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As cases decline slowly, new concerns about the next wave of coronavirus

Federal officials expressed concern that because a variant from the UK is on the rise, the decline in new coronavirus cases across the country is beginning to flatten out.

They warned states not to relax restrictions on COVID-19, saying that the country is still in a state of instability and it is possible that a fourth surge will erupt before more people are vaccinated.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Biden’s pandemic, told reporters at a briefing on Friday: “We are in a very precarious position. We were there just before the downturn surged – any disruptions. Our situation may cause us to surge again.”

;. “We don’t want people to always look at the dark side of things, but you have to be realistic. Therefore, before you start to relax some restrictions, we must take a closer look at what happens in the next week or so before we can understand the need.

Andy Slavitt, a senior adviser to the White House COVID-19 Response Team, said: “We can’t express it in stronger terms: We think it’s wrong to get out of trouble prematurely, especially when we accelerate the pace. Vaccination should be carried out immediately.”

Since the beginning of January, new coronavirus cases and COVID-19 hospitalizations have fallen every day, but “the latest data shows that these downward trends may be stagnating and may continue to remain high,” the center’s director Rochelle Walensky Said the doctor. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Our CDC thinks this is a very worrying trajectory change.”

The worrying numbers came a few days ago when the US Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for the third COVID-19 vaccine produced by Johnson & Johnson on Saturday.

Valensky said on Friday that in the past week, the United States had an average of 66,350 new cases of coronavirus every day. This figure is higher than the figure announced on Wednesday, which is 64,000 new cases per day.

The average number of COVID-19 deaths per day (approximately 2,000 per day) has increased slightly from a few days ago.

“We are paying close attention to these relevant data to see where they are going in the next few days. But it is important to remember where we are in the pandemic: things are fragile. Now is not the time to relax restrictions. “Valensky said. “The number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths is still high, and the recent shift to the pandemic must be paid special attention.”

At the same time as the recent increase in cases, federal officials have sounded the alarm about the continued increase in variants across the country. Varensky said that the increase in the number of cases may be due to the increased spread of the variant B.1.1.7 first discovered in the UK, which is believed to have a 50% higher transmission rate than conventional strains.

Valensky said the British variant now accounts for about 10% of the country’s coronavirus cases, up from 1% a few weeks ago to 4%. Valensky also expressed concern about the emerging variants such as B.1.526 in New York State and B.1.427/B.1.429 in California, “They also seem to be more easily spread, and they have caused a large proportion of them in these areas. The current infection has increased the urgency of the situation.”

“The virus is not what we do. We cannot feel comfortable, nor can we mistakenly think that the worst epidemic is over. Not now, not when the mass vaccination is very close,” Walensky said. “I know people are tired. They want to return to normal lives, but we have not been there yet. Give us time. We need to bring more vaccines into our communities and get more people vaccinated.”

Varensky and other federal officials have repeatedly warned state and local governments not to relax COVID-19 restrictions too soon. Valensky has previously stated that it is too early for states such as Iowa and Montana to cancel statewide orders for masks. New York City began to allow indoor restaurants to eat at 25% of the capacity on February 12, and Massachusetts will remove the capacity restrictions on restaurants on Monday and allow indoor concert halls and theaters to reopen at 50% of the capacity, with no more than 500 insiders. people.

Valensky said: “Given the trend of the last few days, I can’t say that we can’t be in a position to lift the restrictions now.”

In California, there are five counties (San Mateo and Marin counties in the Bay Area); Yolo County west of Sacramento; and Shasta and Humboldt counties in the northern region -State officials allowed them to reopen indoor restaurants and indoor stadiums this week to limit their capacity. Seven counties will be eligible to do so next week: Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, El Dorado, Napa, Larsen and Modock.

One of the variants that scientists are most concerned about is the B.1.351 strain, which was first discovered in South Africa. Its vaccination effect was significantly reduced, but it did not disappear. Fauci said the pharmaceutical company Moderna started a clinical trial this week to test a booster injection designed specifically for the South African variant.

