Collins’ comments to MSNBC on Saturday come as encouraging signs — falling case counts, rising vaccinations — converge with public health experts’ concerns that more-transmissible variants are gaining ground.
“If there ever was a time to put on the mask, this is it,” Collins told MSNBC’s Ali Velshi.
That variant’s spread comes as states abandon social restrictions, including Maryland, which Friday lifted its capacity limits on businesses, and Oklahoma, whose governor announced this week he was ending restrictions on events.
In Houston, a hospital leader told CNN that he’s worried about how he’s seen people respond.
“If you go outside the clubs, they are packed. I mean, people just congregating, no masks,” Dr. Joseph Varon, chief of staff at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, told CNN Saturday.
“I am sure we are going to have a surge” in cases, Varon said.
Accounting for variant spread in some locations and increasing vaccinations, the IHME projects daily death tallies to drop to 651 a day by May 1.
But if the country approaches pre-pandemic levels of mobility, daily deaths still would be above 1,200 by May 1, the IHME’s model projects.
The country has averaged more than 1,380 Covid-19 deaths a day over the last week, well below a mid-January peak of around 3,400 but still above the highest levels of the summer, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
After a year of Covid-19, it’s unclear when all schools will reopen fully
As of Monday, teachers and educators in all 50 states will be eligible to receive Covid-19 vaccinations. The eligibility comes as the US ramps up vaccination efforts in hopes of curbing the spread of coronavirus variants and setting a course toward some sense of normalcy again.
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona told Tapper that safely reopening the nation’s more than 14,000 public school districts for full, five-day-a-week classes is his top priority — but he can’t say yet when that will happen.
“This is unprecedented, I mean, we are in the middle of a pandemic. I do feel that (schools are) following the science and I do think that this is hard work. There is no playbook for this in any leadership course,” Cardona said.
“It’s a balance to make sure that we’re moving the needle in the right direction to get students in school every day, but we have to do so making sure we’re adhering to those mitigation strategies that have worked to keep our schools safe.”
More than 100 million doses for Covid-19 vaccines have been distributed so far in the US, and President Joe Biden has said that by May 1, all adults in the US will be eligible to be inoculated.
Hopes of having enough vaccine for all US adults by the end of May
The US adult population is approximately 255 million people, according to Census data.
Meanwhile, Michigan residents over 16 will be able to get their vaccines beginning April 5, ahead of the national schedule, state officials announced Friday.
Treatment shows “really dramatic” results to fight Covid-19, Fauci says
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said while monoclonal antibodies are a “very fluid area of research,” many of these treatments show “really dramatic” results that help fight the disease.
Fauci, speaking Friday at the White House Covid-19 Response Team briefing, referenced a number of recent studies that showed how much help these treatments offer patients early in the course of their disease. They are some of the only treatments authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat non-hospitalized Covid-19 patients, and they are still underutilized.
“The reason why I point this out is that, recently, there has been a considerable amount of information regarding some of the monoclonal antibodies that are used in the prevention and treatment of Covid-19,” Fauci said.
Fauci added that the treatments work for now. There is some concern that the variants may make the treatments less effective, but the companies continue to work on several updated cocktail approaches that scientists believe will work against the variants.
CNN’s Ben Tinker, Elizabeth Stuart, Betsy Klein, Rebekah Riess, Melissa Alonso, Jen Christensen, Greg Wallace and Naomi Thomas contributed to this report.
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