Mar. 29, 2021 -- After a plateau for several weeks, COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are going up again, which could point to another surge.
The seven-day average of cases is about 57,000 cases per day, which represents an increase of 7% from the previous week.
“We know from prior surges that if we don’t control things now, there is a real potential for the epidemic curve to soar again,” Rochelle Walensky, MD, director of the CDC, said during a press briefing on Friday.
People are eager to return to their pre-pandemic lives this spring, but Walensky said she’s still “deeply concerned” about another surge. Cases are climbing in 33 states, and hospitalizations rates are on the rise again with about 4,700 per day, she said. COVID-19 deaths continue to hover around 1,000 per day.
As cases plateaued, states began lifting some COVID-19 restrictions and face mask mandates throughout March.
Arizona, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, and Texas have lifted their mask mandates and allowed many businesses, including restaurants and bars, to fully reopen, according to NBC News.
North Carolina has reopened businesses, and Connecticut and Maryland are rolling back restrictions as well.
In some states, businesses are filled to capacity, and popular spring break locations are crowded, the news outlet reported. Walensky urged Americans to “hold on for just a little while longer” as vaccinations roll out by continuing to wear masks in public, avoiding crowds, and following social distancing guidelines.
“We’re communicating with a fatigued public,” she said. “We can turn this around, but it will take all of us working together.”
The U.S. has shipped 180 million vaccine doses, and 91.7 million people have received at least one shot, which represents 27.6% of the population, according to the latest CDC tally updated on Saturday. More than 50 million people have received two doses, and 15% of the population is now fully vaccinated.
About 2.6 million doses are being administered each day. The U.S. reported a daily record of 3.38 million shots on Friday and another daily record of 3.49 million shots on Saturday, Cyrus Shahpar, the White House COVID-19 data director, wrote in a Twitter post.
States are opening up eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines, with 47 states saying that ages 16 and older will be able to get a vaccine by May 1, according to CBS News. Arkansas, New York and Wyoming haven’t yet announced their plans.
Scientists are studying whether vaccinated people can spread the virus, CBS News reported. The clinical trial started on Thursday and will follow 12,000 vaccinated college students and their contacts at more than 20 universities across the country.
“We hope that, within the next five or so months, we’ll be able to answer the very important question about whether vaccinated people get infected asymptomatically, and if they do, do they transmit the infection to others,” Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during the press briefing on Friday.
“This will help inform science-based decisions about mask use and about social distancing post-vaccination,” he said.