CHN’s COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship April 2, 2021
March 19, 2021
The fourth surge fears edition. “Impending doom.” Those off-script words were issued this week by CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky who warned of spring spikes in COVID-19 cases across the country. Already we are seeing rising caseloads in many states, particularly in the Northeast and Upper Midwest. Overall, daily infection rates in the U.S. are much higher than they were two weeks ago – although, thankfully, not nearly as high as they were in January, which witnessed the largest death toll so far in the pandemic.
The reasons why public health experts such as Dr. Walensky think a fourth surge either has arrived or is imminent are varied. A more contagious variant of COVID-19 (the one first identified in Britain, called B.1.1.7) is spreading. Local officials and governors are lifting restrictions and mask rules. Many Americans are behaving less cautiously. On Thursday, the Opening Day of Major League Baseball, the Texas Rangers planned to allow full attendance at their ballpark. Although every American 16 years and older will soon be eligible to receive a vaccination, the roll-out right now has not occurred in sufficient numbers to arrest the pandemic’s spread – so far, just over one in three Americans has received at least the first dose, far short of what is needed to achieve herd immunity.
Meanwhile, a new CDC report issued Wednesday, March 31 reveals that COVID-19 was the third underlying cause of death in 2020, after heart disease and cancer. Approximately 375,000 COVID-19-related deaths were reported in 2020 in the U.S., and death rates were generally twice as high among American Indian and Alaskan Native persons, Latinx, Blacks, and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander persons than among whites.
On a happier note, President Biden this week began unveiling his economic recovery plan. We’ll be writing more about that in future editions of COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship. But for now, suffice it to say, Biden’s plan will build upon the American Rescue Plan to put our nation back to work. Rebuilding both our human and physical infrastructure is the best way to create jobs and get the economy moving. Done right, it can also address racial and income inequality, and create a more fair economy, with opportunity for more Americans.