“Michigan is really a witness to what it looks like when the B.1.1.7 variant… spreads to the United States,” Dr. Celine Gounder told CNN on Sunday. “This is causing an increase in the number of cases and more serious illnesses, which means that even the youngest, people in their 30s, 40s and 50s are getting very sick and being hospitalized because of it.
Florida has the most cases of the variant, followed by Michigan, Minnesota and Massachusetts, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Michigan is “on fire”
Michigan’s skyrocketing is a combination of two factors, Gounder says: the spread of variant B.1.1.7 combined with people slacking off on mitigation measures before enough residents are vaccinated.
And while some officials – including Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer – are trying to argue that the federal government is stepping up vaccines in the state, Gounder says it won’t help in this case.
Here’s why: It takes about two weeks after the second doses of Pfizer and Moderna and about two weeks after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine before people are immunized, she said. Meanwhile, Gounder added, “the incubation period, which is the period between when you are exposed and when you are infected with coronavirus, is four to five days.”
“So there is no way that a vaccination surge can help curb this while transmission is happening right now,” she said. “The harsh truth is that the only thing that will limit transmission right now is measures that take effect immediately. For example, masquerading, not eating inside and socializing outside, she added.
Michigan is now reporting thousands of new Covid-19 cases a day, while just weeks ago state data showed the number of cases reported daily was as low as 563 cases. In part of the state, emergency room doctor Dr Rob Davidson told CNN that hospitalizations had “quadrupled in the past two weeks.”
“Hospitals are inundated,” Dr. Jonathan Reiner, professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University, told CNN. “Michigan must shut down. “
But he added that the government should send more vaccines to the state.
“Think of it this way: Every year during fire season, when wildfires get out of hand, we don’t just let states do the best they can. We are sending firefighting forces to those states. Michigan is on fire now. . And we have to put that out, ”he said.
Other heads of state alarmed
But it’s not just Michigan.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said the state was seeing an increase in Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and intensive care admissions and urged residents to get vaccinated to avoid another outbreak.
“It’s a race,” he said. “We are in a race. And it’s a race for life or death. ”
In Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf warned last week that the state was seeing an increase in cases and urged residents to “do their part and practice proven public health practices to protect each other.”
Also last week, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy expressed concern about the still high number of Covid-19 cases in the state and what may be to come.
“That’s why we continue to enforce things like our statewide mask mandate, especially for indoor activities where we know transmission is more likely,” Murphy said. “This is also the reason why we have aggressively increased our eligibility time for vaccines.”
US must address vaccine hesitancy, expert says
Some experts say the United States could beat another potential surge in the coming weeks if Americans hold out a bit longer and continue to practice safety measures as more of the population is vaccinated against the virus. .
So far, about 35.9% of all Americans have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, according to CDC data. And about 21.9% of the population is fully vaccinated.
At the record rate at which the United States is administering vaccines, the country could reach the vaccination numbers needed to control the virus in the coming months, Reiner said.
“The way to do it is to vaccinate like crazy,” he said.
But there are challenges to overcome.
“The remaining 20-30% will be the hardest because a lot of people in this country are still hesitant to get vaccinated. We see it all over the country, ”Reiner said. “We really need to get down to the grassroots level, talk to people about their reluctance and get the shots in the arms. “
“Because if we don’t vaccinate that last 30%, we’re still going to have to live with this virus for a very long time. “
CNN’s Anna Sturla contributed to this report.