PROVO, Utah – With the possibility of summer barbeques just a few months away, along with the promise of widespread Covid-19 vaccine supply in the U.S. by the end of May, many Americans may be feeling as though the nation has finally turned the corner on the pandemic.
But to leading infectious disease experts, the country isn’t there yet.
“When I’m often asked, ‘Are we turning the corner?’ My response is really more like, ‘We’re at the corner,’” White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said during a press briefing on Wednesday.
Before the U.S. can reach its long awaited destination — some semblance of pre-pandemic normality — it needs to get more vaccines into arms, infectious disease experts tell CNBC. But while the U.S. continues to report fresh daily vaccination records, the number of new cases is simultaneously growing once again.
The U.S. is recording a weekly average of 61,821 new Covid-19 cases per day, a 12% increase compared with a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Daily cases are now growing by at least 5% in 27 states and D.C.
Coronavirus hospitalizations are also beginning to make a rebound. The U.S. reported a seven-day average of 4,790 Covid-19 hospital admissions on Thursday, a 2.6% increase compared with the week prior, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
“We’re in a delicate and tenuous period of transition,” Dr. William Schaffner, an epidemiologist and professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University, told CNBC. “We’re doing well, but we’re not there yet.”
The rise in infections coincides with an accelerated vaccine campaign that’s beginning to reach more people.
The U.S. is now administering an average of 2.6 million shots per day and more than a third of adult Americans have received at least dose, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Nearly half of people ages 65 and older have completed all of their necessary shots, CDC data shows. However, just 19.4% of the adult population is considered fully vaccinated, which is required to achieve the high level of protection provided by the currently deployed vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
While most states have issued plans to open vaccine eligibility to all adults before President Joe Biden’s May 1 deadline, just six have moved to widely offer the shots so far, according to recent data tracked by The New York Times.