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Back in December I was clinging to hope – irrationally, but isn’t all hope irrational at heart? – that we would dodge the winter COVID surge. No such luck.

As of Thursday, the New Hampshire Hospital Association says more people are in its beds with COVID-19 than at any point last year. Not since February of 2022 have we had more than 169 people hospitalized with the SARS-CoV2 virus until last week, when we had 173 of them. And counting.

I don’t know of state-specific data but the CDC says a national COVID surge is being fueled by yet another variant of this ever-evolving virus called JN.1, although the Omicron variant is still a major player. That estimate is based on testing for viruses in sewage at treatment plants, which has become quite common in one of the few good things to come out of the pandemic.

Testing at Concord’s main wastewater treatment plant has seen concentrations of the virus roughly double during December, for example.

Mask mandates have been reinstated at a few area health-care centers. I’ve scrounged around the house and found masks, and put them in the car so I can don them in grocery stores and other crowded places. Drat.

Anecdotally I know of a number of people who have tested positive in the past month. That includes my boss although of course I won’t use that as an excuse to goof off, certainly not.

I got COVID last fall after dodging it for three years. My case was mild – I’m vaccinated to the max, of course – but my taste buds are still slightly out of whack; things sometimes taste metallic. If I was a foodie this would be a serious issue!

More serious is the continuing news about long-term effects of COVID, especially in people who’ve had it several times. The virus seems to lurk in unexpected places in the body, sometimes causing neurologic and other symptoms that you don’t expect from something that seems to be sort of like the flu.

Such effects of a continuing pandemic are likely to be with us for many, many years even if active hospitalizations finally go away. They’re a good reason that we should continue to take the disease seriously.

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