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U.S. COVID-19 Cases Drop as Spring Wave Slows

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May 4, 2021 -- COVID-19 cases continue to decline in the U.S. as the spring surge that began in March subsides.

The daily average of new infections has reached the lowest point since mid-October, falling below 50,000. More than 40 states are reporting lower cases, and hospitals in Michigan and the Midwest aren’t seeing the same rush of patients as in mid-April.

“Things are all very encouraging … because so many people are vaccinated and because there had already been a fair amount of infection and because we’re moving into the spring,” Natalie Dean, a biostatistician at the University of Florida, told the Washington Post.

“There could be smaller, local flare-ups, but in general, things are looking really good as we move into the summer,” she said.

At the same time, cases are increasing along the West Coast. Oregon has seen a 42% jump in cases during the past 2 weeks, the newspaper reported, and Washington has reported a 22% increase. Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming have also reported slight increases.

Contagious variants are leading to case increases in some states. The B.1.1.7 variant, which was first identified in the U.K., now represents about 60% of cases in the country, according to the CDC.

Vaccinations have protected the most vulnerable groups, and now young people between ages 20-29 outnumber older patients in hospitals, The Washington Post reported. The U.S. has administered more than 245 vaccinations, according to the latest CDC tally updated on Sunday. About 56% of adults have received at least one dose, and 40% are considered fully vaccinated.

However, vaccination rates have dropped since mid-April, when the country peaked at 3.4 million shots per day. Now the average is about 2.7 million per day, and rates are dropping in every state.

“Now it’s the hard work of getting to the people who are in the middle who are sort of wishy-washy — ‘Do I want a vaccine or do I not?’” Janis Orlowski, chief health care officer for the Association of American Medical Colleges, told the newspaper.

The U.S. may not reach “herd immunity,” where enough people are vaccinated to get rid of the virus altogether, according to The New York Times. As vaccination rates continue to drop and variants continue to emerge, the coronavirus will most likely become a manageable threat that circulates across the country.

“The virus is unlikely to go away,” Rustom Antia, an evolutionary biologist at Emory University, told the newspaper.

“But we want to do all we can to check that it’s likely to become a mild infection,” he said.

WebMD Health News Brief

Sources

The Washington Post: “U.S. coronavirus cases drop as spring wave of infections ebbs.”
CDC: “COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States.”

CDC: “COVID Data Tracker: Variant Proportions.”

The New York Times: “Reaching ‘Herd Immunity’ Is Unlikely in the U.S., Experts Now Believe.”

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