What a difference 1,000 miles makes.
Recently in Michigan, the seven-day average for new COVID-19 daily cases rose. From just over 1,000 per day to more than 7,800 per day. Blame was placed on the more contagious and deadly U.K. variant.
Recently in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis suspended all local coronavirus emergency orders. Regarding mask mandates and social distance policies. He said there is no need “to be policing people at this point.”
From day one, different states have enacted different rules and restrictions. Hot spots have jumped from one area of the country to another.
The Ebb and Flow
The United States has had more confirmed cases (32.5 million as of this writing) and deaths (577,000) from COVID-19 than any other country.
But the average number of new daily cases in the U.S. has dropped to just under 50,000. The peak occurred on January 8. That’s when 300,669 new cases were reported.
In Western states such as Colorado, Oregon and Washington, however, numbers are ticking up again.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown has placed 15 counties into the extreme risk category. That includes banning indoor restaurant dining. In Washington and Colorado, officials were considering adding on to restrictions.
‘Helpless Cries of Pain’ in India
Globally, new cases, hospitalizations and deaths have shot up recently. The world’s COVID-19 hotspot right now is India. More than 20 million cases have been reported there.
Among those are 3.5 million actively being treated for the virus. Shortages of beds and life-saving supplies are collapsing the healthcare system.
Even some of the best-equipped hospitals in India have oxygen shortages. And that’s leading to a death total that has soared past 220,000.
One reporter visiting a hospital in northern India said she saw more than 20 patients on the floor. They were struggling to breathe. “Helpless cries of pain filled the air,” she reported. “Not a single doctor was in attendance.”
Maybe Worse Than Reported
Some medical experts say the number of cases and deaths in India is grossly underreported. Due to the lack of testing in many areas.
One state in India, Maharashtra, has reported 4.8 million cases. That’s approximately the same total as in all of Russia.
Everyone 18 years of age or older in India can legally get a vaccine. But there is a significant shortage of vaccines available.
As of earlier this month, nearly 160 million vaccine doses had been administered. But in a country with a population of 1.4 billion, that’s a drop in the bucket.
Not Everyone Wants a Shot
Speaking of vaccines, here in America health officials are worried. They fear not enough people will get vaccinated to reach herd immunity.
It’s not from a lack of vaccines. There are plenty to go around. Specifically, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
And it’s not the current percentage of adults who have been vaccinated. According to the CDC, 55.4 percent of U.S. adults have been vaccinated.
Their concern is the low percentage of unvaccinated Americans who plan to be vaccinated when they can.
Herd Immunity Out of Reach?
A recent Yahoo News/YouGov poll showed this. Only 6 percent of non-vaccinated adults plans to be vaccinated “as soon as it is available to me.” That’s down from 35 percent in February.
Some 20 percent say they will “never” get vaccinated. Ten percent are waiting to see what happens with people who get vaccinated. Seven percent say they are unsure.
Experts claim about 80 percent of Americans – of all ages – would need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. At this rate, it appears unlikely that more than 65 percent will be.
Another discussion sure to be in full swing by summer pertains to booster shots. Current vaccines offer protection for only six to 12 months. So, what percentage of vaccinated Americans will get the booster to presumably keep them protected?
Complacency Now May Cost Us Later
Some medical experts are concerned about something else. They believe people will become complacent if the number of new cases in the U.S. decreases during the spring and summer.
They’ll stop wearing masks and won’t practice social distancing. Experts say that will open the floodgates for another surge once colder weather sets in.
Samuel Scarpino models the coronavirus outbreak at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. Here’s what he says.
“We can’t get to (herd immunity) now. If we’re below 60 to 70 percent vaccination for COVID when we enter the fall respiratory season, that could easily tip us into an emergency situation.”
Stay the Course
Businesses opening up again have been blamed for increases in new cases. But statistics don’t always bear that out.
In Texas and Florida where restrictions were recently lifted, new case numbers have gone down somewhat.
From the beginning of the pandemic, health and political officials have tried to achieve a balance. They’ve weighed the effects of restrictions on the economy against the effects of the virus on people’s health. That’s likely to continue.
In America, it seems like there’s more light at the end of the tunnel now than there was before. But we have to keep heading in the right direction to reach it.