Vaccines have made it possible to gradually return to normal.
To date, more than 166 million people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
And as of Friday, California, Hawaii, New Mexico and Puerto Rico remain the only states or jurisdictions where mask warrants for everyone are currently in place.
The pandemic has affected everyone differently.
But the reported infections are probably an undercount. The CDC estimates that nearly 1 in 3 Americans have had Covid-19 – with around 115 million total infections estimated through mid-April.
However, the CDC predicted on Thursday that cases, hospitalizations and deaths would decrease over the next four weeks. The forecast from the entire CDC concluded that there would be a total of 596,000 to 606,000 deaths from Covid-19 by June 19.
Covid-19 killed at least 593,364 people and infected more than 33 million people in the United States on Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Most seniors are vaccinated
The improved outlook can be attributed to continued efforts by states to get people vaccinated. Already, 10 states have met the Biden administration’s goal of vaccinating 70% of adults by July 4 with at least one dose.
In addition, nearly three-quarters of older people are now fully immunized, according to CDC data.
President Joe Biden touted the progress on Friday, expressing a sense of hope ahead of the unofficial start of summer.
“We’re not just saving lives, we’re getting our lives back,” Biden said.
Biden said that despite the growing light at the end of the tunnel, he urged those not yet vaccinated against Covid-19 to do so.
“As more and more Americans get vaccinated, the days are getting brighter and brighter, but let me be clear, we’re not done yet. We need to reach those who are not vaccinated and make it as easy as possible for them to protect themselves, ”he said. .
Meanwhile, in Georgia, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order banning schools and school districts from requiring students and workers to wear masks on campus.
The new ordinance, which came into effect on May 31, also eliminates the rules for restaurants, bars, conventions, daycares, performance venues and other organizations. Previous decrees removed regulations for camps and sporting events, according to a press release.
“As hospitalizations, cases, deaths and the percentage of positive tests continue to decline – and with the increase in vaccinations – Georgians deserve to be completely returned to normal,” Kemp said in the statement. “With safe and effective vaccines widely available and the public well informed of all COVID-19 mitigation measures, state and local government mandates are no longer needed. “
Vaccine disparities continue in vulnerable communities across the United States
The slow return to normal is made possible by vaccines and those who choose to take them. But there is a segment of the American population that doesn’t get vaccinated that quickly, and it’s not all by choice.
Socially vulnerable counties in America are experiencing lower vaccination rates, according to CDC data released Friday.
A CNN analysis of federal data found that counties lagging behind the overall Covid-19 vaccination rate tend to be poorer and less educated, with less access to computers and the internet.
This digital and economic divide contributes to disparities in access to health care in general, experts say, and access to Covid-19 vaccines is no exception.
“With too much going on in health, we focus on individual behavior without looking at the systems that either allow someone to practice this healthy behavior or not,” Dr. Richard Besser, President and CEO of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, told CNN.
The CDC used a Social Vulnerability Index, which rates counties based on 15 factors across four categories: socioeconomic status, household composition, race and ethnicity, and type of housing and transportation. . The most vulnerable counties have been disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, but these same communities have also fallen behind in vaccination rates.
“Health behaviors (like getting the Covid-19 vaccine) are, in part, a personal choice,” Besser said. “But one of the things that is often said is that the choices we make depend on the choices we have. For someone who doesn’t have internet access, there isn’t much of a choice to be able to go online and make an appointment. “
Another health crisis?
As the nation nears the possible end of the pandemic, another health crisis looms.
It’s time to tackle the epidemic of loneliness, US surgeon general Vivek Murthy said on Friday.
“At the heart of it all is a bigger and deeper question that we have the opportunity to address right now – which affects our mental health… which is a question of what kind of society do we want. conceive after this pandemic ends? Murthy said at a federal health meeting.
Loneliness can lead to anxiety and depression, as well as trouble sleeping, dementia and a shorter lifespan, Murthy said.
Not to mention the toll that racism and xenophobia can take on mental health, undermining people’s self-esteem and making them “feel like strangers,” he said.
“It contributes to a feeling of isolation,” Murthy noted.
CNN’s Deidre McPhillips, Ryan Prior, Michael Nedelman, Jamiel Lynch, Hannah Sarisohn, Jennifer Henderson, and Rebekah Riess contributed to this report.