Americans are closing out the 14th month of the COVID-19 pandemic with some welcome news: Death rates have been dropping to their lowest rates since October 2020.
CNN, analyzing the seven-day average of new COVID-19 deaths in the United States on April 30, determined that the data from Johns Hopkins University showed that encouraging news. Just 684 new deaths were reported as of April 28, representing an 80% drop compared to January.
Experts attributed continued vaccination efforts as a major contributor to the reduction in COVID-19 deaths—especially with more susceptible older populations getting many of the first vaccines available during 2021’s first quarter.
“If you look, for example at populations that have been highly vaccinated like nursing home residents, you will see that deaths in nursing homes have plummeted, and overall, the death rate has been falling over time,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “It’s really a function of how many of the high-risk individuals have been vaccinated and that is becoming more evident.”
The encouraging effects of vaccination aren’t just limited to the dropping COVID death rate. As the New York Times reported, as of April 28, “The United States was averaging about 52,600 new cases a day, a 26% decline from two weeks ago, and a number comparable to the level of cases reported in mid-October before the deadly winter surge.” Cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have all dropped significantly across the nation since January.
Even with encouraging numbers, there’s still some vaccine hesitancy and even vaccine resistance that might help build obstacles on the way to herd immunity. A recent Quinnipiac University poll found 36% of adults under the age of 35 don’t plan on getting a vaccine, CNN reported. Considering 70-85% of people need to be immune from the COVID vaccine before the country reaches herd immunity, that’s not great news.
The nation is about halfway there, with about 50% of Americans receiving at least one dose of a two-dose vaccine, and close to 30% fully vaccinated.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director, said in an April 28 interview on Good Morning America, relayed via The Hill, that she’s now registering a “feeling of cautious optimism” by the trendlines.
“Cases are starting to come down,” she observed. “We think that this is related to increased vaccination, increased people taking caution, and so I’m cautiously optimistic that we’re turning the corner.”
But she also warned that “the virus is an opportunist,” warning communities with low vaccination rates that they will be “where the virus is going to strike” should those rates remain low.