Can’t even lie, it felt incredibly good to see the whole world reenact the end of Return of the Jedi this weekend. I’m going to do my best to hold onto that feeling because the upcoming months aren’t looking too hot with regards to the ongoing pandemic. While Pfizer has shared a promising development on its vaccine progress, cases are still on track to overwhelm the healthcare system by the end of the year.
According to Politico, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently project the United States to hit 11,000 deaths and 960,000 cases per week by the end of November. This past Saturday alone, almost 1,100 people died according to the Covid Tracking Project. “That’s three jetliners full of people crashing and dying,” David Eisenman, director of the UCLA Center for Public Health and Disasters, told Politico. “And we will do that every day and then it will get more and more.”
President-Elect Joe Biden announced a coronavirus task force on Monday and has outlined plans to substantially increase access to testing, aggressively use the Defense Production Act to address shortages of Personal Protective Equipment and institute more effective contact tracing.
While these are all necessary steps, there are still 10 weeks until Biden assumes power. There’s no guarantee Congress will take steps towards providing coronavirus relief, and the sitting president is currently more consumed with trying to litigate his L than helping the American people. Making matters worse, unlike the early days of the virus where we saw rotating hotspots across the country, cases are surging nationwide.
This surge has led to emergency rooms and ICU beds reaching capacity in multiple states. In New Mexico, state officials believe that general hospital beds will be at capacity by the end of the week. ICU beds reached 98 percent capacity in Minnesota’s Twin Cities area, and the county morgue in El Paso, Texas has ordered another refrigerated trailer to hold the overflow of dead bodies.
So yeah, shit’s pretty bleak folks.
It’s not entirely doom and gloom though, as CNN reports that early data has shown Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine has a 90 percent success rate. Pfizer’s testing involved more than 43,000 volunteers who received either two doses of the vaccine, or a placebo shot. Of the fewer than 10 percent in the group that contracted the virus, over 90 percent of them were given the placebo.
Pfizer added that the first dose provided protection from the virus for 28 days, while the second added an additional week of protection. The company said it will seek authorization for emergency use of the vaccine after it monitors volunteers for two months after receiving the vaccine.
“With today’s news, we are a significant step closer to providing people around the world with a much-needed breakthrough to help bring an end to this global health crisis,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement. “We look forward to sharing additional efficacy and safety data generated from thousands of participants in the coming weeks.”
Pfizer added that it will continue to evaluate the vaccine’s effectiveness in preventing severe complications from COVID-19, as well as whether it can provide long-term protection from the virus, including among those who have already contracted it.
While it seems like all hope is still long down the horizon, Cyrus Shahpar, a former CDC official who runs the virus tracker Covid Exit Strategy, told Politico that the Biden team can still combat the virus by simply breaking down to the public how severe the spread currently is. “There’s been a misalignment between the reality on the ground and what our leaders are telling us,” Shahpar told Politico. “Hopefully now those things will come closer together.”
So, obviously, wash your hands, socially distance and wear a mask. On a less obvious tip, you really may want to reconsider any plans you had to celebrate the holidays with your family this season. Not just for the protection of you and yours, but to also help prevent the healthcare system on the whole from being overloaded. It’s not just me suggesting it either.
“Going into Thanksgiving people are going to start to see family and get together indoors,” Eisenman said. “Then the cases will spread from that and then five weeks later we have another set of holidays and people will gather then and by January, we will be exploding with cases.”
So if you ain’t trying to be a part of that explosion of cases, then you might need to sacrifice the holidays this year.
Does it suck? Obviously. But them’s the breaks, kid. Hopefully, this time next year we can talk about turkey without death being involved.