Americans have received some good news lately about the coronavirus. But the country is not yet in the clear, experts warn.
A third Covid-19 vaccine — Johnson & Johnson’s single shot — is now on its way to states across the country. And Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations have generally been dropping for weeks.
But case levels are still as high as the worst part of last summer, and the recent rate of decline appears to have slowed. More transmissible variants are spreading.
So several experts are pleading: Hang on to safety measures at least a few months longer while vaccinations pick up — or watch cases soar right back.
“This is not a time to relax restrictions — especially the governors who are all high-fiving themselves saying we’re out of this. We’re not,” Dr. Peter Hotez, co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s Hospital, said Tuesday.
“Especially when we have vaccines coming … just hold off another couple of months, and that’s going to be such a game changer. We could save so many lives right now if we were to just adhere to (restrictions) for a bit longer, until we could fully vaccinate,” Hotez told CNN’s “New Day.”
Dr. Zeke Emanuel, who was a member of the Biden Transition Covid-19 Advisory Board, told CNN something similar Monday.
“We should not ease up, allow indoor dining, big groups … getting rid of mask mandates. We have to hold on for another two or three months in this condition,” Emanuel said. “We’re still having, on average, 2,000 (Covid-19) deaths a day. We cannot become inured to that.”
If Americans relax too early, Covid-19 numbers are “going to reverse and go up,” he added.
Highly transmissible variants that threaten to create another surge in the US include the B.1.1.7 strain, which was first identified in the UK. The CDC warns it could become the predominant variant in the US this month.
Still, several state leaders have been easing Covid-19 restrictions, and more joined them Monday.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said many businesses can increase capacity to 60% — including barbershops and hair salons, bars and restaurants, bowling alleys, fitness centers, movie theaters and government offices.
Pennsylvania state officials announced they had revised maximum-occupancy limits for indoor and outdoor events and eliminated out-of-state travel restrictions. And in Chicago, officials said Tuesday they will allow restaurants to operate indoors at the lesser of 50% capacity or 50 people, raising the previous limit of 40%.
Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, said these moves are coming at the wrong time.
“We’ve got states easing restrictions — which they should not be doing at this moment — and we’ve got the variants that are circulating that are a lot more infectious. Put all that together, and (I) can’t help but worry about where we’re going to be for the next couple of months,” Jha said Tuesday.
Source: CNN Health