US projected to see sharp fall in Covid cases by July

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Customers sit at the bar at Wilson Lives! in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., on Monday, May 3, 2021. New York City is moving to fully reopen by July 1 with arenas, gyms, stores, restaurants and hair salons returning, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. Photographer: Nina Westervelt/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Teams of experts are projecting Covid-19′s toll on the United States will fall sharply by the end of July, according to research released by the government Wednesday.

But they also warn that a “substantial increase” in hospitalizations and deaths is possible if unvaccinated people do not follow basic precautions such as wearing a mask and keeping their distance from others.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) paper included projections from six research groups. Their assignment was to predict the course of the U.S. epidemic between now and September under different scenarios, depending on how the vaccination drive proceeds and how people behave.

Mainly, it’s good news. Even under scenarios involving disappointing vaccination rates, Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are expected to drop dramatically by the end of July and continue to fall afterward.

The CDC is now reporting an average of about 350,000 new cases each week, 35,000 hospitalizations and over 4,000 deaths.

Under the most optimistic scenarios considered, by the end of July new weekly national cases could drop below 50,000, hospitalizations to fewer than 1,000, and deaths to between 200 and 300.

“We are not out of the woods yet, but we could be very close,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said, while noting that variants of the coronavirus are a “wild card” that could set back progress.

The projections are probably in line with what many Americans were already expecting for this summer.

With Covid-19 deaths, hospitalizations and cases plummeting since January, many states and cities are already moving to ease or lift restrictions on restaurants, bars, theaters and other businesses, and talking about getting back to something close to normal this summer.

New York’s subways will start running all night again this month, Las Vegas is bustling again after casino capacity limits were raised, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis this week suspended all restrictions put in place by local governments, though businesses may continue requiring people to wear masks and keep their distance, and many are still doing so.

Many people in Florida have resumed parties, graduations and recitals. Walt Disney World lets guests remove their masks for photographs.

“It does feel like life is returning to normal,” said 67-year-old Vicki Restivo of Miami, who after getting vaccinated resumed outings with her friends at restaurants and traveled to Egypt — and felt “very comfortable” about it.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday set a goal of delivering shots to 70 percent of U.S. adults by July Fourth. Such a goal, if met, would fit in with the best-case scenarios, said one of the study’s co-authors, CDC biologist Michael Johansson.

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