It’s a “neck and neck” race between the two, one expert says.
“This is crunch time,” Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN on Saturday. “This is going to be our most difficult period right now in terms of seeing who wins out.”
“If we can hang on another month, another six weeks, that’s going to make a huge difference,” Hotez added.
Michigan cases and hospitalizations climbing
Case rates have been increasing for the past month, Khaldun said, and increased 77% since mid-February.
The state’s percent of Covid-19 tests that are positive have also jumped 177% since mid-February, Khaldun said. And hospitalization rates have also been climbing for the past two weeks, Khaldun added.
“It’s immensely concerning,” Dr. Rob Davidson, an emergency room physician in the state, told CNN Saturday. “We know in the past, cases went up, then hospitalizations, then deaths followed.”
Davidson told CNN he’s even more worried now that variants are circulating, and hopes the state can make enough headway to protect residents.
“It remains to be seen,” Davidson said. “We just would rather not wait and find out. We’d rather get people to mask up, keep distancing and get those numbers down.”
‘A growing threat in our country’
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated it will become the dominant variant of the virus in the US by the end of this month or early April.
The B.1.1.7 variant “likely accounts now for about 20 to 30% of the infections in this country and that number is growing,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said during a White House briefing Friday.
The good news: vaccines appear to protect well against the variant, Fauci said, and treatments like monoclonal antibodies also appear to work against it.
“The way we can counter 1.1.7, which is a growing threat in our country, is to do two things: to get as many people vaccinated as quickly and as expeditiously as possible with a vaccine that we know works against this variant. And finally, to implement the public health measures that we talk about all the time,” Fauci said.
“Masking, physical distancing, and avoiding congregate settings, particularly indoors,” he added.
More than 43 million Americans fully vaccinated
In Missouri, Gov. Mike Parson said Friday that while he encouraged everyone to get vaccinated and thinks it’s the right thing to do, he knows there will be a “certain amount of people” who are not going to take the vaccine, “and they have every right to do that.”
“We got to do a better job of making sure everybody understands the importance of the vaccine, and yet maintain the respect of people that don’t want to take a vaccine, and it is going to be a challenge to see how many people we can get done, but we’re going to do everything we can,” the governor said.
A recent CNN poll conducted by SSRS, showed that while 92% of Democrats say they have gotten a dose of the vaccine or plan to get one, that falls to 50% among Republicans. In Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp said earlier this month officials across the state are working with local organizations, like local churches and civic clubs, to tackle vaccine hesitancy — including among White Republicans.
CNN’s Pete Muntean, Carma Hassan, Mirna Alsharif and Alec Snyder contributed to this report.