Public health experts encouraged Americans to continue social distancing and wearing masks at a potentially critical tipping point of the pandemic, one in which highly effective vaccines could bring relief, but fervor to reopen public life. could inadvertently spread new variants of Covid-19.
The warnings come the same week that Texas and Mississippi opened the doors to normal social life in their states.
Coronavirus cases have declined across much of the United States since mid-January, a point at which the peak of the third wave saw more than 4,000 Covid-19 deaths per day. However, there are still cases “extremely high“According to data watchers, and it could stabilize at a point equivalent to the peak of the summer of 2020.
“Everyone is focused on the big declines in the number of cases, pretending that the plateau is not really substantial and oblivious to the impact of B117,” a highly communicable variant first identified in the UK, said Dr Peter. Hotez, a vaccine researcher and dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Houston School of Medicine, Texas.
The potential plateau, highly communicable new variants, and the decision to reopen when vaccines have reached relatively few people “has all the makings of a fourth wave and gives me a lot of pause to worry,” Hotez said.
On Wednesday, after a devastating winter ice storm, Greg Abbott, the Republican governor of Texas, ended all pandemic restrictions and opened the state to “100%.” The Republican governor of Mississippi soon followed suit, lifting the mask mandates at all activities except schools and large stadiums.
Only 16.3% of the US population has been vaccinated against Covid-19, or approximately 54 million people according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Texas, vaccines have reached only 13.6% of the population.
The movements provoked an immediate protest. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner called the lifting of pandemic restrictions a “system-wide failure of state leadership,” while Joe Biden called the decision “Neanderthal thinking.”
However, intense pressure to reopen businesses has also prompted many Democratic-led cities and states to begin tiptoeing toward reopening. Massachusetts ended capacity limits in restaurants, although social distancing remains, and allowed live music to resume.
New York City is expected to reopen theaters this Friday with restrictions. Because New York City is a Hollywood market leader, the measure is likely to pressure Los Angeles to do the same. Y San Francisco reopened aquariums, gyms, indoor dining and museums this week.
The changes occurred even when the CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky cautioned reopening too quickly could threaten “hard-earned ground.”
Hotez said people should know: “The message is: vaccines are here, just wait.” That message was repeated by the CDC, which in this week’s draft guidelines said fully vaccinated Americans could gather in small groups without masks, while continuing to wear masks and social distance in public.
At the same time, a series of reports from the CDC this week highlighted the continuing dangers of Covid-19. One CDC report tracked the journey of one of the first patients diagnosed with the B117 variants in the US and the variant’s ability to spread even with restrictions in place.
The patient in question traveled to the UK for the holidays, met a sick relative at a family reunion on Christmas Eve, and developed mild Covid-like symptoms immediately before taking a transatlantic flight back to Dallas, Texas. . A few days before the flight, the patient tested negative for Covid-19, but used a low-specificity antigen test.
Once the patient arrived in Dallas, they drove eight hours across the state; stopped five times for food, gasoline and groceries; They came home with worse symptoms and eventually tested positive for Covid-19 variant B117.
In another report Released by the CDC this week, the agency found that the Covid-19 rate among children in Mississippi was likely 10 times worse than the number of reported cases, and it had infected perhaps one in six children last September.
TO third report highlighted the association between restaurant meals, mask mandates, and transmission of Covid-19. The agency found that mask mandates lowered transmission and death rates, while any restaurant on the premises tended to increase transmission and death rates.
To completely stop the spread of Covid-19, a nuanced concept called “herd immunity,” scientists believe the US would need to vaccinate the vast majority of adults. Even if vaccine manufacturers can produce enough doses to reach all American adults by the end of May, as Biden has promised, vaccine vacillation, poor distribution and logistical barriers could still derail the immunization campaign.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism