Weekly News From Los Alamos County
July 15, 2022
Inside this newsletter, you will find...
The Epidemiology Corner - COVID-19 Update, Upcoming Community Briefing Info, New Vaccine Novavax Approved, White House Briefing
Survey & Results, COVID-19 data, and much more.
COVID-19 Update: Transmisson High as New BA.5 Variant Predominates...
Highly Immune-Evasive BA.5 Variant Outcompeting All Other Variants as Hospitalizations Rise

For the week ending July 9, CDC estimates Omicron variants BA.4/BA.5 account for 80% of U.S. cases nationwide, with BA.5 alone predominating at 65% prevalence as the only variant continuing to increase in prevalence. See HERE.  Barring the emergence of new and more competitive SARS-CoV-2 variants, Omicron BA.5 is expected to account for virtually all U.S. cases within the next several weeks. Health authorities are warning that neither vaccination, nor past infection with a prior variant provides much protection against BA.5 infection. On the other hand, up-to-date vaccination is expected to provide good protection against BA.5 severe disease, hospitalization, and death. See: HERE. Vaccines are not perfect, however, and COVID-19 hospitalizations have been consistently increasing in the U.S. from the low levels seen in April. Nationwide, COVID-19 hospitalizations have more than doubled since May, and daily new admissions are currently about 25% of that seen during the big January BA.1 surge. Rising hospitalization is consistent with increasing case numbers and successive waves of increasingly more immune-evasive Omicron variants. See HERE.  

COVID-19 in the County: Community Transmission Remains High 

Average daily reported COVID-19 cases remain high despite a declining trend following the peak case reporting seen in early June. For the week ending July 13 an average of 15 cases per day were reported, which is about half the number of peak average daily cases reported earlier in June. The number of actual COVID-19 infections occurring in the county is unknown due the assumed high prevalence use of non-reportable at-home testing. For the six-week time period June 1 through July 13, CDC indicates that about 800 PCR-confirmed cases were reported among county residents. Nationwide case underreporting has been estimated to range up to ten-fold. As a worst-case scenario, this means that perhaps a maximum of 8,000 out of roughly 19,000 Los Alamos County residents (42%) may have been infected during the current summer wave. The proportion of cases involving BA.5 is unknown, but can be maximally estimated at roughly 50% based on CDC nationwide variant prevalence data. Using such maximal estimates, a total of about 4,000 BA.5 infections have perhaps occurred in the county so far. The majority of county residents (79%) thus have likely not been infected with BA.5, which leaves a substantial number of persons susceptible to infection as the highly immune-evasive BA.5 variant gains in prevalence. Avoidance of BA.5 infection during times of high community transmission, as is occurring now in the county, will likely require individual and group mitigation efforts that include including masking and social distancing. See 

CDC Community Level Risk MEDIUM But Infection Risk Remains High 

For the week ending July 12, the CDC Community Level was lowered to MEDIUM as a result of improved Health Services Area (HSA) hospitalization metrics, both of which are now below CDC threshold criteria levels. However, county transmission rates remain well above the CDC criteria threshold of 200 cases per 100,000, and are nearly double those seen in the three neighboring HSA counties (Santa Fe, Taos, Rio Arriba). The CDC rationale for relying mainly on hospitalization metrics to establish Community Level public health recommendations is available HERE.  

All Ages Contributing to High Transmission in the County - Including the Elderly

NMDOH data on reported COVID-19 cases show that all age groups in the county are contributing to high community transmission, including infants and young children, as well as the elderly. For the 5-week time period June 1- July 7, a total of 66 COVID-19 cases were reported in county residents 60+ years, which included 19 cases aged 70-79 years and 15 cases aged 80+ years. The incidence rate in residents 80+ years (135 per 100,000) is roughly twice as high as that for residents aged 60-79 years. Seniors are at particularly high risk of severe disease and hospitalization, with persons 80+ years at highest risk. See HERE. According to the CDC, 95% of county residents 65 years and older have received the first two primary vaccine shots, whereas only 83% have received at least one booster shot. A recently released White House strategy to manage the BA.5 variant strongly recommends all persons 50+ years receive a booster shot to provide the highest protection possible against severe disease, hospitalization, and death. See HERE.  NMDOH recommends all persons 65+ testing positive for COVID-19 receive oral anti-viral treatments within 5 days of symptoms or positive test results. See HERE.

