently, the CDC issued a health advisory to healthcare providers, warning that low vaccination rates against influenza, COVID-19, and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) could result in more severe diseases and increased strain on healthcare capacity in the upcoming weeks. Particularly concerning for holiday travelers, the CDC revealed on Friday that JN.1 is likely more transmissible than other variants and may possess an enhanced ability to evade our immune systems compared to other circulating variants.
Preventive measures, and treatment still the same for the newest COVID variant JN.1
The JN.1 variant of COVID-19 is derived from the Omicron family’s substrain BA.2.86, also known as Pirola, which made its impact in the U.S. during the summer. Initially identified in the U.S. in September, JN.1 has since been documented in 12 countries, including Canada, France, the U.K., Singapore, and Sweden. Last week, China reported seven infections attributed to the JN.1 variant, according to Reuters.
As of December 22, the CDC assures that wearing masks, ventilating rooms, and current tests, vaccines, and treatments continue to be effective against the JN.1 variant. The CDC states that, as of now, the spread of JN.1 does not pose additional risks to public health beyond those associated with recent variants. The CDC remains vigilant in monitoring both domestic and international increases in COVID-19 cases and will provide updates if the situation evolves.
While new and ongoing hospital admissions, emergency room diagnoses, and the percentage of positive test results for COVID have shown a steady increase since November through the week ending December 16, they remain below the levels observed during the peak of the pandemic, according to the CDC.
The current increase in COVID-19 cases follows a familiar pattern of rising to a peak in late summer, slowing, and then experiencing another peak around the new year. The CDC acknowledges the uncertainty regarding the extent to which JN.1 may be contributing to these recent increases or potential further rises throughout December, similar to patterns observed in previous years.
While deaths due to COVID have seen a slight decline, it’s essential to note that statistics on the cause of death can lag behind other reported results, potentially influencing the observed trend. The situation remains dynamic, and ongoing monitoring and analysis are crucial for a comprehensive understanding of the evolving COVID-19 landscape.
In the ongoing battle against COVID-19, maintaining a clean and disinfected home is of paramount importance. Effective cleaning practices serve as a crucial line of defense, helping to reduce the risk of viral transmission within the household. Regularly disinfecting frequently-touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, light switches, and electronic devices, is essential in minimizing the potential spread of the virus. Employing appropriate cleaning agents and following recommended guidelines ensures a thorough and effective cleaning routine. By prioritizing cleanliness in our living spaces, we contribute to creating a safer environment for ourselves and our loved ones during these challenging times. Stay informed, stay vigilant, and embrace the power of a well-maintained, hygienic home to combat the spread of COVID-19.
What are the JN.1 COVID variant symptoms?
The symptoms of a COVID-19 infection caused by JN.1 are reported by the CDC to be similar to those associated with other variants. These symptoms may include:
- Fever or chills.
- Sore throat.
- Congestion or runny nose.
- Muscle aches.
- Difficulty breathing.
- New loss of taste or smell.
- “Brain fog” (feeling less wakeful and aware).
- Gastrointestinal symptoms (upset stomach, mild diarrhea, vomiting).
- It’s essential to remain vigilant and seek medical attention if experiencing any of these symptoms, especially if there is a potential exposure to COVID-19 or its variants.