While the growth of COVID-19 cases across the United States has slowed, it remains a tremendous danger. The daily growth of confirmed cases has slowed to less than 100,000 from much more than twice that amount three short months ago. New fatal cases per day now run as low as 1,000, which is much as three-quarters lower than the peak. Nevertheless, there have been 29,719,808 confirmed cases so far, which is about 25% of the world’s total. Fatal cases in the United States number 541,030, about 20% of the global total.
A new forecast from one of the top COVID-19 research organizations, The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, is that 598,523 people will die of COVID-19 by July 1. However, the number could be higher if America reopens too quickly, according to the same analysis.
One of two challenges to further slowing the spread of the disease is the variants, some of which may spread faster than the version that infected most people from last January until recently. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracks three of these for the public: the B.1.1.7, B.1.351 and P.1 variants. These variants are now in all 50 states, and epidemiologists believe that there are more than just three.
The other challenge is the opening up of parts of the United States. Texas, the second-largest state by population, is a case in point. The governor has dropped the state’s mask mandate, allowed a renewal of social gatherings and opened businesses. Public health officials worry this may cause a fourth wave of the disease.
Vaccination rates have risen quickly in the past two weeks. The Biden administration says it will have enough vaccines for all Americans by May 1. At this point, 21% of Americans have received at least one dose and 12% have been fully vaccinated. “Fully vaccinated” depends on which vaccine a person is given. With the Moderna and Pfizer versions, it is two shots. With Johnson & Johnson, it just one. Nationwide, 135,847,835 doses have been delivered and 109,081,860 shots have been given.
The state that has done the best job fully vaccinating its population is Alaska at 18%. It is also at the top of the list of states that have given at least one dose with a figure of 28%. From the 472,395 doses delivered to Alaska, 337,141 shots have been given, for a ratio of 71%, well below the national average.
Why has Alaska done so well? One reason the state points to is that its Native American and military populations have been vaccinated quickly because of government programs. Each of these groups makes up a large portion of Alaska’s population. Nevertheless, for a state so vast and with some of its population living in areas far from its cities, the number is impressive.