NOTE: The COVID-19 incidence data reviewed here are based on PCR-confirmed testing results compiled by CDC and NMDOH and do not include data on positive at-home antigen tests. As such, case counts are likely underestimated, but how much cannot be determined at any given time point. 

To assist with more complete case monitoring in New Mexico, NMDOH provides for online reporting of positive at-home antigen results  HERE.


U.S. regulators OK new COVID-19 shot option from Novavax

The U.S. is getting another COVID-19 vaccine choice as the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday cleared Novavax shots for adults.

Novavax makes a more traditional type of shot than the three other COVID-19 vaccines available for use in the U.S. -- and one that’s already available in Europe and multiple other countries.

Nearly a quarter of American adults still haven’t gotten their primary vaccinations even this late in the pandemic, and experts expect at least some of them to roll up their sleeves for a more conventional option — a protein-based vaccine.

The Maryland company also hopes its shots can become a top booster choice in the U.S. and beyond. Tens of millions of Americans still need boosters that experts call critical for the best possible protection as the coronavirus continues to mutate.

For now, the FDA authorized Novavax’s initial two-dose series for people 18 and older.

Before shots begin, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must recommend how they should be used, a decision expected next week.

Already the FDA is evaluating it for those as young as 12, Erck said. Novavax also has submitted data on booster doses, including “mix-and-match” use in people who’d earlier received Pfizer or Moderna vaccinations.

The Biden administration has bought 3.2 million Novavax doses so far, and Erck said vaccinations should begin later this month.

The Novavax vaccine is made of copies of the spike protein that coats the coronavirus, packaged into nanoparticles that to the immune system resemble a virus. Then an immune-boosting ingredient, or adjuvant, that’s made from the bark of a South American tree is added that acts as a red flag to ensure those particles look suspicious enough to spark a strong immune response.

Protein vaccines have been used for years to prevent hepatitis B, shingles and other diseases. It’s a very different technology than the dominant Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines that deliver genetic instructions for the body to produce its own copies of the spike protein. The lesser-used Johnson & Johnson option uses a harmless cold virus to deliver spike-making instructions.

Like the other vaccines used in the U.S., the Novavax shots have proved highly effective at preventing COVID-19′s most severe outcomes. Typical vaccine reactions were mild, including arm pain and fatigue. But FDA did warn about the possibility of a rare risk, heart inflammation, that also has been seen with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

To read the entire article, click HERE.
(source AP News)
Biden Administration Outlines Strategy to Manage BA.5

The White House COVID-19 Team is announcing its strategy to manage BA.5. The strategy relies on ensuring that Americans continue to have easy and convenient access to the vaccines, treatments, tests, and other tools that protect against and treat COVID-19. These tools – even in the face of BA.5 – work to prevent serious illness, keep people out of the hospital, and save lives – and we can prevent nearly all COVID-19 deaths with them.

To confront BA.5, the Administration will continue mobilizing the full strength and capabilities of the federal government and working with state and local leaders, health care workers, the private sector, and community- and faith-based organizations to ensure that the American people have easy and convenient access to and use vaccines, tests, and treatments.

