At a global level, around half a million new cases of COVID-19 are reported every day. That number is also falling, mainly because it doesn’t balance the top numbers from the US (300,000 cases per day in the first week of January) and the recent surge in India (400,000 cases per day in the first week of May). . But there are some very frightening trends out there.
Cases in Brazil are actually back near their all-time highs, closing at 100,000 cases per day (although it’s likely that Brazil actually saw twice as many numbers earlier this year but simply had inadequate testing). Several South and Central American countries – such as Argentina, Colombia, and Costa Rica – are at or near all-time highs. Meanwhile, in Asia, countries like Thailand, which appeared to have weathered the pandemic as case management models, are seeing new waves.
COVID-19 is still at levels out there that make it a tremendous ongoing threat, the World Health Organization (WHO) is nowhere near declaring the pandemic over and as much as everyone enjoyed Memorial Day- Treating weekend like Memorial Day weekend, the truth is we still have to be extremely careful because while things look like March 2020 right now, in two weeks it could very easily look like April 2020. Or even worse.
That’s because vaccination rates in the United States were barely 50% of the total population. That number turns out to be enough to bring down the number of COVID-19 cases in the face of a growing number of states that have essentially stopped all efforts to fight the disease, but that by no means means we’re safe. There are tens of millions of Americans – adults and children – who remain unvaccinated. For these people, the pandemic is picking up speed.
Because of this, President Joe Biden has announced the goal of vaccinating 70% of the population by July 4th. The plan to achieve this includes a series of actions aimed at making vaccine availability ubiquitous, targeting rural communities. Biden also supports programs – whether baseball tickets or free beer – that encourage more people to show up and get a trick.
However, unlike the previous vaccination goals that Biden set and then surpassed, this hurdle will be difficult to overcome. To see why, look no further than the major hospital director of corporate risk featured in this USA Today article (which unfortunately requires a subscription).
The director – Bob Neavens, formerly of the Houston Methodist Medical Center and soon to be a Conservative hero – was fired when he was one of two senior executives who refused to take a vaccine after the hospital made it mandatory. In defending himself, Neavens reiterates the right-wing argument of forcing people to take an “experimental vaccine.” That’s almost to be expected considering how many times Tucker Carlson et. al. have delivered this point through Fox News Injection.
However, Neavens also hits another point that is insane for both its familiarity and internal contradictions. According to Neavens, he doesn’t need the vaccine because he contracted COVID-19 while hiking in Hawaii. In 2019. He’s certainly not the only one claiming he had the disease months before it reached the United States. But his persistent belief that he knows more than the WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put together is because he took an antibody test that came back negative. Still, says Neavens, “nobody can tell me what I had was the flu.”
To go over it again, this man worked as a risk manager in a hospital and is so fixated on a myth he created for himself that he refused to believe not just any major health organization but a test on his own Blood. And even though this test doesn’t show any antibodies, he’s still convinced he doesn’t need a vaccine because it’s somehow protected against COVID-19.
This is what Biden is struggling with. Times 150 million.
As the Washington Post made graphically clear last week, there is still an “invisible risk” for the unvaccinated. While the overall rate of COVID-19 cases has fallen dramatically, the remaining cases occur almost entirely in a specific segment of the population – the part that has refused to be vaccinated. With this in mind, there are areas where the rate of cases and deaths is higher than ever. Only the way the disease rages on is masked by the fact that the 169 million Americans who haven’t received at least one dose of the vaccine aren’t getting it.
How bad is it?
… Adjustments for vaccination show the rate in susceptible, unvaccinated individuals is 73 percent higher than the published standard numbers. With this adjustment, the national death rate is about the same as it was two months ago and is barely declining. The adjusted hospitalization rate is as high as it was three months ago.
COVID-19 is still raging. It only rages in the unvaccinated. This may seem like karma, but it is definitely a threat to those who cannot be vaccinated for legitimate reasons, including children under the age of 12. And it poses an embedded threat to everything from the economy to healthcare to national infrastructure that will not be eliminated … unless President Biden can once again overstep a very difficult goal.