‘We’re getting further away from the end than we should be’: Public health experts warn the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over

Transit passengers wear face masks as they disembark the Metro C Line, formerly Green Line, light rail train alongside the 105 Freeway at the Judge Harry Pregerson Interchange during rush hour traffic in Los Angeles, California on July 16, 2021.
Transit passengers wear face masks as they disembark the Metro C Line, formerly Green Line, light rail train alongside the 105 Freeway at the Judge Harry Pregerson Interchange during rush hour traffic in Los Angeles, California on July 16, 2021.

  • COVID-19 cases have been on the rise in all 50 states, a CNN analysis found.
  • Some areas are reinstating protective measures like mask mandates to curb the spread of the virus.
  • Public health experts are warning that it’s far too soon to believe the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Public health experts are warning that it’s too soon to say the COVID-19 pandemic is over and people across the globe need to take measures to reduce the spread of the virus.

“The world needs a reality check,” Maria Van Kerkhove, a World Health Organization epidemiologist, told The Washington Post.

COVID-19 cases in the country and across the globe are on the rise, and variants like Delta continue to pose a threat, especially to the unvaccinated.

In the US, cases are on the rise in all 50 states and Washington, DC, a CNN analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University found.

In 38 states, cases have risen at least 50% more than the previous week.

The Post reported that in low-vaccination states like Arkansas and Missouri, COVID-19 wards are reopening in hospitals as cases surge.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the CDC, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have been urging Americans for weeks, especially those in areas with low vaccination rates, to get vaccinated against the virus to protect themselves from the more transmissible Delta variant.

As the virus spreads it mutates, causing variants like Delta that could further evade current protection. While vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe disease and death, breakthrough infections are possible, and in many instances, these infections produce no or mild symptoms.

Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, previously told Insider that it’s possible vaccinated people who catch the virus are spreading it.

The World Health Organisation has recommended that even fully vaccinated people keep wearing masks.

“Vaccine alone won’t stop community transmission,” Mariangela Simao, an expert from the WHO said.

Fauci also said vaccinations limit further mutations. “It’s so easy to get vaccinated. Viruses don’t mutate if they can’t replicate, and you can prevent them from replicating by vaccinating enough people so that the virus has nowhere to go,” Fauci told NPR.

While 56% of all Americans are fully vaccinated, according to CDC data, much of the rest of the world is not.

“We’re getting further away from the end than we should be. We’re in a bad place right now globally,” Van Kerkhove told the Post.

Experts are concerned as people travel, especially without safety measures like masks and social distancing. Localities across the country are reinstating measures to curb the spread. Los Angeles County, for example, has reinstated indoor mask mandates.

Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, told the Post he was not surprised by the rise in cases this summer.

“It’s like we’ve been to this movie several times in the last year and a half, and it doesn’t end well. Somehow, we’re running the tape again. It’s all predictable,” Collins said.

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