- There are five primary places where most of the coronavirus transmission is happening in the US right now, according to public health experts.
- They include hotels and churches, as well as three that can be grouped together — restaurants, bars, and cafes.
- There have been more than 27 million coronavirus cases identified in the US since the pandemic began.
The coronavirus-related news in the US has been refreshingly positive in recent days, starting with this — coronavirus transmission has actually been on a decline of late.
Despite a report the CDC published a month ago predicting that COVID cases would likely keep growing through February, US COVID-related hospitalizations are down almost 50% over the past month. New daily cases themselves are also decreasing. According to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University, there have been 27.8 million coronavirus cases identified in the US since the pandemic began, along with more than 491,000 deaths. There are several reasons for the decline and the overall good news at the moment, which is related to behaviors that people ought to recommit themselves to practicing now in order to keep up the momentum.
Here where I live in Memphis, for example, restaurant owners are celebrating the good news that many COVID-related restrictions are being lifted this weekend, including certain capacity limits and a mandate to have shorter operating hours. That’s because our numbers here have been going in the right direction.
FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver focuses on the larger scope, and why things could also deteriorate quickly if we’re not careful. In terms of the race against time that he mentions — between increased vaccinations and seasonal effects on the virus weighed against COVID variants and behavioral changes — let’s focus on the latter.
Good thread here. It's really a race between, one the one hand:
– increased community immunity from vaccines (and to a lesser degree natural infections)
– probably some seasonality
– behavioral changes (i.e. people relaxing as cases decline) https://t.co/Atba56IhXL
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) February 18, 2021
What public health experts are especially worried about right now is that the nuance of all this will be lost on too many people — people who will look at the declines, think everything is better now, and rush out to do normal things again, like eating inside restaurants.
In an interview on New Day, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta stressed that we don’t have to have lockdowns as long as people continue to wear face masks and avoid these five locations at all costs — because conditions are such that coronavirus transmission is easily facilitated here:
We’ll group three of the five together, since they’re related — bars, cafes, and restaurants. It should be pretty clear why that’s the case, one reason being you’ve got an indoor setting, plus you’ve got multiple patrons in proximity to each other, and you have to take off your face mask to eat and drink, so they’re mask-less as well.
The two other problematic locations Dr. Gupta mentioned are hotels and churches. Hotels, especially, because so many people pass through them over the course of the day, many of whom could have come from airports and are potential spreaders of COVID.
“It’s really these five primary locations where 80 percent of viral transmissions are happening in our society,” Gupta said.