States Reopening too Soon, Experts Fear

A pharmacist prepares a syringe with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine  in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

Medical experts have urged caution as states reopen indoor businesses and encourage public events.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the head of the federal Centers for Disease Control, said during a White House briefing that the falling of coronavirus infection rates has stalled, and emerging variant strain have the ominous potential to erase the hard earned gains against the disease.

“I remain deeply concerned about a potential shift in the trajectory of the pandemic,’’ said Walensky, according to the New York Post.

“The latest CDC data continue to suggest that recent declines in cases have leveled off at a very high number,” she continued, noting that cases and deaths have risen by 2 percent in a week, and the current averages are nearly 68,000 cases and 2,000 deaths a day.

“With these new statistics, I’m really worried about reports that more states are rolling back the exact public-health measures we have recommended to protect people from COVID-19,” the CDC chief said. “At this level of cases, with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained.”

Many states, including New York and New Jersey, have been pushing for public schools to reopen and for relaxing indoor business and restaurant restrictions. In some western states such as Iowa, masks are now mandatory. The states are relying on rapidly vaccinating their populations to prevent outbreaks as they shift from worrying about containing the virus to recovering economically.

Walensky warned that emerging variants, both international ones such as the UK strain and the South African strain, and domestic strains emerging in California and New York, may undo hard-earned protections against the coronavirus and send cases soaring back up.

New strains may be more resistant to antibodies and the vaccine, leaving people who had been protected earlier more vulnerable. Pfizer and Moderna have announced they were researching the vaccine’s effectiveness against the emerging mutations, and may modify their vaccines or even add another shot to the regiment.