Mar. 19, 2021 -- Though coronavirus case counts and deaths are dropping across the country, health experts say the United States could still experience a resurgence in the COVID-19 pandemic because of emerging variants and a loosening of safety measures.
"I don't expect to see something as bad as we just recovered from, but if we're not careful, cases can rise again if we let our guard down too soon," Tara Smith, MD, a professor of epidemiology at Kent State University College of Public Health, told ABC News.
The national daily case count dropped 32.5% over the last month, but 15 states have recently reported increases of at least 10% in daily case counts, ABC reported, based on CDC statistics.
Those states are Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, and West Virginia.
A CNN analysis found a rising seven-day moving average of daily cases in 14 states: Alabama, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
Some of those states have dropped face mask mandates and other safety restrictions.
Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist and head of the University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, said he thought Minnesota was “a harbinger of things to come.”
“We're loosening up all the restrictions we've had, and in some ways creating a perfect storm moment for virus transmission, whether it's a variant or not,” he said.
Last week the CDC issued a report showing that case counts went down in states with mask mandates and went up in states where inside restaurant dining was allowed. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said that’s a good reason why governments should maintain safety measures.
"The combination of rapid reopening, increasing mobility and spread of new COVID variants is likely driving the upward trend in cases in many parts of the country,” John Brownstein, chief innovation officer at Boston Children's Hospital, told ABC News. "While we should feel optimistic with the vaccine rollout, the new surge, even if short-lived, will likely result in avoidable hospitalizations and deaths."