There are some hopeful indications that the U.S. could be turning a corner in the devastating coronavirus pandemic, though the quickly spreading virus still poses a considerable threat.
The most recent data release from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center shows that the average daily number of new COVID-19 infections has dropped below 100,000. According to a report from NPR, this is down from an average daily infection rate of over 200,000 in both January and December.
On Monday, the case count for new infections was just over 53,800—the lowest the number has been since October reports CNN.
While the decrease in new cases is encouraging, experts say the COVID-19 variants that were discovered in the U.K and South Africa and have since been detected in the U.S. could result in another uptick in infections.
“The only thing that I’m concerned about now, is that we do have this UK variant ... and it seems to be accelerating in the United States,” Dr. Peter Hotez, dean for the National School for Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN on Monday.
CDC data shows more than 1,100 cases of the highly contagious B.1.1.7 variant — first detected in the UK — have been reported in the US. The agency has previously warned the strain will see rapid growth in early 2021 and will likely become the predominant variant by March.
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Basically, the signs of improvement are by no means a license to throw off our masks and quit social distancing—especially since that kind of reckless behavior has helped engender a depressing and deadly cycle of coronavirus surges, in a pandemic that has claimed the lives of nearly 500 thousand people in America.
Still, the expansion of the vaccination effort, which the Biden administration has made a priority, appears to have at least some role in the current drop in infections. That makes it even more encouraging that the federal government is doubling down on the continued vaccine rollout.
On Tuesday, the president said that he expects to surpass the goal he set of administering 100 million shots in his first 100 days in office (This was after initially raising his goal to 150 million doses when the media kept pointing out that the country was already averaging 1 million shots a day before Jan. 20. He then returned to the 100M goal).
Fifty-two million vaccine doses have already been administered, with 11.5 percent of the American public gaining protection from the coronavirus.
Last Thursday, President Biden announced that the government has ordered enough vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna to inoculate every American.