CDC: Most Americans have been infected with COVID-19

Enterprise file photo — Michael Koff

Christian camps, like this one in Guilderland before the pandemic, are less prevalent now.

ALBANY COUNTY — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted a report on Tuesday, showing that, by February, 60 percent of Americans, including 75 percent of children, had been infected with COVID-19.

The Omicron variant became dominant in December, causing cases nationally to peak “at their highest recorded levels,” the report says.

Since traditional methods of disease surveillance do not capture all COVID cases — some are asymptomatic, not diagnosed, or not reported — the researchers studied antibodies, known as seroprevalence, to understand the incidence of COVID-19.

“As of February 2022, approximately 75% of children and adolescents had serologic evidence of previous infection with SARS-CoV-2, with approximately one third becoming newly seropositive since December 2021,” the report says.

The greatest increases in seroprevalence from September 2021 to February 2022 was in the age groups with the lowest vaccination coverage, the researchers found. They said that lower seroprevalence among adults aged 65 or older, who are at greater risk for severe illness from COVID-19, might also be related to the increased use of additional precautions with increasing age. 

The older the age group, the less likely it was to have antibodies.

Some experts believe the widespread previous infection may be why there are fewer serious illnesses from the virus now.

New York State, including Albany County, continues to have a high rate of infection compared to the rest of the nation, which the state’s health department has said is caused by two new subvariants of Omicron.

As of Thursday, as a seven-day average, Albany County had 41.3 cases per 100,000 and a positivity rate of 14 percent. Statewide, those numbers were 34.5 cases per 100,000 and a 6.9 percent infection rate.

Albany County continued to be labeled has “high” by the CDC for it’s community level of COVID-19, which is based on based on new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 of population as a seven-day total and on the percent of inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients as a seven-day average.

A “high” designation means masks are to be worn indoors in public. Also, on Monday afternoon, Albany County’s health department put out an advisory “strongly recommending all residents, regardless of vaccination status, … wear masks in indoor public spaces, including private businesses.”


Religious education curtailed by pandemic

A study from the Hartford Institute for Religion Research shows that although 90 percent of surveyed congregations have already returned to face-to-face worship, religious education programming is still “far from normal.”

Half of the congregations said they felt the pandemic had caused major disruption to their educational programs. This includes Sunday school, vacation Bible school, church day camps, and adult education.

Smaller churches, those in the mainline tradition, and churches that did not quickly return to a modified in-person education program suffered more during the past two years.

The institute’s third report examining how United States congregations are navigating the pandemic included 615 responses from churches in 31 Christian denominational groups. 

Results showed that virtual religious education did not work well for children, though it had benefits in adult educational efforts.

For children’s programs, 82 percent of both the Catholic/Orthodox and Evangelical churches continued meeting in-person during the pandemic, often with modifications. For youth religious education, 75 percent of Catholic/Orthodox and 68 percent of Evangelical congregations continued in-person meetings whereas only 29 percent of mainline churches did so.

Smaller churches (those under 100 attendees) were most likely to report both not having children and youth programming, as well as discontinuing children and youth programming during the pandemic and presently. This was, in part, due to a decline in volunteers helping with leadership responsibilities.

Prior to the pandemic, 36 percent of churches offered vacation Bible school or church day camps during the summer. In 2020, that number dropped to 17 percent of congregations, and while that number rebounded back to 36 percent in the summer of 2021, currently only 31 percent of churches plan to offer vacation Bible school in 2022.

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