CDC Director, Rochelle Walensky has expressed concerns about people’s general attitude shift towards Covid-19 precautionary measures. Only a few weeks back in February, she worried about how the nation’s overwhelming pandemic fatigue could affect everyone’s safe-keeping priorities by spring. She said,
"I worry that it will be spring and we will all have had enough. At around that time, I worry that life will feel and look a little bit better and the motivation for those who might be vaccine-hesitant will be diminished."
Worryingly enough, that is already happening.
Spring break events are being actively planned and kicking off across the US despite health officials’ repeated warnings. Several states have relaxed restrictive measures and allowed businesses to open fully. These developments are occurring just when the decline in daily cases and deaths has jammed at high levels.
And now the threat is that the more contagious, super-spreading, B.1.1.7 variant, initially identified in the UK, will speedily propel the US into another surge.
According to Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, the next spike will, in fact, be led by this variant.And this is expected to happen in the next couple of weeks.
The epidemiologist pointed out how just how quickly this variant has picked up momentum in the US. He said,
"Four weeks ago, the B.1.1.7 variant made up about 1 to 4% of the virus that we were seeing in communities across the country. Today, it's up to 30 to 40%. What we've seen in Europe, when we hit that 50% mark, you see cases surge."
So far, the CDC has already reported over 3000 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant across 47 states. Speaking about this variant, epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist, Dr. Celine Gounder warned,
“We've been tracking it very closely since then. Where it has hit in the UK and now elsewhere in Europe, it has really been catastrophic. It has driven up rates of hospitalizations and deaths and it's very difficult to control."
According to recent studies, the variant is between 59% to 74% more contagious than the original virus.
Health officials uphold that with less than 10% of Americans fully vaccinated, we stand nowhere close to herd immunity. We still need to continue to actively take preventive measures. Let’s not push that tipping point.
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