Ever since the first case of COVID-19, information about the virus has dominated the news. Beginning with a single person in Wuhan, China, the coronavirus has spread around the world, causing the death of thousands and destroying the lives of millions of others. But after cases reached its peak this January, numbers in America have been dropping ever since. How can this be?
A combination of factors have resulted in a decline: better preventative safety measures taken, coming off the high numbers from the holidays, and population immunity (NOT herd immunity). Also, over 14 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, but this is a tiny percentage of the total US population, and vaccines take several weeks to become effective. Additionally, people are becoming more aware about the importance of social distancing and mask-wearing.
Although COVID-19 cases are in decline, the pandemic is far from over. Deaths remain very high and mutations are continuing to crop up. For example, the highly contagious B.1.1.7 variant has been reported in 37 states and the B.1351 strain in 17 US cases. The new mutations are relatively rare, but be prepared for them to spread fast, since they are highly infectious. Many health experts advise state leaders to not ease coronavirus restrictions, because despite the drop in numbers, there is still a long way to go.
Unfortunately, the vaccination process is taking much longer than officials predicted. Different states and regions have been handling the vaccine situation in different ways. For example, Washingtonis focusing on administering second doses, while in Los Angeles, several vaccination sites were forced to close as a result of vaccine shortages.
Debates over reopening schools still continues as well. The CDC’s reopening guidance did not list vaccination as a key strategy for opening schools, stating that vaccinations for teachers and staff were a supplement to other actions, such as mask wearing and social distancing. However, many experts disagree, stating that teacher vaccinations are essential to the return to in-person school.