The virus that causes COVID-19 has begun to recede slightly in the United States
According to experts, the pandemic acts on less of a light switch than a dimmer – dialing back and forth in different pockets of the country. It seems that once the national pandemic is moving in the right direction.
“I think we can say with confidence that the worst is behind us, except for some crazy unforeseen option that none of us expect to see,” said Dr. Ashish K. Ja, dean of the University School for public health in Brown.
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“We will not see the suffering and death we have seen over the holidays. I think we are in much better shape ahead,”
More than half of the country – 26 states – reported a reduction in the number of cases in the last week with new cases by 18%. Deaths and hospitalizations are also declining. Even in Michigan, the US hotspot this spring, there is an average daily drop of more than 36 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We think it’s related to increased vaccination, increasing people’s attention, and so I’m cautiously optimistic that we’re on the turn,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Valensky told GMA this week.
Philadelphia Children’s Hospital, which makes its own weekly forecast, called it “clear evidence that the show is falling” and predicted that the trend would continue.
“Much of the improvement could be linked to increased vaccination levels among younger, middle-aged adults,” the hospital’s PolicyLab concluded this week.
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This cautious optimism comes with big warnings. Health experts estimate that nearly 100 million Americans who are fully vaccinated are not enough to crush the pandemic. Although this represents about 30 percent of the population, it is estimated that about 70-85 percent of the country must be protected for “herd immunity” to take effect. Past virus infections may not be counted because it is not known how long the immunity lasts.
In Oregon, for example, officials warned that cases were on the rise and hospitalizations had doubled in the past two weeks, a trend driven by younger unvaccinated residents.
In addition, as the situation in the United States improves, the global situation is still weak. India is deteriorating and its health system has been shattered by a huge outbreak this spring. Other countries are also struggling to control outbreaks, making it more likely that when the virus spreads unchecked, new variants will form.
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“This can happen in a number of countries, in any country, if we leave our guard. I’m not saying that India has given up its guard, but I’m saying we are in a fragile situation,” said Dr Maria Van Kerchow, technical director of The World Health Organization for COVID-19, at a press conference this week.
So far, vaccines offered in the United States are thought to provide protection against global options. But the worst-case scenario, health experts say, is that a new strain will develop abroad that is smarter at avoiding the body’s immune system, weakening the vaccine’s defenses.
In other words, a smaller version of the pandemic could drag on for months into something like a Whack-a-Mole game. Communities with high levels of vaccination would enjoy more freedom from the virus, while areas with greater reluctance could fight exacerbations. If the global options arrive, as is almost certain with the resumption of travel, the United States will try to provide booster photos.
And yet, even with all the warnings that the pandemic is not over, signs of life are returning. Louisiana convened its state fair on Thursday after canceling it last fall, and promised a second festival in the fall. Disneyland California opened on Friday, and water parks were scheduled to reopen this summer, after losing last season.
Perhaps the biggest sign of life returning to the United States was the announcement that New York would reopen fully on July 1 with major Broadway productions expected this fall.
“This will be the summer of New York,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said triumphantly this week. “I think people will flock to New York because they want to live again.”
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Other local officials are ready to declare the pandemic over, even with about 50,000 cases, on average per day in the country.
“The widely available vaccine is changing everything and it’s a new season in Tennessee,” said Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee. “I do not renew any public health orders, as COVID-19 is no longer an emergency medical service in our country.”
Wallenski told reporters on Friday that we still need to go slow.
“This virus has deceived us before, so I would like to watch and see how it goes before making further assessments of what is happening in a few months,” she said.
Matthew Van, Ariel Mitropoulos and Cheyenne Haslet of ABC News contributed to this report.
“The worst is behind us”: COVID virus shrinks, giving hope to a nation battered by disease, first appeared on abcnews.go.com