Increasing COVID Cases – How Long Should We Wear Masks?
In late February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky made a concerning claim that the weekly average of confirmed cases in the U.S. has increased over the span of only three days. She cautions, “now is not the time to relax restrictions” (NPR). Recently, the 7-day average of deaths is approximately 2,000 per day, which is higher than the week before, Walensky reports.
CDC posted this on their Twitter: “As of Feb. 22, the 7-day average of new cases is 64,148.”
The United States has passed a total of 500,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic. On February 24, 2021, 503,587 COVID-19 deaths were reported. You can track your community’s COVID cases with CDC’s COVID Tracker.
So, what exactly is the reason for these upticks? The recent progress for COVID-19 cases has stalled due to the highly infectious new variants that are arising. CDC reports that the variants account for roughly 10% of the U.S. cases. The B.1.1.7 variant was first seen in the U.K. and is now rampant in certain areas of the country. B.1.1.7 is unfortunately 50% more transmissible than the strain circulating in the U.S. and will soon become the nation’s dominant strain by mid-March. This spike in numbers is further evidence that the B.1.1.7 variant is taking over.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prophesizes that 142,000 to 584,000 new cases will most likely be reported at the end of the week of March 20, 2021.
This is not the time to believe in a false sense of security that the pandemic is close to being over. Scientists are positive that this will continue for quite some time, even with vaccinations. Trust the data. This is not something to take lightly. Stay informed and stay diligent with following CDC guidelines.
Here is a reminder of how to prevent further spread (According to CDC):
- Wear a mask that fits snugly on your face in public areas (outdoors and indoors).
- Stay 6 feet apart and continue to social distance.
- Avoid gatherings! Especially ones that are in tightly closed spaces.
- Continue to practice proper hygiene; wash hands, don’t touch your face, cover your mouth when you cough, etc.
- Stay home when you are sick!
- Get vaccinated once it is accessible. Learn more about vaccines here.
According to NPR, a group of researchers from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation hypothesized that if 95% of people wear a mask in public, it could reduce transmission by 30%. Face masks are essential to saving lives. We all have a social responsibility to wear our masks and protect others.
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