Positive trends in pandemic statistics in the United States are easy to distrust. After all, the country went through two false dawn shifts, in late spring and then again in late summer, when decline in case reports preceded even darker days. The seemingly good news each time led to relaxation and reopening which helped increase the next wave.
It is therefore no surprise that public health experts are wary of the latest flattening of the curve of the pandemic, from the sharp decline in cases seen in late January and February to something like a plateau or slight decline in recent time. As more contagious virus variants are common, they fear the good news may end and a fourth wave may begin to increase.
There are positive signs:
Daily mortality reports, which remained stubbornly high long after the boom after the holidays, have finally declined sharply to levels not seen since mid-November. As of Monday, the country has reported an average of 1,051 Covid deaths per day over the past week; the average hovered around 3,000 during the winter weeks.
Some recent hotspots have made great strides – most notably Los Angeles, whose mayor, Eric Garcetti, told CBS on Sunday that he “did not feel this optimism within 12 months.” The city and surrounding province, where cases in some areas jumped 450 percent during the holidays and hospitals were so flooded that some ambulances turned away, now has a test positivity rate of about 1.9 percent, and in a significant shift, new case reports fell among homeless people.
Vaccinations become more accessible with the week, as states receive more doses and are eligible, in some cases to include all adult residents. The number of doses administered nationwide daily is increasing, and the country exceeds President Biden’s initial target of delivering 100 million shots on March 19, almost six weeks ahead of schedule.
The question now is what will prevail: the positive consequences of trends like this or the negative consequences of looser behavior and the evolution of the virus into more dangerous forms?
It is still a race between vaccinations and variants’, said dr. Ashish Jha, Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, said on Twitter. Like other experts, he warns: “Opening too quickly helps the variants.”