Coronavirus in the US: US rates are falling, but cold weather could mean Delta wave still months away, experts say
“We still have two months to go for a delta wave to sweep across this country in a regional way and we’re kind of done with it,” said Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“You’re starting to see a slight rise in cases in the colder parts of the country, and when people are taken home without masks, you’ll start to see cases being picked up,” he said.
However, an average of about 1,500 people died each day in the last week of Covid-19, according to JHU data.
Gottlieb told CNN that much of the national improvement can be attributed to southern states emerging from the worst of the changing wave. But not all areas are going well. The numbers are increasing in the West and Midwest, he said, and it remains unclear how severe the impact will be in the Northeast.
Gottlieb predicted that the worst of it would end in most of the country around Thanksgiving and that spread levels would drop at Christmas, but not all health officials are so sure.
“I’m not sure we can predict at this time that we won’t see an increase in the winter,” CNN medical analyst Dr. Lena Win said. “I really think it’s too early to celebrate and say the worst is behind us.”
Before this celebration, the United States needs to keep a track of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, an achievement that depends on vaccinating more people, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday.
“We have about 68 million people in this country who are eligible for vaccination and have not yet been vaccinated,” said the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “We need to vaccinate the huge proportion of these people who are not immunized and then we can be pretty confident that if we can do that, we won’t see a re-emergence.”
“It really depends on us and our ability to rise to the occasion and vaccinate people,” Fauci said.
Vaccines are essential to accelerating the spread of the epidemic
Gottlieb said Monday that it is vaccines, as well as other tools like testing, that will help bring the Covid-19 pandemic into its endemic phase in the United States.
When the virus becomes endemic, it poses a persistent risk of infection but does not cause significant numbers of serious illness and death.
“The reason we got past this and the reason we’re accelerating our way through this pandemic to an endemic phase with this virus is the vaccine,” CNN’s Chris Cuomo said.
“If you look at past epidemics, they lasted more than five years,” he said. “Maybe this epidemic will not last long for the West.”
Gottlieb said treatments and testing are also important, but that vaccines are an “essential part” of fighting the pandemic.
“The fact that we can build a wall of immunity through vaccination, and not just infect the population en masse, is going to be the way that we speed our way out of the epidemic to the endemic stage with this virus where we hope to keep it at bay,” Gottlieb said.
Meanwhile, Pfizer and BioNTech said last week they are seeking emergency use authorization for the vaccine for children as young as 5 years old.
If approved, increased access would benefit the health of young children and the communities they occupy, experts say.
“We will really rely on children, and younger children, who are vaccinated in order to increase overall immune protection,” Wen said.
Fauci says vaccine mandates are working
As part of the campaign to increase vaccinations, many health experts are calling for mandates in schools, workplaces and businesses.
CNN’s Fauci and Wolf Blitzer told CNN that the federal government is trying to get people to vaccinate themselves, but some may need to do so.
“Obviously we were trying very hard,” Fauci said. “We’re trying to get trusted messengers out there and we’re trying to get rid of this from being an ideological or a political statement, and we’re going back to the realm of purely public health, trying to convince people,” Fauci said.
“I mean, we don’t like telling people what to do about vaccines. But we know that mandates work.”
But while many institutions have made the decision to give vaccines to their students, employees, and clients, some country leaders are less inclined to do so.
On Monday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order prohibiting any entities from requiring individuals to be vaccinated.
“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective and is our best defense against the virus, but it should still be voluntary and never forced,” Abbott said.
Virginia Langmaid, Jamie Gombrecht, Maggie Fox, and Jennifer Silva of CNN contributed to this report.