For the third week in a row, Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations are increasing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is despite a record-breaking 4.6 million vaccine doses administered in one day.
Part of the cause is the U.K. variant of the disease, known as B.1.1.7. “[This] variant has mutations that allow it to bind more,” CNN medical analyst Jonathan Reiner said. “Think of this mutation as making the virus stickier.”
Studies also indicate that this variant is also deadlier, partcularly to young people. “Not only is it more contagious, but when you are infected with it, you’re more likely to get serious disease,” Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt Medical Center told National Geographic. “And so we’re concerned about it.”
Adults aged 29 to 39 have the highest daily case rate in several states, and case rates for children under 19 are quadruple that of a month ago.
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Another reason for the spike in infections among young people could be a simple matter of time: Since the older population was the first to receive the vaccine, more than 78% have received the first dose of the vaccine. It’s also possible the variant is simply hitting young people harder.
As of now, no one is sure whether the vaccine keeps people from spreading the virus. If it turns out that vaccinated individuals do still carry the virus, it’s still worth it to receive the vaccine because it prevents life-threatening symptoms.
Virologist John Moore told the New York Times “vaccinated people should not be throwing away their masks… this pandemic is not over.”
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Though the guidelines have relaxed significantly since the roll out of the Covid-19 vaccines, the CDC still recommends wearing masks when outdoors or when any person present has not been “fully vaccinated.”
An individual is considered fully vaccinated when more than two weeks have passed since the second vaccine shot.
The CDC also recommends that you exercise the same basic pandemic precautions even after you’ve been vaccinated, including:
Wearing a well-fitted mask.
Staying 6 feet from people you do not live with.
Avoid medium or large gatherings.
Get tested after experiencing symptoms.
Follow your employer’s guidance.
Follow CDC and health department travel requirements.