New COVID-19 cases across the United States have tumbled to rates not seen in nearly a year.
As cases, hospitalizations and deaths steadily dropped this week, pre-pandemic life in America has largely resumed.
Unmasked crowds returned to the White House, a Mardi Gras-style parade marched through Alabama’s port city of Mobile, and even states that have stuck to pandemic restrictions prepared to drop them.
As the seven-day average for new cases dropped below 30,000 per day this week, Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pointed out that cases have not been this low since June 18, 2020.
The average number of deaths over the last seven days also dropped to 552 — a rate not seen since July last year.
“As each week passes and as we continue to see progress, these data give me hope,” Walensky said Friday at a news conference.
More than 60 percent of people over 18 have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and almost half are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. But demand for vaccines has dropped across much of the country.
Ohio, New York, Oregon and other states are enticing people to get vaccinated through lottery prizes of up to $5 million.
Across the country, venues and events reopened after shuttering for much of the last year.
On Saturday, Karen Stetz readied to welcome a crowd to the Grosse Pointe Art Fair on Michigan’s Lake St. Clair. The event usually draws 5,000 to 10,000 people.
“I feel like most people are ready to get out,” Stetz said by phone shortly before opening the fair.
In Mobile, thousands of revelers, many without masks, competed for plastic beads and trinkets tossed from floats on Friday night as the city threw a Mardi Gras-style parade. About a quarter of the county’s population is fully vaccinated.
Alabama’s vaccination rate — 34 percent of people have received at least one dose — is one of the lowest in the country.
A medical center in Louisiana reported Friday that it has identified the state’s first two cases of a COVID-19 variant first identified in India. The variant has also been reported in several other states, including Tennessee, Nebraska and Nevada.
Many states have largely dropped orders to wear masks and stay distanced from other people.
Meanwhile, even places such as California — the first state to issue a statewide shutdown as the virus emerged in March 2020 — prepared to remove restrictions on business capacity next month.
State health director Dr. Mark Ghaly said Friday the decision was based on dramatically lower virus cases and increased vaccinations.
In Vermont — the state with the highest percentage of people who have received one shot — Gov. Phil Scott offered to lift all remaining restrictions before a July 4 deadline if 80 percent of those eligible get vaccinated.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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