For nearly a year, the COVID-19 pandemic has shaped the way America has lived, worked and played. During this tenuous journey, the country has lost more than 400,000 lives and seen many more hospitalized. As the calendar inches closer to the spring, researchers believe that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic may have passed.
"Yes, we have peaked in terms of cases," Ali Mokdad of the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation said.
"We are coming down, slowly. This is very good news — very good news."
The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations reportedly peaked at 132,000 patients on January 6. More recently, single-day COVID-19 hospitalizations dropped to 122,700 as of January 20. Deaths related to COVID-19 could soon decline as well, but the country is not completely of the woods yet. Incoming CDC Director Rochelle Walensky believes that deaths won't decline until later in the winter.
“By the middle of February we expect half a million deaths in this country,” she said.
Furthermore, distributing vaccines remains an issue. As of mid-January, less than half of the COVID-19 vaccines that were distributed had been administered. President Joe Biden issued ten executive orders pertaining to the pandemic on January 21 and he plans to distribute 100 million vaccines by the end of April, but it could take a few weeks to see the effects of his plans.
"For almost a year now, Americans could not look to the federal government for any strategy, let alone a comprehensive approach to respond to COVID. And we've seen the tragic costs of that failure. As President Biden steps into office today that, that'll change tomorrow," White House Covid coordinator Jeff Zients said.
If the Biden administration can efficiently distribute vaccines while healthcare workers valiantly fight against the virus, there is hope that American society can slowly begin the process of returning to normal in the late summer months.
"Based on current trends, the worst appears to be over," Caitlin Rivers of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said.
"We are headed to a better place."
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