(CNN) – The number of new COVID-19 cases has stalled at an “alarmingly high level,” and the United States is at risk of another wave, Dr. Anthony Fauci Wednesday.
While far from the highs of earlier this year, more than 61,000 new cases were still reported Wednesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. And the numbers are alarming, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told CNN’s Anderson Cooper, especially given the spread of variants.
“It is almost a race between the vaccination of humans and this wave that seems to want to increase,” said Fauci, noting that Europe is experiencing a wave very similar to the one that concerns experts in the United States.
The United States is rapidly vaccinating people, with just over 33% of the population (more than 109 million people) receiving at least one dose of the vaccine, and all 50 states have pledged to open vaccination for all adults by April 19.
Those vaccines could be the cause of the drop in deaths from COVID-19, said U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Wednesday.
But the rate at which vaccines reach Americans’ poor will have to continue to accelerate as the variant of the virus was first identified in the UK, which is known to be more transmissible and believed to be more deadly, the strain . in the US, Walensky said.
To combat the variant, Fauci urged Americans to get vaccinated and adhere to preventative measures.
“Wait a minute,” he said. “This is not the time, as I have said so many times, to declare victory prematurely.”
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The number of cases is increasing among the youngest
The daily number of new cases of coronavirus in the country has risen over the past four weeks. Some of that is due to the spread of B.1,1.7 and other worrying variants, Walensky said earlier this week.
The US has recorded an average of more than 64,760 new cases of coronavirus per day in the past week, slightly less than the week before, but still about 21% more than two weeks ago and more than 12% more than ago. Four weeks, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Recent infections have been skewed towards younger people, a factor that, Fauci says, can be attributed in part to the fact that many older people are vaccinated.
Fauci noted that more than 75% of people over 65 in the United States have received at least one injection of the covid-19 vaccine.
He said a number of factors come into play, including clusters of cases in kindergartens and school sports teams, where people are in close contact and sometimes don’t wear masks, and variant B.1,1.7.
“I think that explains this wave of cases in young people,” he said.
As cases gravitate towards younger Americans, many schools are expanding access to full face-to-face learning. About three-quarters of US public schools are open to full-time face-to-face or hybrid learning.
Of the country’s fourth graders, 39% attend school full-time in person and 29% of eighth graders, according to data released Wednesday by the Department of Education’s National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
Those students returning to school are not yet eligible for vaccines, although studies are expected to show the effectiveness of vaccines in children as young as six months old in the coming months, Fauci said.
Until then, students under the age of 16 should continue to wear masks, avoid close contact, and avoid indoor settings, Fauci said.
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Risks and Benefits of Vaccines
As the US rushes to vaccinate people, experts and officials are facing side effects believed to be related to some vaccines.
Surgeries were halted Wednesday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Colorado after health officials reported that 11 people who received their vaccinations became ill.
Those patients experienced symptoms such as nausea and dizziness and were taken to a local hospital for observation as a precaution, according to a news release from the Colorado State Joint Information Center.
While the cases may sound troubling, government officials said they have no reason to believe people vaccinated at the center should be concerned.
“The state has no reason to believe that people vaccinated at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park today should be concerned,” state officials said.
“As far as we know, today’s side effects were in line with what we could expect,” Scott Bookman, Covid-19 incident commander said in the release. “Getting a vaccine is much safer than getting seriously ill with Covid-19.”
Amanda Sealy, Ben Tinker, Lauren Mascarenhas, Betsy Klein, Elizabeth Stuart, Joe Sutton, Richard Greene and Schams Elwazer the CNN are major contributors.