(CNN) – The United States could soon see more than 200,000 new cases of Covid-19 every day as the delta variant spreads at a rapid rate, particularly among unvaccinated people, predicted the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH, for its acronym in English).
“I would be surprised if we don’t exceed 200,000 cases a day in the next two weeks, and that’s heartbreaking considering we never thought we’d be back in that space again,” Dr. Francis Collins said on Fox News Sunday.
“That was January, February, that shouldn’t be August. But here we are with the delta variant, which is so contagious, and this heartbreaking situation where 90 million people are still not vaccinated, who are easy prey for this virus, and that. it’s the mess we’re in. “
That brand is still a long way off. As of Saturday, the US averaged about 129,000 new cases daily for the past 7 days, a number that has risen every day since July 5, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The country last averaged more than 200,000 cases a day in January, before COVID-19 vaccines became widely available.
Then as now, the alarming rebound has squeezed healthcare resources as many hospitals struggle to meet the demand of those in need of crucial medical care.
The biggest problem is not the lack of beds
“The system is breaking down,” CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner told CNN’s Jim Acosta on Saturday.
“It’s not just the beds. Many hospitals can find beds in places like parking structures or cafeterias. But it takes qualified people to tend those beds. And the United States has a critical shortage of ICU nurses, so finding the staff Being qualified to critically care for sick patients becomes increasingly difficult, “explained Reiner, a professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University.
Because older people have much higher vaccination rates (more than 90% of 65-year-olds or more have received at least one injection) this increase has particularly affected younger populations.
The rate of new hospitalizations among 30-year-olds increased by nearly 300% over the past month, according to an analysis of data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). ). New hospital admissions for COVID-19 among people in their 30s are now the highest since the pandemic began, according to the data.
Health experts say the solution is to vaccinate as many people as possible, because vaccines provide good protection against serious diseases. As of Sunday, 50.7% of the US population was fully vaccinated. That’s 59.3% of those eligible to receive a vaccine, CDC data shows.
“We’re going to have to keep vaccinating people so that right now, even in states where there is a relatively good proportion of people vaccinated, the overwhelming proportion of people have to be vaccinated,” said Dr. Anthony. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
Additional vaccine injection for immunosuppressed and possibly others
There will also be more vaccines available for some already vaccinated people.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cleared Thursday that give an additional dose of vaccine to people with compromised immune systems, who may not have an adequate immune response to the vaccine.
CDC vaccine advisers voted unanimously to recommend the additional dose for some immunosuppressed people on Friday. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky was quick to support the vote, which means people can get these third doses right away.
Booster shots may also be available soon to other people, such as the elderly, people in nursing homes, or even the general population. Some officials are concerned that the delta variant could evade some of the vaccine’s protection.
“There is concern that the vaccine may start to decline in effectiveness for months, and delta is a nasty problem for us,” Collins said. “The combination of those two means that we may need reinforcements, perhaps starting first with healthcare providers as well as people in nursing homes and then gradually moving forward.”
Fauci said the vaccines still provide strong protection, but officials are studying the issue to determine if such boosters are needed.
“So if it turns out that as the data comes in, we see that we need to give an additional dose to people in nursing homes, actually, or older people, we will be absolutely prepared to do it very quickly,” Fauci said.
How You Wear Your Mask Matters, Experts Say
As orders to wear masks in schools become a contentious issue in southern districts, experts want Americans to know the safest way for students to mask themselves.
CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen said returning to schools safely is possible.
“The quality of the masks really matters,” he told CNN’s Pamela Brown on Saturday. “Don’t send your child to school with a cloth face covering. Use at least a three-layer surgical mask and ideally an N95 or KN95 if your child is old enough and can tolerate it.”
Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, made a similar point.
“He uses a mask with the most efficient and effective means he has. These are the N95 masks,” he told CNN.
He added that while the United States had a supply shortage of those masks during the onset of the pandemic, there are now a large number of them.
“Wear them. And when you wear them, please don’t wear them under your nose … That’s just a chin diaper. And it doesn’t give you any protection,” he stated.
Osterholm noted that COVID-19 is transmitted largely by aerosols, which are tiny particles in the air. He explained that if you can smell cigarette smoke from 20 feet away while wearing the mask, then you need a higher quality mask for optimal safety.
CNN’s Jacqueline Howard, Lauren Mascarenhas, and Naomi Thomas contributed to this report.
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