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US races to vaccinate for virus as potential fourth surge looms

Published: Apr. 5, 2021 at 8:46 AM MDT
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(CNN) - An infectious disease expert described the current state of the coronavirus pandemic as a Category 5 hurricane.

That opinion is not shared by some other experts, who believe we are getting closer to the end of the tunnel.

“We will see in the next two weeks the highest number of cases reported globally since the beginning of the pandemic,” said Dr. Michael Osterholm with the University of Minnesota.

The U.S. passed a huge milestone this weekend, averaging more than 3 million COVID vaccine shots in arms per day.

But even as the country’s vaccination efforts persist, some health experts worry the increase of COVID-19 variants puts the country on the cusp of a surge in cases.

“There isn’t a country in the world right now that has seen a big increase in this B117 that is not locking down. We are the exception,” Osterholm said. “Now, I understand the absolute resistance in this country to even consider that. You know, it’s kind of trying to drink barbed wire. But the bottom-line message is the virus is going to do what it’s going to do, and we’re going to have to respond somehow.”

A total of 19 states have seen an increase in cases over last week, including parts of the Northeast and Midwest.

Cases are up 19% from two weeks ago, with young people making up a growing number of new cases. Health experts say that more vaccinations can keep a surge in check.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a true fourth wave,” said Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former FDA commissioner. “I think the Biden administration can allocate to parts of the country that look hot right now. But if we could get two or three weeks of around 3 million vaccines a day that’s going to be a true backstop against a true fourth surge.”

In Michigan, cases have risen substantially over the past few weeks. On Saturday, the state reported more than 9,000 new infections.

At an Easter church service in Detroit, Pastor Kenneth Flowers encouraging his congregation to get vaccinated.

“You must have your faith, but you must also use the doctors, so get the vaccination,” Flowers said. “I’ve been letting people know that follow the science.”

Shana Norfolk highlighted the importance of the pastor’s message, particularly to a black community that she described as having a history of apprehensions to vaccines.

“I am concerned about that, but we have to keep hammering that vaccinations is our pathway out,” Norfolk said. “I am very concerned for the children and the youth and the young adults because sometimes they think they’re invincible. We want to continue to stress that the only way we’re going to get out of this is the vaccine because we don’t have a cure yet.”

In his Easter message to the nation, President Joe Biden encouraged Americans to get vaccinated.

“Getting vaccinated is a moral obligation, one that saves your life and the lives of others,” he said.

About 4 million vaccines were administered Saturday. That helped bring the total number of vaccinated Americans up to almost 19 percent.

Around 32 percent have received at least one dose.

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