A Dangerous Trend in Virus Cases

Chart of coronavirus cases per 100,000 in the U.S. compared to other countries

By The New York Times | Sources: Governments and health agencies, World Bank

Chart of coronavirus cases per 100,000 in the U.S. compared to other countries

Murray Neb.––The U.S. appears to be in the midst of the much feared fourth coronavirus wave. While cases were down and plateaued, there is a new upward trend which could be the beginning of a new wave. In Nebraska, Cass County sticks out as being one of the particularly problematic counties.

This comes after many states have lifted restrictions such as mask mandates despite warnings from health officials about the possibility of increased caseloads. And after a year of covid, people are more eager than ever to get back to normal. This can mean a drop in precautions, especially as they are being told that cases are down. Governors lifting mask mandates encourages this message. It tells citizens that we’re in the clear and we don’t have to worry anymore, when really this becomes farther from the truth everyday.

Another concerning factor is the new British variant which has been found in every U.S. state. The B.1.1.7 variant as it is referred to is both more contagious, and suspected to be more deadly. This could mean bad news for preventing new, worse outbreaks. Vaccinations won’t stop them either. While it appears that they are effective against the variants, even at five times more than the global average rate, vaccines simply aren’t going out fast enough. Dr. Michael Osterholm is the director for the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. Speaking to CNN’s Erin Burnett, he said, “We are not going to have enough vaccines, the way we are going, into the arms of enough Americans over the course of the next six to 10 weeks with this surge that we are going to stop it. It’s just simply not going to happen.” With more people likely needing to be hospitalized, health care workers will be even more overwhelmed than before.

New variants are also proving to be more dangerous to young people who were previously faring better against the virus. While they become more susceptible, the vaccines are mostly being given to older and high risk individuals. Though Dr. Juan Salazar of Connecticut Children’s told News 8, “15% of the COVID-19 cases occur in children under the age of 19, and many under the age of 16,” there is as of yet no approved vaccine for children under the age of sixteen. Pfizer’s remains the only vaccine to be approved for as low as 16 years old.

All of these factors contribute to what may be an inevitable outbreak more dangerous and sudden than before. If safety measures such as masking and social distancing are ignored, the pandemic may never end as variants with increased vaccine resistance form. This is why it is important that these precautions are taken even if they aren’t enforced, because masks really do work.