US outlook improving as vaccinations rise and deaths fall

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(AP) – More than three months into the U.S. vaccination drive, many of the numbers paint an increasingly encouraging picture.

Seventy percent of Americans 65 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and COVID-19 deaths have dipped below 1,000 a day on average for the first time since November.

Also, dozens of states have thrown open vaccinations to all adults or are planning to do so in a matter of weeks.

The outlook in the U.S. stands in stark contrast to the deteriorating situation in places like Brazil and Europe.

At the same time, public health experts in the U.S. are warning at every turn that it’s too early to declare victory and that relaxing social distancing and other measures could easily lead to another surge.

Dr. Anthony Fauci isn’t ready to say the nation has turned the corner on the coronavirus pandemic, despite about 2.5 million Americans getting vaccinated each day.

The government’s top infectious disease expert says he often gets asked that question.

His response: “We are at the corner. Whether we or not we are going to be turning the corner remains to be seen.”

At the White House coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, Fauci says the main challenge remains a stubbornly high level of new daily cases in the country.

It’s hovering around an average of 55,000 and up slightly in recent days.

While that is clearly much better than the 250,000 daily cases at the peak of the winter wave, it’s uncomfortably close to levels seen during the COVID wave of last summer.

“When you are at that level, I don’t think you can declare victory and say you have turned the corner,” Fauci adds.

On the plus side, along with the growing level of vaccinations, Fauci is underscoring recent studies that show negligible rates of coronavirus infection among fully vaccinated people.

There’s also been a significant drop in the number of people 65 and older going to the emergency room with COVID-19. That’s the age group most vulnerable to the disease.

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