A variant, first identified in the UK, has been reported in 2,672 cases in 46 states as of Thursday, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And it spreads quickly.
“We are literally sitting over it, at a time when we are not preparing better, but opening up and inviting the virus,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
Support for measures to protect against the virus is waning as most adults in the US qualify for vaccines by the summer, according to a new survey.
Although less than a third of respondents said less action should be taken, support for additional restrictions has been declining since November, according to new research from the Pew Research Center.
However, health experts say the road to herd immunity is still a long way off and that masks and other restrictions are still vital to managing the pandemic.
A new CDC study shows “masks work,” said CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky during a Covid-19 briefing at the White House on Friday.
“You have fewer cases and deaths when you wear masks and you have more cases and deaths when you dine in person. So we would advocate guidelines – certainly while we are on this plateau of high numbers Cases – that would listen to this public health science, “Walensky said.
The states range from relaxation restrictions
As the US approaches widespread vaccination, many states are changing their policies regarding Covid-19 restrictions.
In Maine, Governor Janet Mills said Friday the state will continue to need masks but announced a new framework to slowly reopen the state. By March 26, the state will increase its indoor gathering capacity to 50% and outdoor capacity to 75%.
And in West Virginia, some businesses, including restaurants, bars, gyms, and museums, may open with 100% seating capacity starting Saturday, but social distancing is still required, Governor Jim Justice said Friday.
In Texas, every business is 100% open from March 10th, and the requirement for residents to wear masks has been lifted.
Not all heads of state are comfortable with the changes.
“I am deeply concerned about states that are removing the mask mandate because they are sending a signal that it is no longer important, and that is not true. In fact, it is just as important as ever,” said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said.
“I encourage my fellow governors and local officials who make decisions in some states to keep the mask mandate, set good examples, and keep doing responsible things.”
Detroit Mayor Turns Down Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Allocation
Many experts have celebrated the approval of the third coronavirus vaccine: Johnson & Johnson’s, a single vaccine that is stored at temperatures more convenient for transportation and storage.
But there have been some setbacks.
Duggan declined the delivery because the city can meet current demand with the supply of Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna vaccines – even when his government extended vaccination eligibility on Thursday to residents 50 and older with chronic conditions.
All three vaccines are highly effective in preventing serious illnesses from Covid-19, and health officials have urged people to take every Covid-19 vaccine on offer.
“The day can come in March or April when every single Moderna and Pfizer are committed, and we still have people in need of a vaccine. And by that time we will set up a Johnson & Johnson center next couple of weeks,” said Duggan.
CDC instructions for the vaccinated
The CDC guide to vaccinated people is coming soon, Walensky said. The guidelines should be published this week.
“Our goal, and most importantly, is that vaccinated and unvaccinated people understand what steps they can take to protect themselves and their loved ones,” she said.
More than 82 million doses of vaccine have been administered in the United States, and after a year of life turned upside down, many want to know what the future holds.
“I think people need practical advice for their everyday lives,” said Julia Marcus, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Harvard. “I think, without guidance, people can make decisions that are not informed.”
According to a Biden government official, while the guidelines do not allow people who have been vaccinated to live like 2019 again, the guidelines give hope that the end of total social isolation is near.
CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas, Jacqueline Howard, Kay Jones, Anjali Huynh, Amir Vera, Heather Law, Ganesh Setty and Jen Christensen contributed to this report.