With the number of new Covid-19 cases dropping 25 percent to 825,000 last week, the largest weekly fall in new infections since the pandemic started, the U.S. has finally gained some momentum in its battle to curb Covid-19. A Reuters analysis found that new cases have now actually fallen for four weeks in a row to reach their lowest level since November. Despite the progress, health officials have urged caution amid the arrival of some new strains of the disease that could undo all of the progress. Quoted by Reuters, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said: " that "I’m asking everyone to please keep your guard up,” before adding that “the continued proliferation of variants remains a great concern and is a threat that could reverse the recent positive trends we are seeing.”
The falling case count is good news for America's overburdened hospitals which have been struggling amid a tsunami of infections in some parts of the country over the past few weeks. Hospitalizations climbed steadily throughout November and December, peaking at nearly 132,500 on January 06. That's according to data from The COVID Tracking Project which also noted a massive decline in recent weeks. While it it is tempting to attribute that trend to the vaccine rollout, it is more likely down to a return to the level of transmission seen before the holidays. Both Thanksgiving and Christmas led to a far higher volume of travel as well as more indoor socializing which likely drove the spike in infections in November, December and early January.
There is a degree of worry about whether Super Bowl parties are going to fuel another wave of infections but for now, the trend is positive. The pace of the vacine rollout also provides hope that the U.S. may have left the worst of the pandemic behind it with more Americans receiving their first dose than have tested positive for Covid-19. Some 46 million doses have been administered in the U.S. fo far with at least 10 percent of the population receiving their first dose. That is still nowhere near the herd immunity threshold, however, even when people who have had Covid-19 are factored in. Still, 1.5 million doses are now being administered daily and with the pressure finally easing on hospitals, things are starting to look far better than they did when the year started.