Make no mistake: The United States still is at one of its worst spots of the coronavirus pandemic. Daily deaths are near a peak, and other daily stats still are stunningly high compared to where they’d been before a late 2020 surge.
Yet Covid-19 case and hospitalization numbers have been falling. Vaccines are here, more versions may be near and warmer weather is approaching.
Some health experts say the US even has a chance to experience life a little more normally by early fall. Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci made that prediction last week, assuming 70% to 85% of the US population was vaccinated by end of summer.
Standing in the way are lagging daily inoculation rates, vaccine supply shortages and hesitation by some to get the shots. And variants of the virus that appear to be more transmissible are turning up more frequently, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which warns they could worsen the already raging spread of the virus.
Still, President Joe Biden’s administration says it has taken steps to hasten vaccinations. And experts including Fauci are optimistic that current vaccines will largely protect against known variants, though they warn the more the virus spreads, the greater chance mutations could defeat current vaccines.
So, as the nation waits for widespread vaccines, the steps people should take to slow the spread are the same as always: wear masks, avoid congregate settings and wash hands, experts have said.
Covid-19 numbers are on a downswing
• New daily recorded cases in the US are falling. Health experts had warned that the November-December holidays, with boosts in travel and indoor gatherings, would send Covid-19 cases soaring.
And soar they did, reaching a pandemic-record average of more than 249,200 cases a day across a week as of January 10, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
The surge has fallen off: The average was down to about 166,380 cases a day across a week as of Tuesday – a drop of more than 33% from the peak.
And the country has reported fewer than 200,000 new cases a day for 10 straight days – the longest such stretch since before Thanksgiving.
• Hospitalizations are falling: About 108,950 Covid-19 patients were in US hospitals on Tuesday – a number generally dropping since a pandemic peak of 132,474 patients recorded January 6.
The statistic is now about where it was just before mid-December, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
• Deaths reported per day are hovering just under a record: The country averaged 3,349 Covid-19 deaths a day across a week as of Tuesday.
That’s very close to a pandemic peak average of 3,355 reached on January 13 – and far ahead of the averages around 1,000 just in mid-November.
Experts have said movements in the volume of deaths can lag weeks behind case and hospitalization numbers, because those who succumb to the disease can first be sick for weeks.