Source: Health Policy Institute of Ohio
Across the country, the outlook for the COVID-19 pandemic has improved, putting the United States in its best position against the virus yet (Source: “‘Turning the Corner’: U.S. COVID Outlook Reaches Most Hopeful Point Yet,” New York Times, May 6, 2021).
The nation is recording about 49,000 new cases a day, the lowest number since early October 2020, and hospitalizations have plateaued at around 40,000, a similar level as the early fall 2020. Nationwide, deaths are hovering around 700 a day, down from a peak of more than 3,000 in January 2021.
“We’re clearly turning the corner,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
Public health experts remain cautious, but said that while they still expect significant local and regional surges in the coming weeks, they do not think they will be as widespread or reach past peaks.
In the past, lulls in the pandemic were short-lived, giving way to the surge across the Sun Belt last summer, and the painful outbreak that stretched across the United States this past winter.
But now, there is one crucial difference: More than half of American adults — 148 million people — have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, perhaps the biggest reason experts are optimistic that the improved outlook may last. Cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have also fallen at a time when the weather is getting warmer, which, in many places, will allow people to spend more time outdoors, where the virus spreads less easily.