New York City raised its COVID-19 alert level to “high” and the White House is warning of another possible surge in virus infections. Public health officials are calling on some areas of the country to consider mask mandates again.
Roughly 33% of Americans, mostly in the Midwest and Northeast, live in areas that are considered “high risk,” based on Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said these areas should consider new indoor mask mandates and other preventive measures for slowing the spread of COVID-19.
“Prior increases of infections, in different waves of infection, have demonstrated that this travels across the country,” Walensky said.
A new fight could play out in Congress over whether or not additional federal funding is needed to combat another wave of COVID-19 infections.
White House COVID-19 Director Ashish Jha said in an interview with The Associated Press that a lack of additional funding could lead to an “unnecessary loss of life” in the fall and winter.
While officials are warning of another virus surge, COVID fatigue is setting in for some Americans who are wary of more mandates and restrictions being put in place. Are Americans still worried about COVID-19?
A study done by FiveThirtyEight in April showed that 30% of Americans believed America should open back up completely and life should return to pre-pandemic normal. An additional 46% of Americans believed the country should move toward opening but some precautions should still be taken, 12% said all precautions should stay in place and just 4% said caution measures should be increased.
Case numbers and hospitalizations are both rising in the United States. The seven-day rolling average for positive cases is 94,199, up from 85,009 one week ago. Hospitalizations are at a seven-day average rate of 3,136, up from 2,569 the prior week, according to CDC data.
None of those numbers, however, come near their levels during the omicron surge in January, when new new hospitalizations peaked at 21,526. At that same time, the seven-day figure for new cases was 808,503, according to CDC data.
COVID-19 deaths continue to drop in the United States. The seven-day average for deaths is currently at 274, down from 307 the week prior and 2,711 from an early February surge, CDC data shows.
Officials are warning Americans not to get complacent, however, saying another winter spike could come if proactive measures are not taken.
Jha told The Associated Press the U.S. was already falling behind other nations in securing supplies of the next generation of COVID-19 vaccines and said that the domestic manufacturing base of at-home tests is already drying up as demand drops off.
He added domestic test manufactures have started shuttering lines and laying off workers, and in the coming weeks will begin to sell off equipment and prepare to exit the business of producing tests entirely unless the U.S. government has money to purchase more tests, like the hundreds of millions it has sent out for free to requesting households this year.