The United States has surpassed 30 million COVID-19 cases, but the death rate has dipped below 1000 a day on average for the first time since November.
More than three months into the US vaccination drive, many of the numbers paint an increasingly encouraging picture, with 70 per cent of Americans 65 and older receiving at least one dose of the vaccine and COVID-19 deaths dipping below 1000 a day on average for the first time since November.
Also, dozens of states have thrown open vaccinations to all adults or are planning to do so in a matter of weeks. And the White House said 27 million doses of both the one-shot and two-shot vaccines will be distributed next week, more than three times the number when President Joe Biden took office two months ago.
Still, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said on Wednesday he isn’t ready to declare victory.
“I’m often asked, ‘Are we turning the corner?'” Fauci said at a White House briefing.
“My response is really more like we are at the corner. Whether or not we’re going to be turning that corner still remains to be seen.”
What’s giving Fauci pause, he said, is that new cases remain at a stubbornly high level, at more than 50,000 per day.
The US on Wednesday surpassed 30 million confirmed cases, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University. The number of deaths now stands at more than 545,000.
Public health experts are taking every opportunity to warn that relaxing social distancing and other preventive measures could easily lead to another surge.
Across the country are unmistakable signs of progress.
More than 43 per cent of Americans 65 and older – the most vulnerable age group, accounting for an outsize share of the nation’s more than 540,000 coronavirus deaths – have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The number of older adults showing up in emergency rooms with COVID-19 is down significantly. Vaccinations overall have ramped up to 2.5 million to 3 million shots per day.
Deaths per day in the US have dropped to an average of 940, down from an all-time high of over 3400 in mid-January.
Nationwide, new cases and the number of people hospitalised have plummeted over the past two months.
New cases are running at more than 53,000 a day on average, down from a peak of 250,000 in early January.
That’s uncomfortably close to levels seen during the COVID-19 wave of last northern summer.
Biden has pushed for states to make all adults eligible to be vaccinated by May 1.
Still, experts see reason to worry as more Americans start travelling and socialising again.
The number of daily travellers at US airports has consistently topped one million over the past week and a half amid spring break at many colleges.