A U.S. Army soldier from the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, immunizes Jacklina Mendez with the COVID-19 vaccine at the Miami Dade College North Campus on March 09, 2021 in North Miami, Florida.
Joe Raedle | Getty Images
Even as the pace of vaccinations accelerates in the U.S., Covid-19 cases are increasing in 21 states and highly infectious variants are spreading as governors relax restrictions on businesses like restaurants, bars and gyms.
Public health officials warn that while roughly 2.5 million people nationwide are receiving shots every day, infection levels have plateaued this month and some states have failed to reduce the number of daily cases.
The 7-day moving average of new infections plateaued at 54,666 as of Friday after declining for weeks, according to a CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.
More than 541,000 people in the U.S. have died of the disease.
White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci warned during a briefing on Friday that the country should not declare victory until the level of infection is “much, much lower.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky has also urged states not to reopen too quickly and undermine progress the country is making against the pandemic.
Knyckolas Davis (L) and Matthew Bettencourt celebrate Davis’s 35th birthday with friends at Rizzo’s Bar & Inn in Wrigleyville as coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions are relaxed in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., March 6, 2021.
Eileen T. Meslar | Reuters
“The concern is that throughout the country, there are a number of state, city, regions that are pulling back on some of the mitigation methods that we’ve been talking about: the withdrawal of mask mandates, the pulling back to essentially non-public health measures being implemented,” Fauci said at the briefing.
“So it is unfortunate but not surprising to me that you are seeing increases in number of cases per day in areas — cities, states, or regions — even though vaccines are being distributed at a pretty good clip of 2 to 3 million per day,” Fauci added. “That could be overcome if certain areas pull back prematurely on the mitigation and public health measures that we all talk about.”
Infections are rising in the following states: Alabama; Connecticut; Hawaii; Idaho; Illinois; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Missouri; Montana; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; North Dakota; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; Virginia; Washington; and West Virginia.
The highly contagious variant first identified in the U.K. likely accounts for up to 30% of Covid infections in the U.S. Health officials say the variant could become dominant by the end of this month or in early April.
The variant is seen as the cause of Europe’s third coronavirus wave. Several countries including France and Italy have imposed new lockdown measures to mitigate virus spread as cases surge.