Public Health

CDC predicts an increase in US Covid cases by May due to variant B.1.1.7 before a “strong decline”.

Medical workers take a patient to the emergency room at Maimonides Medical Center in the Brooklyn neighborhood of New York on March 8, 2021.

Michael Nagle | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

Covid-19 cases are likely to pick up again in the US as the highly contagious variant B.1.1.7 makes its way across the country and peaks in May before declining sharply by July. This is based on new data released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The rise in Covid cases is expected as states relax pandemic prevention strategies for businesses, large gatherings and schools, and variant B.1.1.7, first identified in the UK, spreads faster across the country, the CDC said in the Report.

The agency forecast the course of the pandemic based on four different scenarios of vaccination rates and the state reopening. While the number of cases differed in each scenario, the general direction of the outbreak remained largely the same across all four projections, with cases rising in May before falling in July.

While the number of Covid cases is expected to increase this month, national hospitalizations and deaths are likely to remain low, according to the U.S. agency. By July, cases are expected to decline as more Americans get vaccinated against the virus.

A high vaccination rate and adherence to pandemic safety measures “are essential to control COVID-19 and prevent an increase in hospital stays and deaths in the coming months,” the federal health authorities wrote in the report.

During a Covid press conference at the White House late Wednesday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the projections were meant to remind Americans that “we have a way out”.

“While we’re seeing advances in decreased cases, hospitalizations and deaths, variants are a wild card that could reverse the advances we’ve made,” she said. “We are seeing that our current vaccines protect against the pollutants circulating in the country. Put simply, the sooner we vaccinate more and more people, the sooner we will all get back to normal.”

The rate of new infections every day fell below 50,000 per day over the weekend and continues to decline, according to Johns Hopkins University, as the last seven-day average is 48,100 cases per day.

The new dates come just before Memorial Day and the July 4th holidays. President Joe Biden said he hoped that enough Americans would be vaccinated by Independence Day to safely hold small outdoor gatherings.

On Tuesday, Biden announced his government’s latest goals in the fight against the coronavirus: 70% of adults in the US should receive at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, and 160 million adults should be fully vaccinated by July 4.

As of Tuesday, more than 145 million Americans ages 18 and older, or 56.4% of the total adult population, had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to the CDC. According to the CDC, more than 105 million Americans ages 18 and older, or 40.8% of the total adult population, are fully vaccinated.

Over the past few weeks, the pace of people getting their first doses of vaccine has slowed, despite U.S. health officials say they’re working to improve access to the shots and encourage more reluctant Americans to get vaccinated.

The CDC used data from the COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub, which developed six models to assess the potential course of Covid-19 in the US in four scenarios. The researchers took into account vaccination rates and the implementation of measures such as mask-wearing and social distancing.

In addition, the projections were based on data up until the end of March when Covid cases recovered.

– CNBC’s Nate Rattner contributed to this report.

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