The pace at which COVID-19 has spread across America has slowed. Daily confirmed case and fatal case increases are less than half what they were two months ago, when there were 225,000 additional cases a day and as many as 4,000 deaths. Nevertheless, the toll has been brutal. According to the Bing COVID-19 Tracker, 531,398 Americans have died, which is about 20% of the world total. Confirmed cases have reached 29,337,446, about a quarter of the global number. Many scientists believe the U.S. figure is far too low because of poor testing across much of the nation.
Vaccinations have joined mask wearing and social distancing as primary weapons against the spread of the disease. There are three vaccines now, from Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer. The Biden administration says there will be enough vaccine for all Americans by the end of May. Almost 18% of Americans have received at least one dose of vaccine. some 9.5% have received two doses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 116,378,615 doses have been delivered, and from these, 92,089,852 shots have been given.
One of the primary causes, if not the primary one, of concern among epidemiologists is the rise of variants, which appear to be the main driver of new infections. The CDC tracks three variants for the public, identified as the B.1.1.7, B.1.351 and P.1 variants. One or more of these has been found in 49 states.
So far, according to the CDC, there are 3,037 reported cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, 81 reported cases of B.1.351 variant and 15 reported cases of the P.1 variant. These figures are misleading, as The New York Times reports: “As U.S. coronavirus cases remain at a low not seen since October, a more contagious variant first reported in the United Kingdom has likely grown to account for more than 20 percent of new U.S. cases as of this week, according to an analysis of data from Helix, a lab testing company.” The U.K. variant is the one known as B.1.1.7.
Only one state has no reported cases of the three variants tracked on behalf of the public by the CDC. That is South Dakota. The majority of cases are in Florida (642 reported variant cases), Michigan (437), California (262), Georgia (171) and New York (136).
The other extent to which the CDC data is misleading is the presence of other variants that have been discovered around America. The Mercury News says of these homegrown variants:
There is also another variant of concern in California, what appears to be a homegrown variant known as B.1.427 and B.1.429. This variant is now spreading widely in California, and research out of UCSF suggests it may make people sicker and it may be more contagious than the earlier coronavirus.
Apparently, yet another one has emerged in New York State.
The CDC report that one state has no variants may not even be true.