According to health experts, the fourth wave has reached its peak in the U.S., especially in the Deep South where hospitals were already stretched to their limits weeks ago. However, many Northern states still struggle with rising cases and the future for winter is less certain.
There are still many unknowns, including how flu season might strainalready depleted hospital personnels and whether people who refuse to be vaccinated will reconsider their decision.
A total of 70 million Americans are still unvaccinated. This is a good source of supply for the highly contagious delta variant.
Mike Osterholm, Director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, warned that "if you are not vaccinated, or have natural infection protection, this virus can find you."
The number of COVID-19-positive patients in hospitals across the country has dropped to 75,000, from 93,000 in September. The number of new cases is on the decline at around 112,000 per day, an average drop of approximately one-third in the last 2 1/2 weeks.
Deaths are also declining. They average about 1,900 per day, compared to more than 2,000 a week ago. However, the U.S. closed Friday at the sad milestone of 700,000.
The summer surge is now less severe due to people vaccinating more and wearing more masks. A decrease in cases could also be due the virus burning through vulnerable people and running out fuel in some areas.
Merck announced Friday that its experimental pill to treat COVID-19 halved hospitalizations and death rates. It will be the first drug to treat COVID-19 and a powerful, yet simple-to-use, weapon in the arsenal against the pandemic if it is approved by regulators.
All coronavirus treatments in the United States are now approved by an IV or injection.
On Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that some might see encouraging trends as an excuse to not get vaccinated.
He said, "It's great news we're beginning to see the curves." "This is no excuse not to get vaccinated."
Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, noticed a rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations around mid-July. By the beginning of August, the facility was full. It stopped elective surgery and brought in military nurses and doctors to care for patients.
The military team will leave the country at the end October, with all cases closed.