The U.S. continues to struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic, with the average number of new daily cases recently hovering around 150,000 and 1,500 deaths per day. The case numbers are four times higher than they were at this time last year. And right now the U.S. is recording twice the number of hospitalizations compared with last September.
It comes as America has hit a new milestone – 75 percent of adults have now gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Meanwhile, over the Labor Day weekend, college football kicked off with hundreds of thousands of screaming fans packed shoulder-to-shoulder into stadiums. Only five college teams and three professional ones reportedly require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test before entering.
Despite the CDC warning against unvaccinated people traveling over the holiday weekend, the T.S.A. screened 3.5 million air travelers, a number not seen since before the pandemic. Highways, beaches, and national parks were all packed.
“I’m hoping we won’t see a major spike, but after every single holiday we have seen a jump in infections and hospitalizations and deaths,” said Ashish Jha, M.D., dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.
As children return to the classrooms, heated debates have resumed over whether they should wear masks. Just in the last week, nearly 252,000 children tested positive for COVID-19, prompting 1,400 schools in 35 states to revert back to distance learning.
While most of the U.S. adult and pediatric hospitalizations and deaths are among the unvaccinated or those without natural immunity, new data shows vaccines aren’t as effective as they once were, prompting calls for boosters as early as this month.
“From my own experience as an immunologist,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, “I would not at all be surprised that the adequate full regimen for vaccination will likely be three doses.”
While the delta variant makes up 99 percent of all U.S. cases, health experts are examining a new variant, mu, which has been detected in 49 states.
“While we have a concern that mu could evade the vaccine, it’s not spreading fast enough to be a real concern yet,” said epidemiologist and Harvard Medical School professor Dr. John Brownstein. “But the jury is still out.”