With more people becoming eligible for coronavirus vaccines in states across the US, more and more government officials are beginning to relax restrictions like mandatory masking.
However, public health officials caution that vaccinations alone might not be enough to stop the continued spread of coronavirus if other prevention measures are ignored. It is more important now than ever that communities continue to take action to stop the spread. The vaccination rate may not be fast enough to mitigate a dangerous surge in new infections if precautionary measures, like mask wearing and social distancing, are completely abandoned.
What Happens if Infections Continue to Spread?
The United States has begun to relax restrictions in several states, frequently in response to downward trends in new infections. However, it is important to understand that though the US has seen a downward trend, globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that as of March 21, COVID-19 cases have continued to rise for the fourth week in a row. And according to the latest Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data, the average number of new cases in the U.S. was around 58,000 per day, slightly higher than the average from the previous week.
With vaccine campaigns well under way, many people have begun to see the light at the end of the tunnel for this pandemic. Unfortunately, this is prompting many officials to preemptively lift the restrictions that have been slowing the spread of the virus.
Health experts are concerned with the implications of the virus being allowed to spread further. Not only will more people be infected and die, but the virus will continue to mutate and find the most effective methods of infection. With new variants already beginning to spread, more lethal or more infectious strains of the virus could cause more infections.
Get Vaccinated, But Stay Vigilant
The advice of most health experts is to continue to be cautious. Everyone has likely experienced some form of quarantine fatigue at this point and returning to normal is appealing.
However, the reality is that not enough people are vaccinated yet, though the U.S. is on pace to meet President Biden’s stated goal of 200 million vaccine doses administered within his first 100 days in office.
Returning to pre-pandemic behavior before we have reached a high enough vaccination threshold to reach herd immunity could set us back significantly. Get your vaccine as soon as possible, and continue to be cautious when out in public places. Wear a mask and avoid large crowds as much as possible.