October's COVID-19 Impact
On October 13, 2023, the golfing world lost an eleven-time PGA Tour winner Andy Bean. He was 70. His demise came six weeks after undergoing a double-lung transplant to address severe lung damage caused by a battle with COVID-19.
Born on March 13, 1953, Thomas Andrew Bean spent his formative years on the picturesque Jekyll Island, Georgia, before his family relocated to Lakeland, Florida. The move was inspired by his father Tommy's passion for golf, which led to the development of a golf course in Lakeland. Andy Bean's connection to the sport grew stronger as he went on to attend the University of Florida, where he played alongside teammates Gary Koch, Woody Blackburn, and Phil Hancock, helping the Gators secure the 1973 NCAA Championship.
Bean turned professional in 1975, embarking on a journey that would establish him as one of the PGA Tour's most consistent performers. Standing at an impressive 6-foot-4, Bean even gained notoriety for an incident where he "wrestled" an alligator at Q-school.
The impact of COVID-19, while less severe than the devastating waves of 2020, 2021, and 2022, still constitutes a significant public health concern. This is especially pertinent for vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, immunocompromised individuals, and those with multiple comorbidities.
In September 2023, there was a minor upturn in the number of infections, hospitalizations, and daily fatalities, with figures surpassing 1,300. Although subsequent trends have shown a reduction, the most recent data, as of October 21, 2023, still stand at 637 deaths per week, indicating that the challenge of managing COVID-19 persists.
On a global scale, the number of new COVID-19 cases and deaths in October exhibited a decline of slightly more than 40% when compared to September. Despite this positive trend, there were still over half a million new cases and more than six million deaths reported worldwide.
The latest findings from the COVID-19–Associated Hospitalization Surveillance Network (COVID-NET) Surveillance Team, which were published in October but pertain to the period until June 2023, emphasize the gravity of the virus among the elderly. The 65+ age group accounts for more than 60% of COVID-19 hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions, as well as nearly 90% of in-hospital deaths. Approximately one-fifth of individuals in this group have received all recommended vaccine doses (more than one bivalent vaccine), while roughly 15% remain unvaccinated.
In the United States, the HBB.1 variant, which has its origins in the Eris lineage, is currently the fastest-growing strain. Simultaneously, in France and several other countries, the JN.1 variant (descendent of Pirola); sequenced by Dr. Cao) is gaining prominence. Flip harboring S:455F and S:456L and its descendant JD.1.1(FLip+A475V) are other concerning variants.
While COVID-19 may not pose the same level of threat in terms of fatalities as it did in recent years, it continues to necessitate vigilance, particularly for those who are most susceptible.
Taylor CA, Patel K, Patton ME, et al. COVID-19–Associated Hospitalizations Among U.S. Adults Aged ≥65 Years — COVID-NET, 13 States, January–August 2023. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2023;72:1089–1094. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm7240a3
Eric Topol. The Virus Takes a Detour in its Evolutionary Arc. OCT 25, 2023