With thousands of the B.1.1.7 variant cases being reported across the US, experts had voiced concerns of another Covid-19 surge as states raced to accelerate vaccinations.
The variant, first seen the UK, was already wreaking havoc across parts of Europe and health leaders feared that if Americans were not careful, and the US could be next.
Thousands Of B.1.1.7 Variant Cases Reported In US Raise Surge Concerns
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had reported over 11,500 cases of the variant, however, according to the agency the number could be larger.
Florida topped the B.1.1.7 case counts. The state had welcomed crowds of spring breakers. Michigan took the second spot where officials said another surge was well on its way.
According to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer who spoke to CNN on Wednesday the state had a high proportion of variants that meant coronavirus was spreading faster. He added, the variants were much more contagious, and spread was seen whether it was at youth sports or it was the reengagement of some of the state’s restaurants.
Whitmer added the variants, coupled with the ongoing pandemic fatigue and increased travel, were responsible for the state’s worrying trends.
The B.1.1.7 variant had also been seen by New Jersey officials in their report in the rise in cases and hospitalizations. They warned the numbers could continue to be high into the summer.
State health commissioner Judy Persichilli said it was believed that the uptick in cases was due primarily to more contagious variants, for instance the B.1.1.7, the UK variant and less cautious behaviors.
Persichilli added that new hospitalizations had increased 28% over the two weeks past to over 2,300 residents. Furthermore, the first and last weeks of March, had seen a 31% and 48% increase in the hospitalization numbers among the 20-29 and 40-49 age groups, respectively. She added that older residents had seen only single-digit percent increases.
The University of Pittsburg in Pennsylvania was implementing a shelter-in-place period in response to increasing cases among students and over concerns of the presence of the B.1.1.7 variant on campus and in the surrounding area.
An official university email said of concern was that the increase in positive cases since the end of last week was now among residence hall students.
According to health officials what could keep another surge away while the number increased were the known safety measures: avoiding crowds, masking up, staying socially distant and washing hands regularly. That was the reason state and local leaders had been warned by health experts to not reopen too quickly during this critical time.
Dr Anthony Fauci told CNN on Wednesday the US was vaccinating about 3 million people a day. He added that with every passing day the US got closer and closer to a higher degree of protection. He said it was just not the time to pull back and declare premature victory.
He called for hanging in there a bit longer. He urged people to just hang on continue doing the public health measures and then one could pull back later, when the vaccines gave one a greater degree of protection.
However local officials and governors had continued to announce eased restrictions, and several went on to lift mask mandates.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson in an announcement said he was lifting a statewide mask mandate and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey too intended to push ahead with her plan to end the state’s mask mandate next week, according to a spokesperson for the governor who spoke to CNN.
On Wednesday New Orleans leaders announced they were relaxing capacity limits restrictions, adding that even as the city was seeing improvements in a number of Covid-19 categories, concerns remained, especially in view of the reversal of trends in several states, as also stronger variants spreading, being detected in some Louisiana cities.