UPDATED with latest: “The latest data suggest that these declines may be stalling, potentially leveling off,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said Friday. “It’s still a very high number. We at CDC consider this a very concerning shift in the trajectory.”
On Monday, Walensky was even more concerned.
“At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard earned ground we have gained,” she warned. “These variants are a very real threat to our people and our progress. Now is not the time to relax the critical safeguards that we know can stop the spread of Covid-19 in our communities, not when we are so close.”
Dr. Walensky said she was “deeply concerned” as states roll back Covid-related restrictions.
Indeed, California Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday announced a new plan to reopen the state’s schools by April 1.
“Tomorrow we are likely,” said Newsom on Monday “to announce seven additional counties” moving to a less restrictive tier in the state’s reopening roadmap. “We do expect that a majority of Californians in the next few weeks to be residing in counties that our out of the most restrictive ‘purple’ tier.”
Virginia, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Wyoming also removed some restrictions.
“With these new statistics, I am really worried about reports that more states are rolling back the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from Covid-19,” warned Walensky
“We cannot be resigned to 70,000 cases per day, 2,000 daily deaths,” she said. The US was far below those numbers on Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University. But Monday data is often incomplete and Hopkins’ numbers did show a noticeable plateauing in the downward progress of recent weeks, with days above 70,000.
That would mean the country is leveling off at about the peak of the Spring/Summer surge numbers, in terms of cases, raising fears about a potential new surge caused by new variants from that relatively high plateau.
What’s more, while case numbers in California are indeed falling, those in New York, Florida and Texas remain high, eclipsing those in the hard-hit Golden State.
There is good news in the approval and imminent roll out of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, especially for underserved areas. According to the CDC, 10% of adult Americans have had both doses of the vaccines to date. Hospitalizations have also declined in many hard-hit areas.
Bu according to USA Today, many states have more cases this week than last, including Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
PREVIOUSLY on February 22: As of Monday, 500,000 American lives had been lost to Covid-19, according to AP, CNN and NBC News. That’s a startling figure almost exactly one year into the pandemic.
At its outbreak, many said the virus was no more deadly than the seasonal flu. One year on, it’s killed nearly ten times the what a season flu does in a bad year. The worst seasonal loss of lives due to flu in the past decade have come in 2014-2015 and 2017-2018 at 51,000 and 61,000 lives lost accordingly. The seasonal toll has been as low as 12,000 — in 2011-2012.
Put another way, 500,000 lives lost is greater than the population of Miami or Kansas City. It’s also roughly equal to all American lives lost in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War combined.
Members of the White House coronavirus task force said on Monday that the milestone is “a truly tragic reminder of the enormity of this pandemic and the loss it has inflicted.”
According to the Washington Post today, “researchers in Scotland reported Monday that both the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca shots greatly reduced hospital admissions from covid-19 among the elderly — by up to 85 percent and 94 percent, respectively.”
WH leaders warned that, despite the fact that numbers have fallen greatly in the past few weeks, cases remain significantly elevated. Monday’s case levels, they added, are “comparable with the last summer’s peak.”
As a result, according to an AP report, “Experts warn that over 100,000 more deaths are likely in the next few months,” pushing the total number of deaths ever closer to that of the Spanish Flu outbreak, which took 675,000 American lives in 1918-1919.
President Joe Biden and the First Lady, along with Vice President Kamala Harris and the First Gentleman, will hold a moment of silence at sundown on Monday to remember American lives lost to the pandemic.
The administration issued the following proclamation from President Biden remembering the 500,000 Americans lost to the virus:
As of this week during the dark winter of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 500,000 Americans have now died from the virus. That is more Americans who have died in a single year of this pandemic than in World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War combined. On this solemn occasion, we reflect on their loss and on their loved ones left behind. We, as a Nation, must remember them so we can begin to heal, to unite, and find purpose as one Nation to defeat this pandemic.
In their memory, the First Lady and I will be joined by the Vice President and the Second Gentleman for a moment of silence at the White House this evening. I ask all Americans to join us as we remember the more than 500,000 of our fellow Americans lost to COVID-19 and to observe a moment of silence at sunset. I also hereby order, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and on all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset February 26, 2021. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same period at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-second day of February, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fifth.
JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.
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