- With the coronavirus still spreading across the country, hospitalizations in the U.S. are at a record level.
- Health experts warn that the pandemic is likely to get even worse in January due to Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations.
- One positive is that some states, such as Iowa and Minnesota, have seen their coronavirus infection rates drop drastically.
Despite all of the well-deserved optimism surrounding the rollout of coronavirus vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, the reality is that we’re still a long way from putting the coronavirus behind us. Even if we assume that a majority of Americans opt to take a vaccine — which is required to achieve herd immunity — it’s going to take some time for Pfizer and Moderna to manufacture a sufficient number of doses. In a best-case scenario, the White House said that every American should have access to a coronavirus vaccine by June.
In the interim, the coronavirus is still spreading and, in turn, is putting a serious strain on hospitals across the country. As it stands now, the U.S. is seeing an average of 2,250 coronavirus-related deaths per day, a figure which is 5x higher than the death rate back in July. What’s more, hospitalizations are skyrocketing at a level we haven’t seen since the pandemic began. Across the country — and in California and Texas in particular — ICUs in hospitals are operating at full or near-capacity.
There are, however, a few bright spots amidst all this chaos. Across the country, there are a few states where the coronavirus infection rate is on the decline and outbreaks are seemingly under control.
Oregon, for example, has seen its coronavirus infection rate drop by 32% over the last two weeks. During the same timeframe, coronavirus-related deaths and hospitalizations in the state have dropped by 43% and 12%, respectively.
One state that has managed to impressively turn things around is Minnesota. Back in November, the state was seeing upwards of 7,800 new COVID-19 cases every single day. Fast forward a few weeks and the state on Tuesday reported 972 cases. Over the last two weeks, the COVID-19 infection rate in Minnesota has gone down by 60% while the death rate dropped by 34%.
Other states that have done a solid job of preventing coronavirus outbreaks over the last two weeks include Hawaii, Vermont, Colorado, and Iowa. Three of these states — Hawaii, Colorado, and Iowa — have seen their coronavirus death rate drop anywhere from 50-75% in recent weeks.
A substantial decline in coronavirus infections in a particular state, however, isn’t necessarily a reason to celebrate fully. As we’ve seen play out countless times, people tend to take coronavirus safety guidelines less seriously when the infection rate is on the decline. Before long, outbreaks start occurring and the infection rate reverses course.
On a related note, it’s important not to let the excitement regarding new coronavirus vaccines lead to a lapse in safety.
“We get so kind of blinded by vaccine euphoria — the light at the end of the tunnel — that we underestimate how long that tunnel is, and how dangerous that tunnel is,” Peter Sands, an executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, said recently.
Looking ahead, many health experts, including Fauci, believe that January could be the worst month of the entire pandemic.
“I think January is going to be terrible because you’re going to have the Thanksgiving surge super-imposed upon the Christmas surge,” Fauci said earlier this month. “So it’s entirely conceivable that January could be the worst.”
As a result, Dr. Fauci over the past few weeks has stressed on numerous occasions that people, whenever possible, should avoid indoor gatherings, travel, and going to bars and restaurants.