The Administration’s strategy to manage BA.5 includes:

Making it easy for people to get vaccines and boosters: The Administration will continue working with state and local leaders, doctors and pediatricians, pharmacies, community health centers, long-term care facilities, employers, and community- and faith-based organizations to drive additional uptake of booster shots, particularly among those age 50 and older and other at-risk populations, including long-term care facility staff and residents. Given the rise of BA.5, it is essential that Americans stay up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations. The science is clear that COVID-19 vaccines remain our single-most important tool to protect people and prevent serious illness, hospitalizations, and deaths, and staying up to date on booster shots ensures that people have the highest level of protection possible. Vaccines are free and easy to access at 90,000 convenient locations nationwide.

Making it easy to access COVID-19 treatments and boost provider and patient awareness: The Administration will continue working across the federal government, with state and local leaders, health care providers, as well as the public and private sectors, to take additional actions to boost access and awareness of lifesaving treatments, particularly in areas where BA.5 is spreading. Today, the U.S. has three treatments that are effective against BA.5, including Paxlovid, a lifesaving antiviral pill that has been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by about 90 percent. Oral antivirals are now available at over 41,000 convenient locations nationwide, and nearly 90 percent of Americans live within 5 miles of a place where they can pick up a prescription.

Making free COVID-19 testing, including at-home tests, widely available: Testing continues to be an important tool to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including BA.4 and BA.5. In the face of BA.5, the Administration is encouraging Americans to use at-home tests before attending large, indoor gatherings, traveling, or visiting indoors with immunocompromised individuals. To help ensure that Americans have tests on hand if a need arises, the Administration opened COVIDtests.gov for a third round of ordering ahead of the summer, meaning that 16 free tests have been made available to each household since the launch of the program. Additionally, private health insurers, Medicare, and all Medicaid programs are required to cover at-home COVID-19 tests for free; health insurance plans now cover eight free tests per month per individual which can be easily accessed at local pharmacies and online. And, there are over 15,000 federally-supported free testing sites across the nation.

Making free high-quality masks widely available and communicate clear recommendations about when people should consider masking: Experts agree that masking in indoor, public spaces is an important tool to control the spread of COVID-19. The CDC’s COVID-19 Community Levels provide individuals with clear recommendations on when to consider masking in indoor, public spaces. As BA.5 drives an increase in cases, the Administration continues to encourage Americans to visit COVID.gov to find the level of COVID-19 in their community and follow CDC’s recommendations on wearing masks in public, indoor settings.

Prioritizing protections for immunocompromised individuals: As BA.5 cases rise, the Administration will continue to provide support to individuals who are immunocompromised so that they have the support they need to live their lives safely. The availability of vaccines for kids as young as six months old also ensures that all close contacts of immunocompromised individuals can be protected by COVID-19 vaccines. The Administration also continues to make effective pre-exposure prophylactics such as Evusheld more widely available through enhanced distribution to clinicians’ offices and clinics.

Encouraging all building owners to improve indoor ventilation: Improving ventilation can help prevent the spread of BA.4 and BA.5 indoors in buildings. The Administration has provided state and local leaders hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds that can be used in schools, public buildings, and other settings to improve indoor air quality, and the Administration will continue to advance indoor air quality in buildings, including by increasing public awareness around ventilation and filtration improvements to reduce disease spread, as well as by recognizing buildings and organizations that have taken steps to improve indoor air quality.

Empowering people with the latest information on COVID-19 and where to access vaccines, treatments, tests, and masks at COVID.Gov: The Administration will continue to communicate clearly with the American people about COVID-19 and the steps that they can take to protect themselves and their loved ones. COVID.gov is available in English, Spanish, and Simplified Chinese and is accessible for those using assistive technologies. The Administration is also making all of these COVID-19 tools available over the phone through the National Hotline at 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489), which supports over 150 languages. For individuals with disabilities who may need additional support, the Disability Information and Access Line (DIAL) is also available to help at 1-888-677-1199 or via email at DIAL@usaginganddisability.org. 

To read the entire article, click HERE.
(source The White House)
ABBREVIATED: Statement on the twelfth meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic

The WHO Director-General concurs with the advice offered by the Committee regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and determines that the event continues to constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).


