“For the first time since the start of the pandemic, Covid cases are on the decline in all 50 states,” White House senior Covid-19 adviser Andy Slavitt said at a press briefing on Tuesday. “We are winning the war against the virus, and we need you to help us finish the job. “
In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday the state’s seven-day positivity rate fell to the lowest level since the start of the pandemic. In California, Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday announced three new deaths from Covid-19, the state’s lowest daily number in the pandemic.
But among the messages of hope, officials offer an important reminder: it is not over yet.
“Cases are decreasing, deaths are decreasing, hospitalizations are decreasing, vaccinations are increasing,” Dr. William Schaffner, professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University, told CNN on Tuesday. “If vaccinations were to increase even faster, you would see these other measures, these Covid measures, decrease even more. “
“There are still a lot of people who have not come forward and have not rolled up their sleeves, we need them to do so,” he added. “Vaccines in the refrigerator cannot prevent disease. “
About 47.7% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 37.5% of the population is fully vaccinated.
‘We must push further’
The pace of vaccinations has slowed significantly from just a few weeks ago and officials say it is crucial to continue to receive more shots in the arms.
People who live in rural areas have an increased risk of hospitalization and death from Covid-19, but vaccination rates in rural areas were lagging behind cities in April, which could hamper the end of pandemic, a new CDC report has warned.
There are several reasons behind this slowdown in demand, including access issues and continued hesitation, experts say.
“We need to continue to make sure immunization coverage is consistent across the country,” CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky said at the White House briefing on Tuesday. “It will require us to meet people where they are, listen to their concerns and help people make informed decisions about immunization. “
Such efforts make a difference, White House Covid-19 Response Team Senior Advisor Dr Marcella Nunez-Smith said during the briefing.
These included targeting resources to the most at risk and hardest hit communities, carrying out federally run vaccination sites and establishing mobile vaccination clinics.
“To make sure that we actually reach all those who are not vaccinated, we will need to continue to remove structural barriers to access. We will need to focus even more on meeting people where they are. And we will continue to provide the public with the answers they need to get vaccinated, ”Nunez-Smith said. “We know we have to push further. “
In the same briefing, Slavitt called on young Americans to get vaccinated, saying it will not only protect their own lives but also those around them and help bring the country back to normal sooner.
“In many ways, your generation has shown us how you make the world better. And getting vaccinated is part of the responsibility of becoming the generation that makes a difference for the better, ”he said.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear made a similar appeal on Tuesday during a visit to a pop-up vaccination clinic at a high school.
“We need every eligible student, as well as the parents and guardians of every eligible student, to understand that these vaccines are safe and will protect our young people from what can be a devastating disease with lifelong consequences,” said Beshear.
Cool splits on the masks
The optimistic trends in the data follow the CDC saying fully vaccinated Americans can – for the most part – ditch their masks.
But the sudden change in leadership has left many Americans confused and some state and local leaders at odds over how best to move forward when much of the country is unvaccinated.
In Maryland, for example, the governor announced the end of a statewide mask mandate last week, but Baltimore city health officials said a local mandate would remain. in place until at least 65% of adults in Baltimore receive at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. .
In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott on Tuesday issued an executive order banning government entities such as cities, counties, school districts, public health authorities and government officials from requiring masks.
But some local leaders disagreed.
Turner called the governor’s order “obvious overstepping” and added that Abbott’s power was “not absolute.”
Some experts have warned that lifting mask warrants now could lead some unvaccinated Americans to lose their masks as well and leave the country relying on some sort of honor system on who is hiding.
“The problem and the problem is that we have no way of knowing who is vaccinated and who is not,” Dr Anthony Fauci said on “Good Morning America” on Tuesday. “And I think that’s where the confusion arises. “
That’s why Fauci said it was “perfectly reasonable and understandable” for some business owners to keep the mask mandates in place.
CNN’s Jen Christensen, Naomi Thomas, Ashley Killough, Raja Razek, Christina Walker and Stella Chan contributed to this report.