Many of us may have celebrated the end of the COVID pandemic a little too soon. Despite a two-month decline, the virus is back on the rise thanks to widespread subvariants of the Omicron variant. In the last week alone, infections in the United States are up more than 18 percent, while hospitalizations are up over 24 percent, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As infections increase, more mitigation measures may be needed again as we continue to fight the coronavirus. Read on to find out what a top virus expert is recommending us now.
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According to PBS, not only have infections increased more than 50 percent in the past two weeks, but coronavirus cases are also increasing in almost every single state. During an interview with the network on May 21, the Director of COVID Response at the White House Ashish JhaMD, discussed the current status of the virus in the US and acknowledged that the number of cases is still higher than many of us had hoped at the time.
“I think if we take a step back and look at where we are in this pandemic, obviously there are a lot of infections out there. I think two years later nobody wants to hear that. It’s frustrating,” Jha told the host Geoff Bennett. “I mean, the virus isn’t done yet.”
However, the increase in infections does not mean that we have declined as of March 2020. According to Jha, the US has built up quite a bit of immunity over time – largely thanks to vaccination and booster shots. This has helped keep people safe and prevented hospitalizations and deaths from rising too much even as cases increase. But to ensure safety over time, we need to keep up with vaccines and “keep working to improve our vaccine.” [and] Make sure we have enough treatments,” Jha said.
“I think complacency can get us in big trouble,” he said. “But if we stay active, we stay focused, keep fighting this virus, I think we can protect Americans.”
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As the emergence of Omicron subvariants has led to a spike in coronavirus cases, virus experts are worried about the future. White House COVID Advisor Anton FauciMD, previously warned there was potential for another rise in the fall.
“People are fed up with this pandemic, we understand that. Unfortunately, the virus isn’t done with its work,” Jha told Bennett. “When we look at autumn and winter, I’m just making sure to monitor the development of the virus. We have to be very careful about what happens when we see a new wave of infections, so we want to be ready with a new generation of vaccines and treatments.”
There are no longer mask requirements in the US — including the federal mask requirement for transportation, which was lifted last month. But masking is probably a good idea if the number increases, even if there are no orders mandating it, experts say. The CDC continues to recommend that people in areas with moderate or high levels of COVID transmission indoors wear masks, regardless of immunization status. From May 19th 45 percent of the US population is currently in an area of moderate or high community transmission, CDC Director Rochelle WalenskyMD, recently tweeted.
“I’ve always believed … that masking is an important part of keeping infection numbers down,” Jha told Bennett. “And I think we’re going to want to get the message out to people that masking in areas with high infection numbers is going to be an important tool to keep infections down and getting them – so we can get through the fall of winter without substance disruption.” “
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