Uptick in COVID-19 Cases Alarms Officials

After a long period of decline, cases are creeping upward again.

Geriatrician Megan Young, left, gives Edouard Joseph, 91, a COVID-19 vaccination Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021, at his home in the Mattapan neighborhood of Boston.Steven Senne/AP

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As spring begins to take hold across the United States and vaccination rates continue to improve, it might be tempting to think that the coronavirus pandemic is over and some semblance of normal can return.

But officials are warning that cases are actually going back up, and things could get worse if we’re not careful. In fact, the United States is averaging roughly 57,000 new cases per day, a seven percent increase from the week before.

“I remain deeply concerned about this trajectory,” US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said this week. “We have seen cases and hospitalizations from historic declines, to stagnations, to increases. And we know form prior surges that if we don’t control things now, there is a real potential for the epidemic curve to soar again.”

More than 1,200 new deaths were reported on Friday, according to the New York Times, along with 75,2724 new cases. Since early March, the United States has averaged between 54,000 and 59,000 new cases per day, and some states are seeing major rises in case numbers. On Wednesday, the Michigan Health & Hospital Association reported that between March 1 and March 24, coronavirus hospitalizations increased by 633 percent for those aged 30 to 39, and 800 percent for those aged 40 to 49, the Detroit Free Press reported this week. Even with rising vaccine rates in the state, Dr. Nick Gilpin, the medical director of infection prevention and epidemiology for Beaumont Health, one of the large health systems in the state, said cases are “rising at a pretty alarming rate” likely due to COVID-19 variants and eased restrictions. 

“It’s people gathering more amongst one another, and it’s also the presence of these variants,” he said. “I know people are starting to go crazy. I know the weather is starting to get warm. And I know people want to get outside and some restrictions have been lifted. But as we start to see these cases rise, people in Michigan … need to consider that there’s still a possibility of infection out there.”

Officials in Ohio reported Friday the largest single-day increase in a month. Numbers in more than a dozen other states are also going up, CNBC reported last week.

The news comes as vaccination rates continue to rise. More than 48 million people have been fully vaccinated—nearly 15 percent of the US population—with total vaccinations coming in at more 2 million per day, according to NPR. President Joe Biden said Thursday that he was setting a new vaccination goal of 200 million doses administered by his 100th day in office, doubling the previous goal. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and one of the US government’s main voices on coronavirus protocols, told the Washington Post in a story posted this morning that he believes the United States is on track to meet Biden’s aim of limited backyard gatherings for the July 4th holiday, but backsliding could happen. “It depends on how well we do in maintaining public health measures and continuing the vaccine program,” he said. “It’s possible that vaccine hesitancy won’t allow us to get enough people vaccinated.”

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