Your Weekly Coronavirus Update
As many may know, the Moderna coronavirus vaccine was approved and has made its way into the arms of healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents. Yesterday Dr. Joseph Varon in Texas told CNN as he was about to get vaccinated, “I don’t cry, but I came very close.. You know how many lives you can save with this?” For many medical personnel like Dr. Varon, unimaginable amounts of death certificates have been signed due to Covid-19, so the emergence of two vaccines feels like there will be a change of course.
However, with the arrival of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus vaccines, the spread of the virus in the United States has not slowed. Amid the holiday season, the U.S. has reached 319,000 coronavirus deaths and over 18 million cases per John Hopkins University, and more holiday travel could bring another surge similar to what we saw after the Thanksgiving weekend. Public health authorities have urged against family get-togethers and social events for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays in order to avoid another spike in cases. Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, explains that, “No one’s trying to take Christmas away from anyone, but we don’t want future Christmases eliminated because somebody became infected and died.”
Since the weeks following Thanksgiving, the United States has averaged over 215,000 new cases of Covid-19 each day. While spending the holidays with family and friends is always ideal, it may be in your best interest this year to spend it virtually or with members of your direct household, according to the CDC.
In addition to avoiding holiday travel, medical professionals like Dr. Nathan Schlicher have no plans to change their cautious behavior any time soon, even after receiving the Covid-19 vaccine. While there are now effective vaccines available, doses are limited to medical professionals and staff, and long-term care residents, so it will be months before the general public has access to them. In the meantime, it is more important than ever to keep wearing your masks and social distancing as much as possible.
As for outside of the United States, a new strain of Covid-19 has made its way to Italy, Denmark, Netherlands and the U.K. It is suspected that this more-contagious new strain may have already entered the U.S. as well, but U.S. surgeon general-elect Vivek Murthy says, “it is not necessarily more deadly.”