The WHO Secretariat presented a global overview of current status of the COVID-19 pandemic, and highlighted a number of challenges to the ongoing response. The presentation focused on: the global COVID-19 epidemiological situation; the evolution of the virus and the impact of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern; an update on international travel-related measures; the current status of COVID-19 vaccination and progress towards WHO vaccination targets; and the 2022 WHO Strategic preparedness, readiness and response plan.

The Committee discussed the following issues: the impact of SARS-CoV-2 virus evolution on the public health response and capacities of health services; progress towards increasing COVID-19 vaccination coverage; changes in testing and surveillance strategies; societal and political risk perception and community engagement; equity and access to countermeasures, vaccines and therapeutics; and maintaining political engagement while balancing the need to respond to other public health priorities and emergencies.

Given the general public’s perception that the pandemic may be over, the Committee also highlighted the ongoing challenges in communicating, particularly to communities that continue to experience high levels of transmission, that the mitigation of the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, in the immediate and longer terms, depends on the use of PHSM.

To read the entire article, as well as the Temporary Recommendations issued by the WHO Director-General to all States Parties, click HERE.
(source WHO)
It's time to start paying more attention to Covid-19 again
Analysis by Zachary B. Wolf - CNN

While Covid-19 may have started to become an afterthought to many Americans, it may feel like a new variant snuck up and is now driving infection and hospitalization rates higher.

The new subvariant of Omicron, BA.5, shows how the virus continues to evolve around the best efforts of humanity to defeat it.

BA.5 is now the dominant variant in the US

It is transmissible even to people who were recently infected with Covid-19 as well as those who are fully vaccinated.

In the latest example of the evolving science moving the goal posts for protection against severe cases of Covid-19, second boosters -- beyond full vaccination, an initial booster and previous infection -- are now the best protection for older Americans.

Get boosted. And if you can, get re-boosted

Public health officials are urging adults 50 and older to get second booster shots. But many still aren't paying attention; only about a quarter of these eligible adults have received a second booster.

Massive undercount

We may not know how extensive the BA.5 surge actually is since the official count could miss the vast majority of new infections, which could be as high as 1 million per day, according to CNN's reporting.

One contributing factor to the undercount: the increasing reliance on at-home Covid-19 tests, the results of which are hardly ever reported to health authorities.

What about more boosters for those under 50?

CNN reported on Monday that "US health officials are urgently working on a plan to allow second Covid-19 boosters for all adults" amid fears that younger adults' immunity may be waning as cases rise with the dominance of BA.5.

Vaccines for those under 5

While adults 50 and older are being asked to get a fourth dose, the youngest Americans, those under 5, are just recently eligible for their first two -- and the data suggests very slow going.

CNN reported last week that just about 2% of Americans under 5, or around 300,000 children, had received at least one shot since the vaccine was authorized for this age group on June 17.

Covid-19 is not usually as dangerous for the youngest Americans, although there have been hundreds of deaths.

Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez, a pediatrician, described herself as "an anxious new mom," but wrote for CNN about why she got her 9-month-old son vaccinated.

She gave three main reasons, excerpted below:

First, Covid-19 is an unpredictable illness. While most children have minor symptoms and recover well, many have landed in hospitals and emergency rooms, and to date, more than 400 children under the age of 5 have died from the illness in the United States alone, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ...

Second ... the vaccine is in the body for a short period of time ... It instructs the body to make protective antibodies against Covid-19, and the body's own cellular mechanisms quickly break it down soon after. Because of this, there really is no plausible way it will interfere with my little William's development, something about which I am constantly thinking. ...

Lastly ... believing in the rigorous process the vaccines went through to obtain approval, I believe the US Food and Drug Administration and CDC recruited some of the most brilliant minds of our time to serve on the independent panels that reviewed the data and recommended giving the vaccines the green light.

