Omicron and the Fourth Phase of Pandemic Response

What’s changed?

1. COVID affects every country and every community differently

CoVID-19 risk by county, August 2021 (source: NYT)
COVID Risk by county, December 2021 (source: NYT)

2. We aren’t fighting one disease

3. The fallacy of binary outcomes

4. The tools have changed, and so has their adoption and efficacy

New cases since December 2019. Notably, vaccines were first introduced in early 2021.

COVID has waves. Pandemic Response has Phases.

  • Phase One: Discovery, Shock, and Spread (Winter/Spring 2020). In a period of 17 days in March, New York City went from 2 cases to over 1000. Without testing, or a clear model of the pathology of the diseases, terrifying rates of hospitalization and fatality emerged.
  • Phase Two: Testing, Tracking, and Locking Down (Summer/Fall 2020). By June 1, the US was doing 1.4MM COVID tests per week. With a better model of the disease, CDC recommends masking and distance. Most in-person businesses that can shutter do so, either out of fear or local mandate.
  • Phase Three: Mitigating, Vaccinating, and Opening Up (Winter / Spring 2021) With most of the US in lockdown, US infections peaked in early January 2021 and fell from 300,000 to 60,000 per day, within a few weeks. At the same time, vaccines began to be deployed, from zero in early January, to over 3.5 million doses given in April. Cases fall to less than 10,000 per day, and many offices re-open, as well as restaurants, schools, cruise lines and live music venues.

Phase Four: Variants, Complexities, and Uncertainty

The last 30 days, globally, of new cases. The current 7-day average us up 28% from one month ago.

Phase Four Pandemic Response

The Poppy Bioaerosol Collection Device on the wall is monitoring the office space here to detect the environmental presence of COVID-19 (and 1000 other pathogens.) Photo © Poppy 2021.
This is one of Poppy’s air assessments in a complex set of spaces inside a cultural institution. With the complete data set, facilities managers were able to determine how to recalibrate HVAC and air circulation to make the site “infection-resistant.”

1. Passive, not demanding

They are led by communities, not by states.

The Four Seasons Center for the Performing Arts asks all of its patrons to take the strongest precautions to protect themselves and one another. But beyond that, it also takes the deepest care of its community by making sure that the circulation of air is optimized to protect everyone from the spread of any pathogens, including COVID, but also far beyond it.

They are adaptive, not fixed.

Building the Infection-Resistant Landscape




co-CEO and co-founder, Poppy Health (

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Sam Molyneux

Sam Molyneux

co-CEO and co-founder, Poppy Health (

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