The battle to essentially end the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. involves three factors:
Vaccination rates. President Biden wants vaccines available to all American adults by May 1. Vaccination rates have picked up. Some 19% of Americans have been given one or more doses to date, and 10% have been fully vaccinated. Even if enough doses become available and distribution functions smoothly, however, a significant proportion of the population — at least a quarter, if not more — has thus far indicated that they will refuse to get the shots. These are the states where the most people are refusing the vaccine.
The rise of variants. These may prove to be more dangerous than the COVID-19 strain that began infecting Americans as early as last January.
The rapid “reopening” of some states, like Texas, where mask and social gathering mandates have been dropped. Public officials worry about a fourth surge of the disease if Americans are careless.
There’s good news and bad news about the status of COVID-19 in the U.S. As of today, the country has recorded 29,506,986 confirmed cases. Cases were increasing by as many as 225,000 a day two months ago; they’ve dropped below 100,000 most days recently. Fatalities now number 535,758. At their worst, they rose by over 4,000 a day, but the number presently runs closer to 1,000. Nevertheless, American confirmed cases represent a staggering 25% of the global total, and deaths are about 20% of the world’s number.
Variants of the original virus are also increasingly worrisome. The New York Times recently estimated that variants are responsible for as many as 20% of all new confirmed cases every day. The CDC tracks many of the variants — particularly those identified as B.1.1.7, B.1.351, and P.1, but scientists say there are likely more than these three.
One of America’s largest cities has raised an alarm about how quickly variants have begun to spread within its borders.