Health officials warn that a fourth COVID-19 surge may be underway


(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — As states relax COVID-19 health and safety measures, like mask mandates, in tandem with a slowly rising number of Americans who are fully vaccinated against the infectious virus — health officials expressed caution that the nation is still at risk for another COVID-19 surge if America lets its guard down too soon.

Current data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that roughly 70 percent of Americans over the age of 65 have obtained at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine — roughly 28 percent of the nation’s population — which could play a role in how hard a potential fourth surge may impact the nation.

CDC data adds that 15 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated.

Dr. John Brownstein, chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital, says its possible another surge may result in fewer hospitalizations and deaths because of the vaccine rollout.

“With rapid dissemination of the vaccines, increases in cases among healthy populations will not necessarily translate to hospitalizations and deaths as previously seen during the pandemic,” he said.

Despite that, health officials express concern over a forth surge, regardless of vaccination rates.

Speaking Saturday to ABC News, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said he is “quite concerned” that the nation may see an uptick in daily cases.

The nation is already experiencing a rise in new daily COVID-19 cases, with 60,000 new diagnosed cases a day — a 12.5 percent rise.  This marks the first time in two month that new cases have risen, not fallen.

22 states have already seen at least a 10 percent rise in their seven-day case average — on top of that,  the Department of Health and Human Services also reports that hospitalizations have stopped falling, but have plateaued at 33,000.

Prior to that, hospitalizations plummeted by 70 percent since January.

Health officials are determining what caused daily cases and hospitalizations to stop falling — citing relaxed COVID-19 measures, an increase in air travel and the emergence of new COVID-19 strains that are more infectious as potential contributors of the new trend.

And, while health officials say a fourth wave is likely, it might not be as widespread or fatal as the prior three surges due to the number of vaccinated Americans. 

COVID-19 has infected more than 30.2 million Americans and killed nearly 550,000 lives in the country, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.