“For the first time since the pandemic began, Covid’s cases have fallen in all 50 states,” White House senior adviser Andy Slavitt said in a briefing on Tuesday. “We’re winning the war on the virus and we need you to help us finish the job.”
Last week, the United States averaged about 31,200 new cases of Covid-19, the lowest average since last June and less than half the average just a month ago, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
And the country averaged 614 deaths per Covid-19 daily in the past week, less than a third of the 1988 average per day seen three months ago, according to data from Johns Hopkins.
Still, among the messages of hope, medical officials and experts offer an important reminder: it’s not over yet.
“Cases are down, deaths are down, hospitalizations are down, vaccines are up,” Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University, told CNN on Tuesday. “If vaccines increased even faster, you would see that the other metrics, those Covid metrics, decrease even more.”
“There are still a lot of people who haven’t shown up and rolled up their sleeves, we need them to do it,” he added. “The vaccine in the fridge can’t prevent disease.”
About 47.9% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as of early Wednesday. About 37.8% of the population is completely vaccinated.
Booster is likely to need “about a year or so” after vaccination, Fauci says
When authorized, reinforcement of the Covid-19 vaccine will likely be needed within one year of initial vaccination, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in an interview with Axios published Wednesday.
“We know that the durability of the vaccine’s effectiveness lasts at least six months, and probably considerably longer, but I think it’s almost certain that we’ll require reinforcement in about a year or so after we get primary,” Fauci said.
Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, citing data he has seen, told Axios that recipients of the Pfizer vaccine may need a boost “between eight and 12 months” after his second shot.
Pfizer has not finished its trials in a reinforcement.
“I think in a month or two we’ll have enough data to talk about it with much greater scientific certainty,” Bourla said.
“We have to go further”
The pace of vaccinations has slowed dramatically in recent weeks and officials say it is crucial to continue receiving more shots in the arms.
The U.S. made an average of 1.77 million daily doses of Covid-19 vaccine a day over the past week, far from the maximum average of about 3.3 million in mid-April, according to CDC data. .
People living in rural areas have an increased risk of hospitalization and death due to Covid-19, although vaccination rates in rural areas fell behind cities in April and this could make it difficult. the end of the pandemic, warned a new CDC report.
“We need to focus even more on meeting people where they are,” said White House Covid-19 response team chief advisor Dra. Marcella Núñez-Smith, during an information session on Tuesday. “And we will continue to provide the public with the answers they need to get vaccinated.
“We know we have to pull ahead.”
He said: they have included targeting resources to the most at-risk and most affected communities, conducting federally administered vaccination sites, and setting up mobile vaccination clinics.
Where people are vaccinated, it seems that inoculations have an impact. Over the past week, states with the highest vaccination rates have had lower Covid-19 case rates, according to a CNN analysis released Wednesday.
Uneven vaccination rates are worrying experts, in part because the more opportunities people have to spread the virus, the more likely it is to transform into new variants.
If a variant is resistant to the vaccine, this “could be problematic even for vaccinated people,” said Dr. Paul Offit, an infectious disease expert at the University of Pennsylvania.
“I think we need to address that,” said Offit, a member of the Advisory Committee on Vaccines and Organic Products Related to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “We need to impress people with the importance of vaccination to stop the virus.”
Cool divisions on masks
Optimistic data trends follow the CDC saying that fully vaccinated Americans can, for the most part, abandon their masks.
But the sudden change in direction left many Americans confused and some state and local leaders disagreed on how best to move forward while much of the country remains vaccinated.
In Maryland, the governor announced the end of a state mask mandate last week, but Baltimore City health officials said a local mandate would be maintained until at least 65% of Baltimore adults received at least one. dose of Covid-19 vaccine. , New York no longer requires fully vaccinated people to wear masks in many places. All people who do public transportation, in schools and in some community settings, still need masks.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday that as a vaccinated person, whether he wears a mask in places where he will not be required to do so will depend on whether he is unsure of the vaccination status of people who l ‘envelop.
“If in doubt, put on a mask … This is the approach I will take,” de Blasio said.
In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Tuesday banning state government entities such as cities, counties, school districts, public health authorities and government officials that require the use of masks. Universal use of masks was one of the five key recommendations of the CDC for the reopening of schools. , when the CDC issued guidelines in February. The CDC has said it continues to recommend these guidelines at least until the end of the 2020-21 school year.
Some local leaders disagreed with Abbott’s move.
“If you are an employee of the City of Houston or access a city center and have not been fully vaccinated, you must wear the mask,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a statement posted on Twitter. “We don’t demand it, but I strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated to protect themselves, their family and co-workers.”
Some experts have warned that lifting mask warrants could now cause some unvaccinated Americans to also throw off their masks and leave the country relying on a sort of honor system.
Fauci told Axios that he believed unvaccinated people were misinterpreting the CDC masking guidelines, mistakenly believing it applied to them.
“I think people are misinterpreting, thinking this is the removal of a mask warrant for everyone. It’s not,” he said, according to Axios.
Because there is no vaccine for children under 12, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended Wednesday that children and adults who are not yet fully vaccinated against Covid-19 still wear masks in certain settings.
Children should continue to wear masks in public places as they have done throughout the pandemic, especially when social distancing is not possible, said Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, chair of the AAP Infectious Diseases Committee. Children can take off their masks when they are with family members in the same household or in small meetings with fully vaccinated family and friends.
Children can also remove their masks during water sports, such as swimming, or activities that may pose a safety risk, such as gymnastics, Maldonado said.
CNN’s Jen Christensen, Naomi Thomas, Ashley Killough, Jason HannaDeidre McPhillips, Elizabeth Cohen, Raja Razek, Christina Walker and Stella Chan contributed to this report.