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Coronavirus cases appear to level off with around 55,000 new infections a day


The numbers of Americans getting infected with coronavirus appears to be leveling off with around 55,000 new infections each day.

Although figures on the whole have been on a downward trajectory for several weeks, that pace appears to be slowing, coming at a ‘critical point’ as the country’s vaccination program continues apace.  

Over the last week there has been an average of 54,183 cases per day. The figures are a decrease of 11 per cent from the start of March.

On Friday, 1,510 new deaths and 60,279 new cases were reported. 

The numbers of people being infected have leveled off to around 55,000 a day but the country’s vaccination program is managing to distribute around 2.5 million doses a day

Air travel across the country hit its highest level since the pandemic began as Americans satisfy their urge to travel once again. Miami airport is pictured on Friday

Air travel across the country hit its highest level since the pandemic began as Americans satisfy their urge to travel once again. Miami airport is pictured on Friday

In many instances it is now a race between the virus and the vaccine with troubling new variants spreading which could threaten to weaken or evade the effectiveness of the injections.

‘I think it is a race against time,’ said Dr. Stephen J. Thomas, SUNY Upstate Medical University’s chief of infectious disease to the New York Times. ‘Every single person that we can get vaccinated or every single person that we can get a mask on is one less opportunity that a variant has.’ 

States along the East Coast appear to be struggling to reduce their cases. 

This, coupled with the fact many governors are now relaxing state restrictions is placing added pressure on the effort to drive the infection rate down further.

Businesses including bars, indoor gyms and casinos are reopening and increasing capacity. Restaurants are also reopening and indoor dining is also making a return. 

Some public health experts warn this could increase the risk of spread – especially with the new variants, though others – such as Florida officials – defend re-opening and say people can be trusted to be careful. 

The numbers of people being infected have leveled off to around 55,000 a day

The numbers of people being infected have leveled off to around 55,000 a day

1,510 new deaths and 60,279 new cases were reported on Friday.

1,510 new deaths and 60,279 new cases were reported on Friday.

Current levels of deaths and infections are at levels well below the peak

Current levels of deaths and infections are at levels well below the peak 

Many governors are now relaxing state restrictions including those on indoor dining. Diners eat and drink at the Hungry Rhino restaurant in Windsor Locks, Connecticut

Many governors are now relaxing state restrictions including those on indoor dining. Diners eat and drink at the Hungry Rhino restaurant in Windsor Locks, Connecticut

Carolyn Traub, an interpreter, reacts after receiving a vaccine while holding her dog, Phoebe, at a mobile coronavirus disease vaccine clinic for members of the deaf and blind community, organized by Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, Washington

Carolyn Traub, an interpreter, reacts after receiving a vaccine while holding her dog, Phoebe, at a mobile coronavirus disease vaccine clinic for members of the deaf and blind community, organized by Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, Washington

Air travel across the country hit its highest level since the pandemic began as Americans satisfy their urge to travel once again.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert is warning people not to be complacent. 

‘It’s really quite risky to declare victory before you have the level of infection in the community to a much, much lower level than 53,000 cases per day.

‘So it is unfortunate, but not surprising, to me that you are seeing increases in number of cases per day in areas,  cities, states or regions , even though vaccines are being distributed at a pretty good clip of 2 to 3 million per day,’ Dr. Fauci said. 

Although states are far from their record numbers of 2020 there are still some troubling warning signs.  

Michigan has seen case numbers rise by more than 80 per cent in the last couple of weeks, while in south Florida, where restrictions are virtually non-existent, infection levels are stubbornly high with around 1,000 new cases a day in Miami-Dade county alone. 

In south Florida, where restrictions are virtually non-existent, infraction levels are stubbornly high with around 1,000 new cases a day in Miami-Dade county alone.u00A0Clearwater Beach, Florida during Spring Break is pictured

In south Florida, where restrictions are virtually non-existent, infraction levels are stubbornly high with around 1,000 new cases a day in Miami-Dade county alone. Clearwater Beach, Florida during Spring Break is pictured

Elementary school students can be spaced closer together regardless of COVID-19 community transmission, but middle and high school students can only sit feet three apart if coronavirus spread in their area is not high (file photo)

Elementary school students can be spaced closer together regardless of COVID-19 community transmission, but middle and high school students can only sit feet three apart if coronavirus spread in their area is not high (file photo)

In schools, students have been told they can now safely sit just 3 feet apart in the classroom as long as they wear masks but should be kept the usual 6 feet away from one another at sporting events, assemblies, lunch or choir practice, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday in relaxing its COVID-19 guidelines.

