Hospitalizations and deaths should decline sharply by July if the nationwide vaccination program remains strong and community mitigation efforts are followed, according to a federal report released Wednesday.
Still, ignoring mitigation efforts such as masks and social distancing in some situations could lead to substantial increases in “severe COVID-19 outcomes,” even with improved vaccination coverage, the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
“High vaccination rates and compliance with public health prevention measures are essential to control the pandemic and to prevent surges in hospitalizations and deaths in the coming months,” the report says.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC director, said variants remain a “wild card,” but that so far the vaccines appear to work well against them.
“Models once projecting really grim news now offer reasons to be quite hopeful for what the summer may bring,” Walensky said at a White House briefing. “The sooner we get more and more people vaccinated, the sooner we will all get back to normal.”
Also in the news:
►The federal government will have a bit less vaccine to offer next week. This week was 9.62 million first doses; next week is 9.53 million. The primary reason: J&J will provide 161,900 fewer doses.
►A Massachusetts pizza parlor owner lied about the number of employees he had to fraudulently obtain more than $660,000 in federal coronavirus relief funds, then bought stock an alpaca farm in Vermont, federal prosecutors say. Dana McIntyre, 57, is charged with wire fraud and money laundering.
►An Elmira, N.Y., woman who died of COVID-19 in November was a secret millionaire. Among gifts left by Evelyn Lutz, 86, a nurse who wrote books on the profession, were $1.4 million to the University of Colorado and $640,000 to Case Western Reserve University.
►Two of the most populous counties in California, San Francisco and Los Angeles County, are now eligible to move to the least restrictive tier in California’s reopening framework.
►The chairman of one of South Korea’s biggest dairy companies, Namyang Dairy Products, has resigned over a scandal in which his company was accused of deliberately spreading misinformation that its yogurt helps prevent coronavirus infections.
►Masks in Michigan are no longer required at small outdoor weddings, graduation parties or other similar events or while playing some youth sports, according to a new state health department order set to take effect Thursday.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 32.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 578,400 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: Over 154.4 million cases and 3.23 million deaths. More than 318.4 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and 247.7 million have been administered, according to the CDC. More than 106.16 million Americans have been fully vaccinated.
📘 What we’re reading: It may not take true “herd immunity” to see a dramatic drop in COVID-19 cases, some researchers say.
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40-something? Good chance you’ve been jabbed
Most Americans in their 40s are now at least partially vaccinated, CDC figures show. In data reported through Tuesday, about 51.7% of Americans in their 40s are now partially vaccinated, along with 44.9% of people in their 30s and 35.6% of people 18 to 29. Vaccination rates are higher with higher age ranges, although people 65 to 74 are slightly more likely to be partially or fully vaccinated than people who are 75 or older, the data show.
Dr. Anthony Fauci and other experts have estimated that it would take vaccination of 70% or more of population to reach herd immunity. Some researchers, however, now say another 30 million to 40 million first shots could be enough for the U.S. to reach a vaccine tipping point and containment of the pandemic.