The US has reported a decline in the number of Covid 19 cases and an increase in vaccinations daily. Despite this reassuring fact, many health officials have advised the public to continue to adhere to Covid-19 health guidelines and safety precautions.
Coronavirus Cases May Decline But Safety Precautions Must Be Taken
The reason for this advice by health officials is that firstly, the level of Covid 19 cases is still high. Secondly, evidence suggests that a new variant of the Coronavirus may adversely affect the country’s health system.
According to data provided by the John Hopkins University, the new cases reported a day are around 57,400 in the last week. This number is 14 % less than the daily new cases of the previous week. It is also grossly lower than the number of cases reported at the peak of the pandemic in January when cases averaged about 255,380 a day.
Though the decline in cases gives reason to hope for better circumstances, a disconcerting fact still prevails. The current number of cases is very similar to the numbers seen last summer. Another worrisome point is that the number of cases is still amazingly high. Before and after July new cases were at 67,000 a day. In September too, which noted a decline in cases, the 32,500 mark was still a staggering amount.
Dr. Peter Hotez who is the co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at the Texas Children’s Hospital gave his take on the matter. He stated, “ We were talking about those numbers (above 50,000) back in the summer with horror. We’ve just gotten so used to astonishingly high levels of transmission, and now it’s down to a roar, but it’s still quite a bit”.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, renowned medical expert and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has declared that a minimum of 10,000 new cases a day is the mark at which the risk of a new surge in cases will decrease.
Officials warn against relaxing safety precautions as the variant of the virus, B.1.1.7 that was seen in the UK and is also known as the UK variant is reported to be extremely contagious. Medical professionals worry about the rise in cases due to this new variant of the virus.
This is because reports show the B.1.1.7 variant to affect at least 30 % to 40 % of the new cases. The number gives enough cause for alarm as according to Dr. Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, the cases related to the B.1.1.7 variant were only 1% to 2% a few weeks ago. He explains that when the numbers in Europe hit the 50% benchmark the cases surged.
Several officials are on the same page with regards to combating the virus. Dr. Tom Friedel the previous director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the US echoed the need for vigilance and caution. He stated, “We’re not done yet, Covid isn’t done with us. The variants are still a risk. You don’t declare victory in the third quarter.”
There is reason to hope for better circumstances in a few months however one must remain cautious and vigilant. As per the opinion of Dr. Chris Murray, who is the director of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the situation is likely to slowly get better. Although he did express that, “In our worst scenario, where people stop wearing masks faster, start having gatherings faster, then you can see a surge in April”.