At the start of another school year, I’ve been thinking about the differences between 2021 and 2022. Last year, many schools had mask mandates, testing programs and quarantine rules (SN: 3/15/22). This year, masking is optional and testing and quarantines are out (SN: 8/19/22).
We’ve shed measures that stop the spread of the coronavirus and help prevent excessive disruptions to in-person learning. Without them, and with the absence of nearly any controls in place elsewhere in society, we’re inviting the virus to keep spreading, to find new ways to thwart immunity and to continue to derail plans and routines. And it’s not just a risk to our day-to-day lives, but to our future health. As much as we want to put the pandemic in the rearview mirror, evidence continues to emerge that the coronavirus’s impact will be a recurring, unwelcome feature of many tomorrows.
Scientists predict COVID-19 cases will rise this fall and winter in the United States, as more of life heads indoors during colder weather. The Biden Administration has said there could be 100 million new cases. We have a new aid in the face of a possible surge: a revamped COVID-19 shot targeting the omicron variant, from both Pfizer (for 12 years and up) and Moderna (for 18 years and up), is now available (SN: 9/2/22). Meant as a booster shot, the tweaked vaccine is the original version with added protection against the BA.4 and BA.5 variants. The BA.5 variant is dominant in the United States, accounting for 89 percent of cases at the beginning of September.
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Public health officials would like to ge …