Fauci said that another way to deal with other versions (such as the New York and California variants) might be to simply give the existing vaccine a second booster injection, which will generate a stronger immune response and thus help deal with the production of variants. The problem.

Fauci said the rise of variants is the reason for being more qualified to receive currently available vaccines as soon as they qualify. Even in the more interesting variants, the vaccine still provides good protection.

“Vaccination. You can use the vaccine, please buy the vaccine. It is very important to vaccinate as many people as possible as soon as possible,” Fauci said.

The chief scientific officer of the Department of Public Health, Dr. Paul Simon, said officials in Los Angeles County have begun to notice that the rate of decline in daily coronavirus cases has slowed.

In the past 7 days, Los Angeles County averaged about 1,871 coronavirus cases per day, a 16% drop from the comparable number of 2,236 cases per day a week ago. According to the analysis of The Times, this decline was smaller than the decline in the previous week, and the average daily decline in the previous week was 35%.

Simon said that there are still between 1,500 and 2,000 new coronavirus cases every day “indicating that the level of continued transmission of the virus in the community is quite high.”

On Monday, Los Angeles County will open vaccinations for unqualified education and childcare personnel, food and agricultural workers, and law enforcement and other emergency services personnel. Together, these groups have more than 1 million adults in Los Angeles County.

The county expects to distribute 269,000 doses of vaccine at the vaccination sites in Los Angeles County next week, which is higher than the 211,000 doses distributed this week. Of the 269,000 doses, 103,000 will be reserved for the first dose.

Simon said: “Therefore, unless the supply of vaccines is greatly increased, it will take a lot of time to vaccinate these people.” “As we complete this process as soon as possible, we urge the public to be patient.”

Officials said people looking for vaccines in these departments will need to provide proof of living or working in Los Angeles County, as well as proof of working in a qualified department, and photo ID-no government issuance is required.

Los Angeles County officials revealed a new map on Friday that shows the difference between urban and community vaccination rates for people 65 and older. Older people living in southern Los Angeles, Southeast Los Angeles County, and Antelope Valley have the lowest vaccination rates, while the wealthiest areas have the highest vaccination rates.

Simon said, for example, as of February 20, more than 70% of older people in Beverly Hills, Manhattan Beach, and Calabasas received at least one dose of the vaccine, while Compton, Kudahy, and Lankai Less than 35% of the elderly in Wester and Palmdale received the vaccination. Have been vaccinated.

This graph shows the immunization rates for senior citizens in various cities and communities in Los Angeles County

Southern Los Angeles and Antelope Valley have the lowest vaccination rates for seniors, while the wealthiest areas in Los Angeles County have the highest vaccination rates.

(Los Angeles County Department of Public Health)

Simon said: “We are taking many measures to increase the access to vaccination services for the elderly and others in poorly served communities.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom said at a press conference in Fresno last Friday that California has injected 8.2 million doses of vaccine, and the state has injected an average of about 1.4 million doses of vaccine every week. Soon, the goal will be to administer 2.7 million doses per week and eventually 4 million doses per week.

This week, California received 1.46 million doses; Newsom said that 1.58 million doses are expected next week and 1.63 million doses the following week. The governor expressed optimism about the prospects for the next few weeks, considering how dire the situation was when California ordered thousands of carry-on bags two months ago. He also thanked Californians for complying with the rules of wearing masks, distancing themselves and canceling social gatherings.

On Friday, Newsom tried to focus more on the state’s efforts to increase vaccination in the Central Valley, including sending an additional 34,000 doses to vaccinate food and agricultural workers. The pandemic has dealt a heavy blow to low-income workers in the central valley.

“Every day, we do better on fairness issues-slightly better, and realize that we still have a long way to go. To really pursue higher levels of performance requires more work, especially for us Our Latin American community and our African American community,” Newsom said.

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