Experts are warning that despite a dip in over COVID-19 cases in the U.S., Americans still face profound risks in relation to the virus.
The new variants of coronavirus have placed the U.S. in the “eye of the hurricane.” Dr. Peter Hotez, the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said that experts are scrambling to find a solution.
“I’ve been on Zoom calls for the last two weeks about how we’re going to manage this,” he told CNN on Sunday. Hotez says that the new variants are “the big wall” getting ready to hit the United States again.
Since new strains of COVID-19 hit the U.K., South Africa, and Brazil, the United States has seen nearly 700 cases of the variants, according to data updated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of these cases are the B.1.1.7 strain, which was first detected in the U.K. However, it has now made its way to at least 33 states.
Experts strongly believe that the B.1.1.7 strain, which is more contagious, will become the country’s dominant strain.
Hotez added, “This could be really, very dire for our country as we head into the spring. Now, we’re in a race. We’re in a race to see how quickly we can vaccinate the American people.”
The United States surpassed 27 million reported infections on Sunday. Luckily, over 31 million U.S. citizens have received at least their first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. More than 9 million have received both doses of the vaccine, according to CDC data.
To expedite the vaccine availability, Johnson & Johnson requested emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration last week.
The Super Bowl arriving in Tampa, Florida, presented another big hurdle for health experts over the weekend. Dr. Melissa Clarke, a member of the District of Columbia’s advisory committee on vaccine distribution, said that the star-studded event and number of people attending the big game festivities with no regard for masks or social distancing was cause for concern.
“I’m extremely concerned,” she said to CNN on Sunday. “Now, we’re facing the issues not just of Super Bowl parties, but the fact that it’s going to be spring soon and spring fever is going to set in, and people that have been caged up in their homes all winter are going to want to get out.” Clarke reminded people of the best practices during the ongoing pandemic, including wearing masks, avoiding crowds altogether, and maintaining social distance.