Over the past week, there has been an average of fewer than 78,000 new coronavirus cases reported per day in the United States, marking the first time the seven-day rolling average has dipped below 80,000 since October and, with hospitalizations and deaths also decreasing dramatically, it appears the U.S. may finally be curbing the pandemic’s impact.
The average case count has declined by a whopping 43% over just the past two weeks, according to a New York Times database.
On Monday, the U.S. recorded 994 new coronavirus deaths, which is the first time the country has been able to report fewer than 1,000 fatalities in a single day since before Thanksgiving.
Compared to their respective averages at the start of this month, both hospitalization and death rates have dropped by more than 30%.
“If I were ranking explanations for the decline in COVID-19, behavior would be No. 1,” Ali Mokdad, a professor at the University of Washington, told The Atlantic. “If you look at mobility data the week after Thanksgiving and Christmas, activity went down.”
January was the most devastating month of the pandemic, with cases, fatalities and hospitalizations reaching terrifying peaks. And while many experts predicted that the spread of the virus would gradually diminish as winter wore on, very few believed that the numbers would be this encouraging by mid-February. According to health officials and infectious disease experts, multiple determinants are driving down the rate of infections and bending the virus’ trajectory. According to a report in The Atlantic, the most important factors have been behavior, seasonality, partial immunity and the rollout of vaccines. In terms of behavior, former CDC Director Tom Frieden said mask-wearing, remaining socially distanced and avoiding travel have been crucial. The “apparent seasonality of human coronaviruses” also seems to be working in Americans’ favor as the weather begins to turn. According to various estimates, somewhere between 15% and 30% of the U.S. population have already been infected with Covid-19. Consequently, Derek Thompson of The Atlantic writes, the “number of antibodies swirling around the U.S. population may naturally constrict the original coronavirus’s path forward.” Lastly, more than 42 million Americans have received one or both doses of the vaccine, with upwards of 16 million fully vaccinated. Researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predict that vaccinations will save up to 114,000 lives.
What To Watch For:
Although recent data is encouraging, Rochelle Walensky, the current CDC director, has warned that Americans must stay vigilant if they hope to avoid another spike. “It’s encouraging to see these trends coming down, but they’re coming down from an extraordinarily high place,” Walensky told NBC, noting that cases are still more than twice as high as they were last summer. Most experts agree, according to the Washington Post, that mutated variants of the virus (primarily those first identified in the U.K. and South Africa) represent the most significant threat to America’s recovery.
3,100: That was the average number of Americans killed by the coronavirus each day in January—one every 28 seconds.
Covid-19 Cases Are Dropping Fast. Why? (Atlantic)
Covid Death Toll in January (Washington Post)
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