A new forecast, even as Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations declined, had warned that when it came to the pandemic, the United States was not yet out of the woods, CNN reported.
The number of deaths from the virus, over the next three and a half months, had been projected at 130,000, as per the latest model from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).
New Forecast Warns The US Not Out Of Woods Despite Falling Cases
And while Covid-19 numbers might be trending in the right direction now, four factors would determine how the next few months unfolded, according to the institute’s briefing accompanying its model.
The pandemic numbers would be likely helped by the first two in the downward trajectory, vaccinations increasing and declining seasonality- the lower transmission pattern likely to be seen in the US during the spring and summer months.
According to the IHME team, two factors, however, could slow or even reverse the declines that had begun.
The B.1.1.7 variant spread was one of those factors. It was first identified in the United Kingdom and experts had warned that it could become the dominant strain in the US by spring.
According to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Sunday, more than 1,173 cases of the variant had been detected so far across 39 states.
The IHME team added another key factor was increased behaviors that favored Covid-19 transmission.
The team said transmission had been contained over the winter through mask wearing, decreased mobility and avoidance of high-risk settings such as indoor dining.
The team added that as daily case counts declined and vaccination increased, behaviours were likely to change towards increased risk of transmission.
In view of the risks, experts warn that it was not the time for the US to let down its guard, even with the loosening of Covid-19 restrictions by an increasing number of governors.
According to CNN Medical Analyst, Dr. Leena Wen, Sunday, the falling numbers were good news, but the variants were a cause for worry for her, as what happened when there was explosive spread of those more contagious variants had been seen in other countries, she said on CNN’s “Inside Politics.”
She said it was really critical to ramp up vaccinations as much as possible, and in the meantime, continue doing the best possible with masking, physical distancing, these other measures that were known to be really important in controlling the spread of infection.
The CDC said Sunday, in addition to the B.1.1.7 variant 17 cases of the B.1.351 Covid strain initially seen in South Africa had been found across seven states and in Washington, DC. It added, there were also two cases of the P.1 strain first linked to Brazil — one in Minnesota and one in Oklahoma.
According to the agency, the data did not represent the total number of such cases circulating in the US but just those that had been found by analyzing positive samples.
Meanwhile, the debate over how to safely return students to the classroom continued, even after the release of the long-awaited guidance by the CDC last Friday. The guidance outlined five key strategies, including universal mask wearing.
On CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky laid stress on the need for more masks and other mitigation measures for the safe reopening of schools.
She added, “mask breaching” was the main reason behind the spread of coronavirus in schools, though transmission in schools was mostly associated with a spread in the surrounding community.
The CDC guidance included a color-coded chart to describe transmission levels from blue to red, from low to high transmission.
A CNN analysis of federal data had revealed that about 99% of the US population under the age of 18 lived in a so-called red zone.