The revised recommendations represent a turn away from the 6-foot standard that has sharply limited how many students some schools can accommodate. Some places have had to remove desks, stagger schedules and take other steps to keep children apart.

Three feet ‘gives school districts greater flexibility to have more students in for a prolonged period of time,’ said Kevin Quinn, director of maintenance and facilities at Mundelein High School in suburban Chicago.

In recent months, schools in some states have been disregarding the CDC guidelines, using 3 feet as their standard. Studies of what happened in some of them helped sway the agency, said Greta Massetti, who leads the CDC’s community interventions task force.

‘We don´t really have the evidence that 6 feet is required in order to maintain low spread,’ she said. Also, younger children are less likely to get seriously ill from the coronavirus and don’t seem to spread it as much as adults do, and ‘that allows us that confidence that that 3 feet of physical distance is safe.’

Former president Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort has been partially closed after 'some' staff members were diagnosed with Covid-19

Former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort has been partially closed after ‘some’ staff members were diagnosed with Covid-19

Meanwhile, former president Donald Trump’s Florida resort Mar-a-Lago has been partially closed after some members of staff tested positive for the coronavirus, US media reported Friday.

‘As some of our staff have recently tested positive for Covid-19, we will be temporarily suspending service at the Beach Club and a la carte Dining Room,’ the club’s management said in an email

It did not specify how many members of staff had been infected.

Now serving as the former president’s official residence since he left the White House in January, the club said banquet and event services would stay open and that ‘all appropriate response measures in accordance with CDC guidance’ had been taken to sanitize the property.

Palm Beach County sent the club a formal warning in January that it had violated county code and could be fined after photos from a New Year’s party showed many guests not wearing masks.

The club is to host events during the Republican National Committee spring retreat in Florida next month.

WHICH CORONAVIRUS VARIANTS COULD WEAKEN VACCINES?  

Viruses are constantly evolving, so there are and always will be countless ‘variants’ of coronavirus. 

But not all variants are worrisome. Most are no more dangerous than the most common form. Some are weaker. 

In the U.S., there are currently five ‘variants of concern.’ All appear to be more infectious than the ‘wild type’ that caused the vast majority of infections in the previous waves of the pandemic. Only some might weaken vaccine effectiveness or evade vaccines.

‘UK VARIANT’ B117 

IS IT MORE INFECTIOUS? Yes, estimated to be 50-70% more infectious 

IS IT MORE DEADLY? That isn’t well-established. The latest research suggests it may be up to 55% more fatal.  

CAN IT ‘ESCAPE’ VACCINES OR REINFECT PEOPLE? No. Vaccines appear so far to work just as well against B117 and it does not seem to reinfect people. 

‘SOUTH AFRICAN’ VARIANT B1351

IS IT MORE INFECTIOUS? Yes, estimated to be about 50% more infectious 

IS IT MORE DEADLY? No, so far the variant appears to have about the same mortality risks as forms that are more prevalent in the U.S. 

CAN IT ‘ESCAPE’ VACCINES OR REINFECT PEOPLE? There is early evidence to suggest that vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna are weakened by the variant, but are still protective. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine was 82% effective at preventing severe COVID-19 in trials in South Africa, where the variant is dominant. 

‘BRAZILIAN’ VARIANT P1 

IS IT MORE INFECTIOUS? Perhaps. It quickly became dominant in Brazil, and reinfection was common among COVID-19 survivors in Manaus. One study estimated it to be twice as infectious as the older form of the virus. 

IS IT MORE DEADLY? Perhaps. One study estimated that the risk of death from COVID-19 increased by 10 to 80% after the variant became dominant in Brazil, but the health care system there collapsed, making cause and effect unclear.

CAN IT ‘ESCAPE’ VACCINES OR REINFECT PEOPLE? It’s well established that the Brazilian variant reinfects people, suggesting antibodies developed from prior infection or via vaccines based on the original strain don’t work as well against it. 

‘CALIFORNIAN’ VARIANTS B1427 AND B1429

IS IT MORE INFECTIOUS? Yes, they are estimated to be 20% more infectious. 

IS IT MORE DEADLY? Unclear. There is not enough data to show an increase in mortality risks.

CAN IT ‘ESCAPE’ VACCINES OR REINFECT PEOPLE? Both variants make the antibodies triggered by vaccines somewhat weaker in lab tests. A ‘monoclonal’ antibody therapy from Eli Lilly doesn’t appear to work well against them, though combination antibody ‘cocktails’ from Lilly and Regeneron still seem to work. 

 



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