A steep rise in Covid-19 cases in Europe should serve as a warning that the US could also see significant increases in coronavirus cases this winter, particularly in the nation’s colder regions, scientists say.
According to Newsweek, the latest figures show 24 states have seen 100 percent increases in daily COVID-19 cases over the last week. These states include Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, and Alaska.
Twenty-two other states are also reporting increases in COVID-19 cases, though some at much smaller rates. According to MLive, Michigan’s daily COVID-19 case average reached 7,353 on Wednesday, marking a more than 100 percent increase over the last week.
Particularly worrying is the increase in pediatric cases in Michigan. “We currently are managing. It’s absolutely manageable, but … it appears as though there’s trouble around the corner,” said Dr. Rudolph Valentini, a pediatric nephrologist at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, reports The Detroit Free Press.
There is some good news, though. Four states have actually seen a decrease in COVID cases over the past week. These states include Nebraska, which has seen a nearly 5 percent decrease in cases, Minnesota which has seen a 6 percent decrease, Vermont which has seen a 15.5 percent decrease, and Alabama, where cases fell by nearly 40 percent.
Cautious optimism does exist
There is some cautious optimism as the country enters its second COVID-19 winter. We now have vaccines that protect against hospitalizations and deaths, children five and up can now be vaccinated, and new antiviral medications hold the promise of making Covid-19 a treatable disease.
“I do expect to see cases increasing – we’ve started to see this in the last week or so,” said Dr. David Dowdy, an associate professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University.
“I don’t think what we’re seeing in Europe means we’re in for a huge surge of serious illness and death as we [saw] here in the US,” last winter.
“Even if cases go up this winter, we’re very unlikely to see the overcrowded [intensive care units] and morgues of a year ago,” said Dowdy.
However, vaccine distribution is highly uneven across the US. Just 58.6 percent of the nation is vaccinated, lower than vaccination rates in some European nations now struggling with an increase in Covid-19 cases, such as in Germany and France.
Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and co-director of the Texas Children’s hospital’s center for vaccine development says, “I’ve been predicting a pretty bad winter wave again, and it looks like it’s starting to happen.”
“There’s just too many unvaccinated and too many partially vaccinated [people]” to stop the “aggressive” Delta variant, Hotez said.