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This past week, average daily cases of COVID-19 reached approximately 57,315. However, many people are acting as though the pandemic is nearly over. What exactly is happening? To find out, read the below updates about the COVID-19 pandemic.
National numbers of people vaccinated
In the United States, approximately 87.3 million people, 26.3 percent of the population, have received one or both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Additionally, about 47.4 million people, about 14.3 percent of the U.S. population, are fully vaccinated.
California has the highest number of COVID-19 vaccinations administered with approximately 10,757,446 doses, and about 13.6 percent of its population is fully vaccinated. Texas, Florida, and New York follow after California.
The state with the lowest amount of vaccinations is Wyoming, with approximately 146,634 vaccinations administered. However, about 16.5 percent of Wyoming’s population has been fully vaccinated, as Wyoming has the smallest population of all the states.
In many places, case rates are increasing
Recently, Michigan has seen a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases. In the last month, infection rates have increased by nearly 82 percent. This spike may stem from Michigan having the second-highest number of cases of the B.1.1.7 variant. Additionally, research has shown that approximately 70 percent of people did not isolate after showing symptoms of COVID-19, and this lack of quarantining has been attributed to the rise in cases.
In New Jersey, COVID-19 cases are on the rise, and more than 2,000 people in the state are currently hospitalized for COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), New Jersey recently averaged approximately 4,151 new coronavirus infections per day during a one-week span, giving the state the second-worst case rate in the country behind Florida’s 4,564 per day average.
Easing mask restrictions and social distancing
Experts are worried about another COVID-19 surge, as public fatigue when it comes to mask-wearing and social distancing can lead to increased case rates. Additionally, the uncertain effect of COVID-19 variants could be fueling the ongoing case rate increases even as vaccination rates are increasing.
Mask-wearing, social distancing, and avoiding non-essential travel are important in decreasing the spread of the COVID-19 virus and its variants. According to updated CDC guidelines, everyone, including fully vaccinated people, should follow social distancing guidelines and wear a face mask.
Brazil’s ongoing challenges with the P.1 variant
In December, scientists detected a variant in Brazil called P.1 that had several mutations in its spike protein. Hospitalizations increased as the variant spread. On Wednesday, Brazil topped 300,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, becoming the second country to do so behind the United States.
A team of British and Brazilian researchers theorized that, this month, the P.1 variant could be about two times more transmissible than the original strain. The CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) have not yet publicly endorsed the study.
However, the CDC and other health experts have recognized that the Brazil variant does have mutations in its spike protein, making it appear to be more resistant to current antibody treatments and vaccines. Scientists believe that the impact of variants can decrease if the public follows CDC mask-wearing and social distancing guidelines while vaccination proceeds.