More than three months into the U.S. vaccination drive, many of the numbers paint an increasingly encouraging picture.
Seventy percent of Americans 65 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and COVID-19 deaths have dipped below 1,000 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.
The outlook in the U.S. stands in stark contrast to the deteriorating situation in places like Brazil and Europe. At the same time, public health experts in the U.S. are warning at every turn that it’s too early to declare victory.
Public health experts say that getting as many Americans vaccinated as quickly as possible will limit the effect of variant strains of the coronavirus. As the virus mutates, the COVID-19 vaccines become less effective.
Health experts also say that the faster viruses spread, the faster viruses mutate. But in addition to getting people vaccinated, the CDC says that social distancing measures should continued to be followed while there is still community spread of the virus.
"We are at a critical point in this pandemic, a fork in the road, where we as a country must decide which path we are going to take,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC director, said. “We must act now, and I am worried that if we don't take the right actions now, we will have another avoidable surge -- just as we are seeing in Europe right now and just as we are so aggressively scaling up vaccination."
Dr. Anthony Fauci agreed.
"We are at the corner, whether or not we're going to be turning that corner still remains to be seen depending upon what Dr. Walensky said," Fauci said. "Not to repeat it. We do have a lot of challenges in front of us with regard to the high level of daily infections yesterday being 54,974. When you're at that level, I don't think you can declare victory and say, you've turned the corner. You've got to continue to do what we're doing. More vaccinations and continue to do public health measures until we actually do turn the corner."