Health officials cautiously optimistic about declining COVID statistics
While statistics reveal that across the U.S., less people are getting vaccinated than in previous weeks, health officials are cautiously optimistic about what COVID-related numbers will look like in the upcoming months, CNN reports.
During a Sunday, May 9 interview, Dr. Jonathan Reiner of George Washington University told CNN he expects this summer to be, "much closer to normal than we've had in a very long time."
Reiner, a professor of medicine and surgery, went on to say it's key that officials continue to keep a close eye on the number of citizens being vaccinated. He explained that once at least 60 percent of adults in the US are vaccinated with at least one dose, COVID-19 cases are likely to plummet.
CNN notes that currently, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) data, more than 34% of the US population is fully vaccinated and nearly 46% of the country has received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.
With these numbers in mind, Dr. Reiner said, "I expect during the month of May we will see daily cases drop dramatically and deaths finally drop to quite low numbers."
Reiner isn't alone in declaring cautious optimism. In late April, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical advisor to the president, told CNN that roughly 70-85% of people need to be immune for the country to reach a "total blanket of protection."
At the time, Fauci also said, "However, even before you get to that, as you get more and more people vaccinated, you will reach a point ... where you'll start to see the number of cases going down dramatically."
On Sunday, yet another official with the White House added his voice to the many positive outlooks echoed by top health experts.
White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients told CNN, "I would say we are turning the corner."
However, Zients also reiterated the importance of seeing even more people in the US become vaccinated.
President Joe Biden recently set a new goal of administering at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose to 70% of American adults by July 4.
Experts admit this will be a challenge, as some Americans are hesitant to be vaccinated and others lack adequate access to the vaccine.
Zients said, "We've got a path ahead of us, which will involve getting people even easier access to the vaccine, making sure that people build their confidence, those who have questions about the vaccines, that we answer their questions. And making sure that we do ... this in a fair and equitable way."
Some experts are concerned about what could happen if the country does not reach herd immunity by fall.
Herd immunity is defined as a form of indirect protection from infectious disease that can occur with some diseases when a sufficient percentage of a population has become immune to an infection, whether through vaccination or previous infections, thereby reducing the likelihood of infection for individuals who lack immunity.
Some health officials feel that if herd immunity is not reached by fall, when winter arrives, a resurgence in COVID cases may occur.
Fauci, however, told reporters it's unlikely this will occur.
During a recent interview, he touched on this by saying, "You may see blips but if we handle them well, it is unlikely that you'll see the kind of surge that we saw in the late fall and the early winter."
With this, he again stressed the importance of vaccinations, saying, "That's the reason why vaccinations are so important."
So, though many experts agree that COVID-19 is not likely to disappear in the near future, they feel that its impact can be minimized by ensuring that the majority of people are vaccinated.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, made this clear when he told reporters, "COVID won't disappear, we're going to have to learn to live with it. I think we're at the point in time where we can start lifting these ordinances ... and people have to take precautions based on their individual risk ... and decide whether or not they're going to avoid crowds or wear masks based on their circumstances."
According to the Louisiana Department of Health, over 1,500,000 people in Louisiana have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
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