COVID-19 doesn’t take a holiday.
Labor Day weekend saw more than three times the number of new cases than in 2020 — during a time when many thought the pandemic may be coming to a close, according to new data from John Hopkins University.
As some 18 months of the pandemic come into perspective, health experts are serving up a heavy dose of reality — that the nearly 40 million COVID cases on record in the US represent just about a quarter of the true statistic. The US Centers for Disease Control has estimated that just 1 in every 4.2 COVID-19 infections were actually reported.
That number is steadily gaining, according to John Hopkins researchers, owing to a boost from the 2021 holiday weekend with a new seven-day average of around 137,999 new cases daily — more than three times higher than Labor Day 2020 weekend’s 39,000 tally, CNN reported.
The 300% revelation comes as hospitals across several spiking states struggle to maintain operations amid shortages of beds, medical supplies and personal protective equipment — scenes reminiscent of the pandemic’s height in the spring of 2020.
Currently just 53% of the US, including kids as young as 12 years, are fully vaccinated; just over 62% have had at least one dose, indicating that new COVID-19 vaccine uptake is slowing.
Brown University public health researcher and professor Dr. Megan Ranney told CNN, "Everyone that I’m hospitalizing is not vaccinated. We are, by and large across the country, not needing to hospitalize people that have gotten both doses of the vaccine."
"This is a disease of the unvaccinated right now," she added.
Some of the states with the lowest vaccination rates are consequently also the ones suffering hospital shortages, including Alabama and Mississippi — two states where ICUs are at or above 90% capacity, according to the US Department of Health & Human Services. Georgia, Arkansas, Texas and Florida are similarly hovering at near-max capacity among their ICUs.
Meanwhile, experts wait with bated breath over a vaccine booster rollout, hoping that it comes before those who have already received two doses from Pfizer or Moderna, or one from Johnson & Johnson, will be able to access additional doses before initial benefits run out.
Boosters of the Pfizer vaccine have already been introduced for the immunocompromised as health officials await additional data to support plans for additional doses throughout the general population. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci confirmed their Sept. 20 target for booster rollout, with the hope that Moderna’s data will catch up to Pfizer.
"We were hoping that we would get both the candidates …" Fauci told CBS’s "Face the Nation" on Sunday. "It is conceivable that we will only have one of them out."
"We are doing studies right now which are… mix and match studies," he also said, proposing that vaccinated people could potentially swap providers between Pfizer and Moderna’s mRNA therapies.
This story first appeared in the New York Post
Until that data is available, the CDC is recommending patients stick with their original vaccine providers. Fauci added, "Hopefully, within a reasonable period of time, measured in a couple of weeks, we will have that data."