To read the entire article, click HERE.
(source CNN)
Experts reveal how likely reinfection is from COVID with spread of Omicron subvariant BA.5
At least 1.6 million people have been reinfected across 24 states.
By Mary Kekatos

With more people getting infected multiple times, experts are looking into what is driving those reinfections. Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the prevailing theory was that if someone was infected with the virus, they were immune -- at least for a while. But a growing number of Americans seem to be contracting the virus more than once.
A recent ABC News analysis of state data found that, as of June 8, there have been more than 1.6 million reinfections across 24 states, but experts say the number is likely much higher.

"These are not the real numbers because many people are not reporting cases," Dr. Ali Mokdad, an epidemiologist with the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle, told ABC News.

Experts say the risk of reinfection has also increased due to the sheer number of Americans who've had a first infection and the dropping of mitigation measures, like mask-wearing, across the country.

Risk of reinfection was different pre-omicron

Before the omicron variant arrived in the U.S., experts said reinfection was far less likely.

In fact, an April 2021 study from England published in The Lancet found that people with a previous history of COVID-19 infection were 84% less likely to be reinfected. But that changed post-omicron. A March 2022 study from South Africa found an increased risk of reinfection with the emergence of omicron, BA.1, due to the variant's "marked ability to evade immunity from prior infection."

More people infected means higher chance of reinfection

Experts told ABC News the risk of reinfection hasn't just risen because of the emergence of the BA.5 variant. It's also because the total number of overall infections has increased.
In April, a CDC analysis estimated 58% of all Americans had antibodies indicating a prior COVID infection, meaning people never sickened by the virus are in the minority.

People have changed their behaviors

Mokdad said another reason that the risk of reinfection is higher is because people's behaviors have changed.

He said after the initial omicron wave in winter 2021-22, most Americans stopped wearing masks indoors and all states lifted their remaining mitigation measures.

"Mask-wearing is the lowest since we started tracking it," he said. "Even on planes, people don't wear them. And now you have an invasive and an immune-escape variant and people not wearing a mask indoors."

He said previous waves from different COVID strains -- including alpha, delta and the original omicron variant -- were likely mitigated due to a higher percentage of the public wearing masks in indoor spaces.

To read the entire article, click HERE.
(source ABC News)
COVID hospitalizations forecast to increase amid concerns over new omicron subvariants
Nearly 40 states and territories are projected to see increases.
By Arielle Mitropoulos

For the first time since May, COVID-19-related hospital admissions are forecasted to increase again in the U.S., as highly infectious omicron subvariants continue to spread, according to updated forecasting models used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The models show that nearly 40 states and territories are currently projected to see increases in new hospitalizations over the next two weeks. States in the South, including Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, are expected to see the greatest increases in hospitalizations.

Nationally, between 3,200 to 13,800 daily confirmed COVID-19 hospital admissions are expected to be reported on Aug. 5. As of Wednesday, the U.S. is reporting nearly 5,800 virus-related hospital admissions each day, according to the CDC.

Hospitalization levels have already been increasing, with nearly 40,000 virus-positive Americans currently hospitalized, according to federal data. Totals are more than double the level they were at this time last summer, when the delta surge was beginning to emerge, and a growing number of COVID-19 positive people are also showing up to emergency departments, data shows.

Although the overall total remains significantly lower than at the nation's peak, when more than 160,000 patients were hospitalized with the virus, hospitalizations are still at their highest point since early March.

The forecast also predicts that virus-related deaths will have either a stable or an uncertain trend in the next four weeks.

Even so, more than 5,700 deaths are still expected to occur nationally over the next two weeks. Texas, Oklahoma and California are projected to see the largest death tolls in the weeks to come.

The U.S. is currently reporting more than 118,000 new cases a day, marking the country's highest daily infection average since mid-February.

BA.5 is now the dominant variant in the U.S, accounting for an estimated 65% of new cases in the country. Scientists say it does appear to have a transmission advantage over the original omicron strain, although they do not believe it is more severe than prior strains.

