As the Delta COVID-19 variant, which is said to be highly transmissible, continues to spread rapidly across the United States and elsewhere around the world, scientists and health experts are warning that indoor mask mandates and other public health measures will likely make a return in the U.S. this fall.
The advice for Americans comes at a time when the U.S. economy is opening up fast and many businesses and offices across the country have more or less done away with COVID-19 protocols of masking, social distancing and restrictions.
According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, the average cases of new infections in the U.S. in the last seven days was the lowest since the beginning of the pandemic last year – with an average of about 15,000 new cases a day.
At the peak of the pandemic, the country saw daily fresh infections of about 251,000 on the average in January, showed data from Johns Hopkins University. The drop in infections has also resulted in a significant drop in hospitalizations and fatalities with an average of about 225 people dying from the disease compared to a peak of about 3,400 deaths a day because of Covid-19 on average in January.
The Delta variant of the coronavirus, first identified in India earlier this year, is already touted to be the dominant variant in the U.S. Scientists and epidemiologists warn that this new, more infectious and potentially more deadly variant is likely to hit those U.S. states that have the lowest vaccinations. However such a surge in Delta cases can be curbed with the states and businesses reintroduce mask rules, cap capacity and reinstate other public health measures that were lifted with reducing case numbers in recent months,
“I could foresee that in certain parts of the country, there could be a reintroduction of indoor mask mandates, distancing and occupancy limits” in the coming months, said Lawrence Gostin, director of the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law.
He forecast potential ‘major outbreaks’ of Covid-19 during this fall in the U.S. – particularly in the American states that have low rates of vaccination.
“We are heading for a very dangerous fall, with large swaths of the country still unvaccinated, a surging delta variant and people taking off their masks,” Gostin added.
According to a recent disclosure by CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, about 1,000 counties in the country have a vaccination rate of less than 30 per cent of the total population. The CDC has warned of some rise in infections caused by the Delta variant in the country.