US Coronavirus: Country is at tipping point of another Covid-19 surge, expert

But it’s not over just yet.

Infection numbers, after weeks of declines, now seem to have plateaued at high levels. The US has averaged more than 60,000 Covid-19 cases daily in the past week. More than 41,000 people remain hospitalized with the virus nationwide, according to the COVID Tracking Project. And an average of more than 1,700 US Covid-19 deaths were reported every day for the past seven days.
And highly contagious variants that are already circulating have experts worried another Covid-19 spike could be just weeks away. More than 2,700 cases of variants first spotted in the UK, South Africa and Brazil have been reported in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — but the agency has cautioned that’s not the total number of cases in the country, but rather those that have been spotted with the help of genomic sequencing.

The vast majority of these cases — at least 2,672 — are the more contagious variant known as B.1.1.7, first spotted in the UK. The variant has been found in 46 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, DC.

“That strain is increasing exponentially, it’s spiking up,” infectious diseases specialist and epidemiologist Dr. Celine Gounder told CNN Saturday. “So we are probably right now on a tipping point of another surge.”

Speaking on the dangers of that variant, Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, warned CNN on Friday, “that virus is about to take off in the United States.”

The variants are a big reason why experts have repeatedly warned that now is the time to double down on measures that work to curb the spread of the virus — and not ease Covid-19 restrictions.

“There are so many reasons why you don’t want to pull back just now,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN late last week. “You want to plan that you will be able, within a reasonable time, to pull back. But not at a time when we have circulating variants and when you have what looks like a plateauing of the decline in the cases.”

Visitors to the Pearl Brewery use circles marked for social distancing on Wednesday, March 3, 2021, in San Antonio, Texas

These states announced loosened restrictions last week

Despite health leaders’ warnings, several state leaders announced they were easing Covid-19 restrictions.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday he was lifting the statewide mask mandate and doing away with any capacity limits on businesses, beginning March 10.
“It is now time to open Texas 100%,” he said.
On the same day, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said he was lifting all county mask mandates and would allow businesses to operate at full capacity without any state-imposed rules.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced revisions to public health orders on Tuesday, including dropping a 300-person limit for events at banquet centers. On Thursday, he said that when the state reaches 50 cases per 100,000 people for two weeks, all health orders will be lifted.

Meanwhile, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer unveiled a series of eased restrictions, including expanded capacity for restaurants, retail, gyms, stadiums and other facilities.

And in Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards also loosened restrictions. The majority of businesses — including restaurants and salons — are now allowed to operate at 75%…

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