The dreaded “U.K. variant” is the most prevalent form of the coronavirus in the U.S. and likely fueling the spread around day care centers and youth sports, while resulting in more hospital stays among adults in their 30s and 40s, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.
“The B.1.1.7 variant is now the most common lineage circulating in the United States,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said, using the formal label. “Testing remains an important strategy to rapidly identify and isolate infectious individuals, including those with variants of concern.”
“These trends are pointing to two clear truths: One, the virus still has hold on us, infecting people and putting them in harm’s way, and we need to remain vigilant. And two, we need to continue to accelerate our vaccination efforts and take the individual responsibility to get vaccinated when we can,” she said.
A majority of seniors are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and three-quarters have received at least one dose.
Officials say younger people are fueling the spread as cases remain pinned above 60,000 per day.
Deaths are down to around 750 per day — young people tend to have better outcomes — though officials remain worried about reports of severe disease in younger adults and don’t want to squander recent gains.
Dr. Walensky said as they ramp up testing around young activities, states should be cautious in reopening their societies generally.
“I’m really encouraged by these decreased numbers of deaths that I believe to be an impact of vaccination, especially vaccination of our elderly communities, but I think we’re way too high to be thinking that we’ve won this race,” she said.
President Biden on Tuesday said all states must offer the vaccine to all adults by April 19 instead of working methodically through priority groups. Many states were already doing that, as supply improves and the U.S. averaging 3 million cases per day.
The steady rollout of vaccines has many Americans wondering when normalcy will arrive, or what it might look like.
Officials declined to name a specific metric or number of cases but said normal life it will return, step by step, once there is a clear “domino effect” of better outcomes and reduced transmission among a spectrum of ages, as vaccines reach a greater proportion of the U.S.
“We’ll know it when we see it. It will be obvious as the numbers come down more dramatically,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “It’s on the way, hang in there.”