New COVID-19 cases in the US have nearly tripled in the last 2 weeks, hitting 37,000 on Tuesday and pushing exhausted health workers to their limits once again, the AP reports.
- Under half of all Americans are fully vaccinated; just 56.2% of Americans have at least 1 dose.
“It is like seeing the car wreck before it happens,” said James Williams, a clinical associate professor at Texas Tech—and this time, the patients are younger and overwhelmingly unvaccinated.
Back to the future: Americans’ refusal to be vaccinated is forcing officials to reexamine the early tools deployed against the virus: masks, closures, restrictions—all equally unpopular options.
“There aren’t a lot of moves left to make, I think, because we’ve moved beyond most non-pharmaceutical measures and I don’t think the political appetite is really there to re-implement them,” Johns Hopkins epidemiologist Caitlin Rivers told STAT’s Helen Branswell.
One option: Convince the vaccinated to embrace masks and other measures again. But “Telling them that Covid off-ramp wasn’t the end of the journey — that might not go down well,” said Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Mandates: The US’s largest hospital association came out in support of vaccine mandates for all health workers in a policy statement shared by The Washington Post.
But forcing compliance has gotten harder, STAT notes:
- North Dakota barred health authorities from requiring masks—for any reason.
- Montana blocked quarantines for people exposed to the virus.
- Wisconsin’s state supreme court overturned a stay-at-home order.