BOSTON (SHNS) – Across the United States, new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on “a consistent downward trajectory” and cases have returned to pre-Thanksgiving and holiday season levels, but mutated variants of the coronavirus and resistance to measures like mask-wearing threaten those trends, the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control said Wednesday.
“COVID-19 cases have declined steadily since hitting a peak on January 8, dropping 13.4 percent to an average of nearly 144,000 cases per day from January 26 to February 1,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. She added, “Similarly, new hospital admissions have continued to decline since they peaked on January 5, decreasing 4.1 percent to an average of approximately 11,400 admissions per day from January 25 to January 31. While deaths have continued to increase, the pace appears to be slowing.”
Massachusetts has seen similarly positive trends over the same period of time. The state’s seven-day average number of daily new cases was 6,237.7 as of Jan. 8 and stood at 2,180.6 as of Feb. 1, a roughly 65 percent decrease. Over the same time period, the seven-day average number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has declined about 24 percent from 2,342.8 as of Jan. 8 to 1,783.8 as of Feb. 1, according to the Department of Public Health.
Walensky said the CDC is keeping a close eye on COVID-19 variants that have popped up around the world and have since been detected in the United States, some of which are thought to be more contagious. She said, “not wearing masks and participating in in-person social gatherings have contributed to the variants’ spread.”
Asked if the federal government might impose new restrictions or make new safety recommendations related to the variant strains, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical advisor, said things like double masking are being studied, but that it is more important to get people to follow the guidelines already in place. “Right now, we don’t have complete full compliance throughout the country of the fundamental public health measures that are necessary to prevent the spread,” he said. “And I believe that if we do, we will be adequately addressing the transmissibility of these particular mutants.”