President Joe Biden touted the country’s progress in the fight against COVID-19 this week as new cases decline and vaccination rates rise.
But despite the recent progress, health officials are warning that the pandemic is far from over, even with the Delta variant in retreat, saying Americans should brace for another wave this winter.
“It's just a matter of time before we have another surge,” Dr. Murtaza Akhter, University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix Emergency Physician told Yahoo Finance Live in an interview.
“My concern is with the holidays coming up, we know people will congregate. They did last year and they're definitely going to do it again this year," he added.
“Last summer,I thought we would have beaten this by now. It's crazy that it's still here,” Dr. Akhter added. “If you look at the numbers in certain states and nationally, we're better than before but not even quite at the level that we were at before the surge we had in the summer.”
Over the past two weeks, the 7-day average of new daily cases reported has declined by nearly 30% to 86,287, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, the lowest since August 2. And the drop in cases comes as more Americans get vaccinated.
About 217 million people, or 65% of the total U.S. population, have received at least one dose, which is about 12 million more than just one month ago. While it’s a step in the right direction, more needs to be done, experts warn.
In a speech from the White House on Thursday, Biden urged unvaccinated Americans to get the shot, calling the number that remain unvaccinated "unacceptably high," while encouraging businesses to implement vaccine mandates.
“We have critical work to do and we can’t let up now... I’m calling on more business to step up. I’m calling on more parents to get their children vaccinated when they are eligible,” the president added.
As the U.S. heads into the holiday season, hospitalization rates and deaths remain elevated. Nearly 2,000 Americans are dying each day from the virus as hospitalizations in some northern states continue to trend upward.
Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) removed a page on its website with guidelines on holiday gatherings, which included an image of a virtual Thanksgiving. The agency says it is working on an update and that new guidelines will be coming "soon."