To read the entire article, click HERE.
(source ABC News)
Understanding the Summer Air Travel Mess
By Heather Murphy - NYTimes

More people flew out of airports in the United States on [June 26] — 2.46 million according to the Transportation Security Administration — than on any other day so far this year. The Fourth of July holiday [was] expected to be even busier, with Hopper, a travel booking app, predicting that nearly 13 million passengers will fly to, from and within the United States [that] weekend.

The question for many travelers is whether they can trust airlines to get them where they want to go on time.

You could not blame them for assuming the answer is no. On June 17, the Friday before the Monday Juneteenth holiday, nearly a third of flights arrived late, according to FlightAware, a flight tracking company. Between [June 25 and June 27] ahead of the Fourth of July weekend, U.S. carriers already canceled nearly 2,500 flights.

Before postponing any upcoming trip, though, it’s worth taking a close look at cancellation and delay data for insights into how travel has, and has not, changed this year.

Percentage of cancellations so far this year vs. a comparable time in 2019: 2.8 percent vs. 2.1 percent.
Lesson: The idea that air travel was so much better before the pandemic may be clouded by nostalgia for Before Times.

Social media is filled with declarations that air travel is the worst it’s ever been. Indeed on some holiday weekends and stormy weeks it’s been astoundingly bad. But the reality is that airline reliability was pretty terrible even before the pandemic.

U.S. airlines have been operating somewhere between 21,000 and 25,000 flights a day in recent months. So far in 2022, an average of one of out five flights a day arrived behind schedule — a total of more than 820,000 delayed flights according to FlightAware. More than 116,000 flights have been canceled. All of this adds up to tens of thousands of people missing weddings, funerals and work events and grappling with how to salvage vacations. But in 2019 during a comparable period, it was not that much better. Back then, 17 percent — instead of 20 percent — also arrived late and the average delay time was 48 minutes instead of 49 minutes.

Ultimately for those who want to be certain that their flight is not canceled or delayed, the best bet seems to be skip air travel during busy weekends.

To read the entire article, click HERE.
(source NY Times)
Now or later? When to get a Covid booster shot
Updated vaccines targeting BA.4 and BA.5 are expected in the fall, but doctors still overwhelmingly encourage those who are eligible to get booster shots now.
By Erika Edwards - NBC News

As Covid cases and hospitalizations rise nationwide, the message from federal health officials about boosters is clear: Don’t wait to get the shot. If you're eligible, get it immediately.

But sorting through who specifically is eligible, how many shots people need and when they need them has confounded many.

What's more, new versions of the vaccines are in the works that aim to specifically target the omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5. But those shots aren’t expected until this fall — leading to questions about whether people should get boosters now, or simply wait.
Here's what to know about Covid boosters.

Who can get a booster now?

Adults ages 50 and above are strongly encouraged to get two booster shots.

Older adults have had a higher risk for Covid complications since the beginning of the pandemic.

Adults ages 18 to 49 are eligible for one booster dose, or a third shot overall, at least five months after their initial series of vaccinations with either the Moderna or the Pfizer vaccine.

Children and teenagers ages 5 to 17 can get boosters as long as it has been at least five months since their first two Pfizer doses. Children who initially received the Moderna shots don’t yet qualify for boosters.

Children ages 6 months though age 4 are eligible for the initial rounds of either Pfizer’s or Moderna’s vaccines; however, boosters aren’t yet recommended for that age group, according to the CDC.

General guidance is that people ages 5 and up with weakened immune systems can get additional shots sooner than the general population, often three months after their first rounds of vaccinations.

Do the current boosters work against BA.4 and BA.5?

The current shots were designed to address the original strain of the coronavirus. But as the virus has mutated, it has become more and more adept at sneaking past the wall of immunity our bodies have built up — through previous infection, vaccination or both.

