Experts warn that the U.S. is in “the eye of a hurricane” and can expect another strong surge of COVID-19 cases as variants spread across the country. They warned that the virus variant from the U.K. is particularly ominous as it is more contagious.
“That strain is increasing exponentially,” said infectious disease expert Dr. Celine Grounder, according to Business Insider. “So we are probably right now on a tipping point of another surge.”
Research shows that the U.K. variant called B.1.1.7 is between 59% and 74% more transmissible than the original coronavirus.
The warnings come shortly after several states including Mississippi, Iowa, Montana, North Dakota, and Texas lifted mask-wearing mandates. While the number of new daily cases of COVID-19 has dropped to 70,000 from previous highs of 240,000, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CBS’ Face the Nation Sunday that this “is not an acceptable level.”
Fauci pointed to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in Europe that occurred after their numbers fell, then plateaued, and now are increasing.
“So the message we are saying is that we do want to come back slowly and carefully about pulling back mitigation efforts,” he said.
Dr. Michael Osterholm, a former Biden advisor on COVID-19 and a leading epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota, echoed the alert.
“Let me just say we are in the eye of the hurricane right now,” he said, according to The Hill. “We’ve been through a terrible, terrible year. But what we need to know is about to come upon us is the situation with the B. 1.1.7 variant. A virus that originated in the United Kingdom that today is wreaking havoc in parts of Europe.”
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that we could see a fourth surge of the virus if Americans do not follow public health recommendations.
“Now is not the time to relax the critical safeguards that we know can stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities,” she said, according to Business Insider.
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