'Race Against The Vaccine' As Some States See Uptick in Covid-19 Cases

From NBC News

Covid-19 rates are trending in the wrong direction in several states, including Michigan, which is reporting an uptick in new infections over the last month as other states see new cases plateau, prompting warnings about a possible surge.

Health experts say it’s too soon to celebrate victory over the coronavirus pandemic despite an increase in vaccine access and re-openings across the country.

“There are some states that are pulling back now, I believe more prematurely than they should, on public health measures,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said on NBC's “TODAY” show. “The very sharp decline that we had, which was really good news, has now over the last few weeks plateaued at around .... 55,000 new cases per day.”

Fauci said “that’s much too high to be declaring victory.”

States where new cases have plateaued, or stopped declining, include Colorado and Massachusetts.

On Friday, Michigan public health officials added 3,730 new confirmed cases and 15 deaths, bringing the state's total to 622,151 known infections and 15,850 deaths. The number of new cases marks the largest daily increase for the state since January, when nearly every state saw record hospitalizations and deaths from the virus.

Across the country, more than 29 million people have been infected with Covid-19 and at least 541,000 have died, according to NBC News counts.

Friday’s announcement came as the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services expanded capacity at outdoor stadiums and arenas, allowing up to 20 percent capacity at venues with established safety protocols. Michigan also increased weekly testing for youth athletes between the ages of 13 and 19 to safely participate in sports.

"The pandemic has been hard on all of us, but by staying focused on acting quickly, following the science, and listening to experts, we can save lives and help our economy recover faster," Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement. "Today's action is an important step towards normalcy, but there's still more work to do.”

Over the past four weeks, confirmed Covid-19 cases have trended upward for much of the state. According to hospitalization data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 74 percent of Michigan's in-patient beds are currently in use, and 72 percent of the beds in intensive care units are filled.

The percentage of positive tests has also increased over the last four weeks and is now at 6.2 percent, public health officials said during a Friday news briefing.

“We are back to where we were,” said Dr. Teena Chopra, an infectious disease expert and Wayne State University professor. “This is our third surge. It is a cause for concern for all those places where people have let down their guard.”