Story at a glance
- Michigan hit its highest number of daily new COVID-19 cases on Saturday for the first time since Dec. 7, 2020.
- Experts are at odds in determining whether the troubling rise in new cases will constitute a fourth wave or not.
- As of April 4, 2021, 32 percent of the U.S. population had received at least one dose of the vaccine.
As new cases of COVID-19 in the Midwest continue to rise, some experts fear that a fourth wave of the coronavirus is imminent.
"Let me say that, at this time, we really are in a Category 5 hurricane status with regard to the rest of the world," Michael Osterholm, University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy director, said Sunday on NBC's “Meet the Press.”
"At this point, we will see in the next two weeks the highest number of cases reported globally since the beginning of the pandemic. In terms of the United States, we're just at the beginning of this surge, we haven't even really begun to see it yet," Osterholm said.
One Midwest state that has recently seen a troubling rise in new infections is Michigan. On Saturday, Michigan recorded 8,413 new COVID-19 cases, its highest new daily infections tally since Dec. 7, 2020. The state has also reported the second-highest number of cases of the United Kingdom variant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, some experts aren’t as keen to label the recent uptick as “a true fourth wave." Citing the number of Americans who have already been vaccinated, as well as those who have already been infected with the virus, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb took to CBS’s “Face the Nation” to cast doubt on worries of a fourth wave.
“I think that there’s enough immunity in the population that you’re not going to see a true fourth wave of infection,” Gottlieb said. “What we’re seeing is pockets of infection around the country, particularly in younger people who haven’t been vaccinated and also in school-age children.”
Similarly, the government’s top infectious diseases expert, Anthony Fauci, has also been hesitant to label the recent surge a fourth wave.
“It’s kind of like a race between the potential for a surge and our ability to vaccinate as many people as we possibly can,” Fauci told NPR’s “Morning Edition.” “And hopefully, if you want to make this a metaphorical race, the vaccine is going to win this one.”
Yet, most experts have found common ground in the belief that the recent surges are most likely a product of new variants of the virus and a lax in public health measures, such as wearing masks and social distancing as more people become vaccinated.
As of April 4, 2021, 32 percent of the U.S. population had received at least one dose of the vaccine, with 18.5 percent of the population having been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
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