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The numbers, assumptions underlying the thinking behind the CDC COVID announcement

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(© M.Rode-Foto –

The CDC has to be assuming that the U.S. is at COVID-19 herd immunity. Otherwise, the announcement last week that folks who are fully vaccinated can forego masks and social distancing makes no sense.

Yes, yes, I’ve read and heard the comments from Dr. Fauci and the various and sundry other official types who say what they’re hoping to do is encourage those who haven’t gotten one or both COVID-19 vaccine shots to do so by giving them this carrot.

But, come on, realistically?

I mean, we all see it already.

The VDH COVID-19 vaccine dashboard has 48.3 percent of Virginians having received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 37.8 percent fully vaccinated.

The CDC pegs the numbers nationwide at 47.3 percent and 37.0 percent, respectively, and then breaks it down to adults-only at 59.7 percent with at least one vaccination shot.

Any of you reading this who has been out in public the past couple of days can confirm that the number of people still wearing masks is nowhere near 40 or 50 percent.

Which, I mean, fine, when you look at the case and hospitalization numbers. The CDC has the number of daily cases down 87.6 percent from their early January high, and hospitalizations are down 77.4 percent from their January peak.

We’re seeing similar numbers in Virginia. There were 272 new COVID-19 cases reported today, down 97.2 percent from the Jan. 17 peak, and hospitalizations are down 83.7 percent from that Jan. 17 date.

And that’s with vaccinations just under 50 percent of the population, and 60 percent of the adult population.

The demand for vaccines has gone down precipitously in recent weeks. VDH reported a high of 112,211 administered in the Commonwealth back on March 31, but the seven-day average of new doses being administered as of May 13 was 41,951, a drop of 62.6 percent in six weeks.

Nationally, the CDC is reporting a similar trend – the high-water mark was new dose administration was back on April 1, with 4.29 million; the most recent fully day of reporting is May 13, last Thursday, with 1.73 million new doses administered, a drop of 59.7 percent from the peak.

What I assume we saw factored into last week’s CDC announcement was a realization that we’re on the downward slope in terms of the folks who haven’t been vaccinated and yet still want to be, on the downward slope in terms of the impact that additional vaccinations can have on case and hospitalization numbers, and where we are now is about as good as we’re going to be.

Speaking here as a liberal from a family of Fox News-watching conservatives, I can tell you that there’s nothing in terms of messaging or incentives that will get the folks who have avoided the vaccines to change their minds on that.

It’s to the point that there was even a thought from one of the anti-vaxxers that my recent issue with a blood clot from a couple of months ago might have had to do with the vaccines, which would be a nice story if I’d actually gotten vaccinated ahead of the blood clot scare.

It may be the case that people who had been on the fence and who aren’t of a QAnon mindset will take in the new CDC guidelines regarding masks and social distancing and decide to get vaccinated so that they can go maskless this summer.

There’s no way anybody in the CDC or more generally in public health actually believes what some are saying with respect to expecting to see a new surge in demand for the COVID vaccines, though.

I want to assume that some smart folks there in the CDC and more broadly in the Biden administration crunched all kinds of numbers and came to the conclusion that the current level of vaccination is enough to declare the pandemic to be over.

Otherwise …

Story by Chris Graham

Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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