DETROIT – Medical experts are keeping a close eye on the Midwest and Northeast as new cases of COVID-19 surge.
They’re concerned the surge won’t stay in impacted areas.
“The situation in Michigan should be a warning to other states because Michigan’s not unique,” said University of Michigan chief health officer Dr. Preeti Malini. “It may simply be that we’re ahead of the curve, but with COVID, it’s never just one thing.”
The White House Coronavirus Task Force said Friday morning that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been working closely with health officials in the Midwest to understand why COVID cases have spiked.
“The CDC is working closely with public health officials in this region to understand what is driving these cases and how we can intervene,” said CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. “In Michigan and Minnesota, there are increasing number of cases linked to the U.K. Variant.”
“We felt very strong that we had this disease under attack but then we get thrown a curveball,” said Beaumonth Health COVID Unit medical director Dr. Lynda Misra.
The curveball is the COVID U.K. variant B117. Medical experts believe it’s a big part of why multiple states have been seeing a rise in coronavirus cases in the Midwest and Northeast.
Michigan, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey account for more than 40% of all new cases this past week. Additionally, the face of coronavirus cases is much younger.
“Hospitals are seeing more and more younger adults, those in their 30s and 40s,” Walensky said.
Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean at Brown University School of Public Health, said the states that are seeing surges should receive more vaccines.
“We’ve got to be able to do this when there are surges to try to help states out,” Jha said.
Other experts worry it wont’ be enough.
“We just aren’t going to be able to get enough people vaccinated quickly enough to keep the rest of the country from experiencing much of what we’re seeing in the upper Midwest and Northeast,” said Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
Which means getting coronavirus cases to come down comes down to us.
“Other states that have had a positive or a downward trend, they should look at what’s happening in those states where we’re seeing rises and we can control this,” said Dr. Chris Pernell, Chief Strategic Integration and Health Equity Officer at University Hospital.
Health experts believe the falling case numbers in the South might be giving a false sense of security.
“We worry about if there’s a perfect storm brewing,” said Dr. Neil Gandhi, Regional Medical Director at Houston Methodist Hospital. “If we remember, this virus always takes 10 to 14 to 21 days to develop, and you might just be seeing the early effects of that right now.”
While more Americans are getting vaccinated every day, health experts are reminding residents that vaccinations alone are not enough to prevent another wave.
“Let’s do the right thing. Let’s not get ourselves in a position where every state ends up looking like Michigan and we are back in mass lockdown because we’re seeing kids and young adults getting hospitalized and potentially dying,” said epidemiologist and former Detroit Health Commissioner Dr. Abdul El-Sayed. “We don’t want to get there. We don’t have to get there and if we can hold on just a bit longer, perhaps we can get to a point where we can do that kind of thing safely. Soon, it’s coming.”
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