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The United States is on the verge of totaling 500,000 deaths linked to Covid-19. That is why it is essential to maintain security measures, says Fauci

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Just over a year after the first known death from Covid-19 in the United States, more than 500,000 people will have died from the disease by the end of this week.

“It’s something that’s historic. It’s nothing like we’ve ever been in the past 102 years since the 1918 influenza pandemic, ”said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“It’s really a terrible situation that we went through and that we are still going through. And that’s why we keep pushing for continued public health measures – because we don’t want the situation to get much worse than it already is.

More than 497,600 people have died from Covid-19 in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University.

And 91,000 more Americans are expected to die from the disease by June 1, according to the University of Washington Institute for Health Measurement and Evaluation.

The decrease in new Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations in recent weeks has prompted some heads of state and locals to ease restrictions.

But as new variants of the coronavirus spread, health experts say doubling up on safety measures is essential to prevent another catastrophic outbreak.

“The most uncertain factor in the trajectory of the epidemic over the next four months is how individuals will respond to the steady decline in daily cases and deaths,” the IHME team wrote.

“Faster increases in mobility or reductions in mask use can easily lead to increased cases and deaths in many states in April.”

‘Rapid growth’ of strain B.1.1.7 expected

Several worrying new variants of the coronavirus have been discovered in the United States, including the highly contagious strain B.1.1.7 first detected in the United Kingdom.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has projected “rapid growth” of the B.1.1.7 strain across the United States, saying it will likely become the predominant variant in the country by March.

The IHME team said that while the B.1.1.7 strain likely accounts for less than 20% of coronavirus infections currently, that number could climb to 80% by the end of April.

That’s why experts say the United States should step up testing as well: not only to track infections and antibodies, but variants as well.

“We were late on testing from day one,” Kathleen Sebelius, former secretary of Health and Human Services said Saturday.

She said the United States must “focus both on the tests we need to identify who has the disease and then on the serological tests that will tell us more about the antibodies and the type of variant that is. circulates. “

5.5% of the United States are fully vaccinated

Although vaccinations are ongoing, they are unlikely to help the United States achieve herd immunity levels anytime soon.

So far, more than 42.8 million Americans have received at least the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to CDC data.

More than 17.8 million people have been fully immunized. This represents about 5.5% of the American population.

Herd immunity is achieved when the majority of the population becomes immune to an infectious disease – either through infection and recovery, or through vaccination.

The Fauci estimates that between 70% and 85% of the American population must be immunized for herd immunity to take effect against the virus.

The IHME team wrote that they don’t expect the country to achieve collective immunity until next winter.

“The model suggests we should have a calm summer,” IHME director Dr Chris Murray told CNN on Friday. “But we know Covid is really seasonal, so when the next winter rolls around we have to have a much higher level of protection to stop Covid in its tracks than we are likely to achieve.

To speed up taking at least the first doses in the arms, the United States should consider delaying the second dose of the vaccine, another expert said.

“Everyone needs a second dose, there’s no question about it,” Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health said Friday. “I think the question is, right now we are waiting four weeks between the first and second dose. What if we stayed six weeks, eight weeks, or ten weeks – not much longer. “

His comments came on the same day that two senior US officials – Andy Slavitt, senior advisor to the White House Covid-19 response team and Fauci – said they didn’t think the US should delay or skip the second doses of vaccine. Jha says his suggestion is common ground to quickly vaccinate more high-risk people.

Teachers union calls CDC guidelines a ‘safety guardrail’

Amid the ongoing challenges for vaccinations and concerns of another increase in cases, local leaders are also struggling to understand what a safe return to class looks like.

The school reopening guidelines released by the CDC this month focus on five key Covid-19 mitigation strategies: universal and correct wearing of masks; physical distancing; hand washing; cleaning of facilities and improvement of ventilation; and contact tracing, isolation and quarantine.

Vaccines and tests are “extra layers” of protection, the agency said.

CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky told a White House briefing on Friday that with these strategies schools can open regardless of the spread of the virus in a community.

“There are opportunities for face-to-face learning at all stages of… the spread of the community,” Walensky said. “I would actually invite schools to lean in and consider what is needed… to try to get more and more kids back to school.”

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, told CNN on Saturday that the agency’s guidelines are a “guardrail” for teachers – and in a recent poll, most educators said they would be comfortable returning to class with the help of tests. , vaccine prioritization and mitigation strategies are in place.

But so far, only about 28 states and Washington, DC, have started allowing all or some teachers and school staff to receive the vaccine.

And schools face another challenge when it comes to reopening for in-person teaching, Weingarten added.

When schools put some of these measures in place, including smaller class sizes and social distancing, they need more space and more educators, Weingarten said.

“The reason you have so many places that are in hybrid is that they don’t have space and they don’t have educators,” she said. “The real problem right now is how can we help take the far places and turn the tide.”

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