While the United States is advancing COVID-19 vaccination in full swing, the COVID-19 epidemic in some states shows signs of deterioration. Health officials worry that the spread of the mutant virus and people’s relaxation of vigilance will negate the effect of vaccination on the epidemic.
According to data from the US Department of Health, the number of coronavirus infections in Michigan and Minnesota has recently surged, and the number of confirmed and suspected cases received by hospitals in the two places has risen by 70% and 32%, respectively. The number of hospitalizations per day in New York and New Jersey also stopped falling and rebounded.
According to a Bloomberg follow-up report, the population vaccinated rate in these four states is between 19% and 21%, which is consistent with the overall national level.
Relaxation of epidemic prevention measures, variant viruses spread faster
Reich, an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said that if another serious outbreak occurs, the benefits of universal vaccination for Americans will inevitably diminish.
Especially at this time when many states begin to abolish restrictive measures, this development trend is even more worrying. Because in addition to the faster spread of variant viruses, loose control and fatigue from epidemic prevention are all possible factors leading to the increase in cases. It is worth noting that the United States is currently on spring break, which may have an impact on the epidemic in the next few weeks.
Reich said: “We are on a straight track close to the finish line. This is the last lap of the race. But in some areas, the mutant virus seems to be a little bit ahead. Very close. Four weeks later, I’m not sure about these places. Can the situation be overtaken.”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention focuses on five variant viruses, namely the B117 strain first discovered in the UK, P1 in Brazil, B1351 in South Africa, and B1427 and B1429 in California.
Spring break pushes up the number of tourists or creates another wave of epidemics
Most variant viruses are more infectious and will prevent antibody drugs from neutralizing the virus. The CDC says that people infected with B117 may also be more severely ill.
The United States saw an average daily increase of about 55,000 cases last week. Although this was only about one-fifth of the first week of January, it was slightly higher than the previous week. CDC Director Valensky pointed out at a press conference on Monday that the number of new cases in the Northeast and Midwest has increased sharply.
At the same time, the parallel line of hospitalization rates across the country is also worrying, as hospitalization rates in January and February have been declining. Although the number of deaths from coronary disease has remained declining, the rate of decline in the past week has slowed.
Valensky said that the United States should treat these latest figures as “warning signs.” “With the high number of cases and the rapid spread of variant viruses throughout the United States, repeated relaxation of restrictions poses a serious threat to the progress made in the country’s fight against the epidemic.”
Data from the US Transportation Security Administration showed that 1.5 million passengers boarded at US airports last Sunday, the highest since March 15 last year. Most travellers are tourists on spring break.
The city of Miami Beach, Florida, declared a state of emergency and curfew because thousands of college students gathered to celebrate the spring break.
Valensky warned that this is not the time to travel. If Americans do not increase their vigilance, they may not be able to avoid another wave of epidemics that could be avoided.
She said: “We have to worry not only about what will happen on the plane, but also what will happen when people travel. That is, they go out, gather, and come into contact with people who have not been vaccinated.”