Another coronavirus surge could be just around the corner, US public health officials say, and now is not the time to relax COVID-19 restrictions.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said on Sunday that while the number of new daily infections is significantly lower than in January, it has stalled at what remains a very high number.
“Historically, if you look at the different surges we’ve had, when they go down and then they start to stabilize at a very high level, stabilizing at a level of 60 to 70,000 new cases per day is not an acceptable level. That’s really high, “Fauci said in an interview on CBS’s” Face the Nation. “
“And if you look at what happened in Europe a few weeks ago, they are usually a couple of weeks ahead of us in these patterns, they were also going down and then they stalled. And for the last week or so, they’ve had a 9% increase in cases. “
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Several states have recently lowered restrictions as infection rates have fallen from the peaks of the COVID-19 surge in winter. California plans to reopen schools, outdoor sports stadiums, outdoor live performances and Disneyland in April, while Texas and Mississippi are lifting face mask mandates despite pleas from health officials.
Fauci cautioned that mitigation measures need to be eased slowly and carefully: “But don’t flip that switch on and off because it would really be risky to have another surge again, which we don’t want to happen because we’re getting stuck at a – a pretty high level.”
Their concerns were echoed by infectious disease specialist Dr. Celine Gounder, who warned that the most contagious new variants of COVID-19 are spreading rapidly, especially variant B.1.1.7, first discovered in the Kingdom. United.
“That tension is increasing exponentially. It’s going up, “Gounder told CNN. “So we are probably at a tipping point of another surge right now.”
Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that the current vaccination rate is not fast enough to stop the spread of the new variants. .
“We are in the eye of the hurricane right now,” Osterholm said. “Things are going very well, we see blue skies.” But the UK variant “is about to hit us,” he said. “Today it is wreaking havoc in parts of Europe.”
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Osterholm said the UK variant has grown from 1% to 4% of all cases in the United States about a month ago to around 30% to 40% now. “What we’ve seen in Europe, when we hit that 50% mark, you see an increase in cases.”
To counter the threat, Osterholm said the United States must not relent on coronavirus restrictions and must work to vaccinate the population even faster.
However, Fauci said the United States is on the right track. “Every day that we keep the lid on things will get better and better, because now we are putting at least 2 million vaccines in people’s arms every day. … So we are heading in the right direction. We just have to hold out a little longer. “
As of Sunday night, the US has recorded 28.9 million COVID-19 cases and nearly 525,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Both are by far the largest number of countries in the world.