The pace of the spread of COVID-19 had slowed across America. Increases in daily fatal and confirmed cases are still about half what they were seven weeks ago. Nevertheless, 560,601 Americans have died, which is about 20% of the world’s total. Confirmed cases have reached 30,925,269, or about 25% of the global number. Hospitalizations, which had reached over 100,000 during the peak wave, dropped into the thousands. However, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services reports they have begun to rise again in more than half the states.
The pace of the spread of the disease remains in part a race between vaccinations and the rising number of potentially dangerous variants. So far, 32% of the adult population has received at least one dose of vaccine and 19% are fully vaccinated. While the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots, the one from Johnson & Johnson requires just a single dose. According to The New York Times, 207,891,395 doses have been delivered in the United States and 167,187,795 of them have been administered.
One worry public health officials have is that much of the country has “opened up,” and this has caused worries that there will be a fourth wave of the disease. Just two weeks ago, the nation’s newspapers were filled with reports of large college parties in Florida with hundreds of people in close proximity without masks. More people flew over the Easter weekend than any other weekend since the start of the pandemic. This kind of activity has led to public health officials predicting that fourth wave.
Variants of the disease are among the dangers epidemiologist and public health officials worry about. At least one, which originated in the United Kingdom, could soon account for most new U.S. cases. This variant also could be more deadly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently tracks three variants for the public. They have been found in all 50 states, and a number of other variants have emerged that the CDC does not report on to the public.
One variant that has been watched carefully was first identified in India. The BBC recently reported, “Officials are checking if the variant, where two mutations come together in the same virus, may be more infectious or less affected by vaccines.”
This new variant was just found in California: “Just as California seemed to be on the verge of truly turning the Covid-19 corner, the Stanford Clinical Virology Lab confirmed a case of an emerging variant that originated in India, Deadline has learned.”
How troubling is the news? Experts say that the variant spread faster than the one that has infected most Americans since January 2020. However, there is no evidence that current vaccines are not effective against it.