Right now, omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 account for more than 80% of cases circulating. Experts say the current shots don’t prevent infection from BA.4 and BA.5 as well. Indeed, breakthrough infections and reinfections are reported regularly.

Experts say the shots can, however, reduce the risk an infected person will develop complications of the virus.

I just had Covid. Do I need a booster?

Yes, as long as you've recovered from the acute illness, meaning you are fever-free and back to normal daily activities, said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. That includes diagnoses within the past month, he said.

Should kids get boosters before school starts?

Pediatricians do encourage parents to get their kids booster shots before they head back to school if they haven’t been boosted already — even if new vaccines are, indeed, available in the coming months.

While it's true that children have largely been spared the most severe consequences of Covid, their risk isn’t zero.

To read the entire article, click HERE.
(source NBC News)
How to resist peer pressure when you’re the only one wearing a mask

Actor and director Ben Stiller recently attended a New York Knicks basketball game with every intention to wear a mask. 

“I honestly got peer pressured into not wearing a mask in my head,” he said in a recent interview on the Howard Stern Show. “Nobody had a mask on. I’m like, ‘OK. Am I going to be the only guy wearing a mask?’ I felt like I’m going to be the weird guy.’ I should have just done that.”

No one said anything to Stiller. They didn’t have to. Being the only one in the room with a mask on was too much to bear and he caved. He didn’t wear a mask at the game. 

“But guess what happened? I got COVID two days after that game,” he said. 

It’s becoming a familiar story. As mask mandates have lifted across the country, more people have experienced the odd feeling of being the only one in the room, grocery store, or office wearing a mask or face covering.

In many cases, the indirect or unspoken peer pressure – the peer pressure to conform to specific behaviors based on what other members of a group are doing – is enough to motivate someone to ditch their mask, despite their best judgment. Even when they know the risks and would normally choose to mask if more people were doing so.

Model desired behavior

What helps humans stand up to indirect or unspoken peer pressure to conform?
Identifying others in a group setting who are masked, so people don’t feel like the only ones. Also, seeing leaders in a group setting (think teachers, principals, managers) modeling mask-wearing can help.

How to help children with pressure to conform

Kids feel indirect peer pressure to conform as much as adults do in group settings. UC Davis psychologist Brandi Hawk said that family values, open discussions and modeling desired behavior are three factors that can make a difference in whether a child succumbs to, or stands up to, indirect peer pressure. 

Parents who want to reinforce the importance of masking with their children should model wearing masks whenever they are in public, Hawk advised. Keeping their behavior consistent is key.

“Parents should also have direct, open conversations that explicitly state they want their children to continue to mask at school and explain why masking aligns with their family values,” Hawk said. “When children understand why they should or should not do something, it becomes a little easier to resist peer pressure.”

And maybe just recognizing that we as humans are going to experience these feelings of indirect peer pressure can help better equip people the next time they are the only ones wearing a mask on an airplane, in the classroom or at a Knicks game.

To read the entire article, click HERE.
(source NBC News)
COVID-19 Data Resources
CDC COVID Data Tracker - July 14, 2022

To get today's break down of positive case data, demographics information, vaccine status and more for Los Alamos County or other counties across the United States, click HERE
Johns Hopkins 
The charts available with this TOOL layout the key metrics for understanding the reach and severity of COVID-19 in a given area.
Johns Hopkins
COVID-19 Status Report Dashboard for
NMDOH Epidemiology Reports - Daily and Weekly Data
As part of the COVID-19 pandemic response, NMDOH collects and analyzes statewide data for COVID-19 positive cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. The reports reflect these critical data and are updated weekly - click HERE
Surveys and Questions
When is the next Community Briefing?

Thursday, June 28 at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom. Keep your eye out for more information!

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Take a look at these results from the last survey:

Los Alamos Vaccine & Booster Information
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Visit the County COVID Page for information regarding vaccinations/boosters, click below:
Los Alamos Testing Information
Los Alamos County Testing Resources
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