As of this morning, the United States has administered 68.2 million COVID-19 vaccination shots into the arms and bloodstreams of its citizens — 6.5 percent of Americans have two shots, 14 percent have received one shot. The country is administering an average of 1.3 million doses per day according to Bloomberg, an average of 1.5 million doses per day according to the New York Times. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine today and is expected to approve it, freeing up nearly 4 million doses of one-shot vaccine. Johnson & Johnson says they can produce 20 million doses by the end of March.
While there are still some frustrating and not-easily-explained backlogs in the system, the U.S has made real progress, ranking behind only Israel and a few other countries on the world stage. Vaccinations at long-term care facilities and nursing homes are just about done. In a short time, it will be safe to end the cruel isolation of America’s elderly and for families to gather, free from significant risk.
The numbers are all headed in the right direction. On January 2, the country diagnosed 280,318 new cases of COVID-19, according to the Covid Tracking Project. Thursday, the U.S. had just 75,565. In early January, more than 130,000 Americans were hospitalized with COVID-19. Thursday, the U.S. was down to 52,669. In January, the number of daily new deaths surpassed 4,000 several days. This week, the daily death toll is between 2,000 and 2,500. As more people get vaccinated, those numbers should only get better and better.
The pandemic may not be over, and SARS-CoV-2 is likely to be around for many years, but you can see the end of the crisis portion of the pandemic on the horizon. Spring is arriving, bringing warmer weather, and making it easier for people to spend more time outdoors.
Normal life is coming back, very slowly.
Schools are and should be reopening, at least some days of the week, as more and more teachers get vaccinated. (I saw a school bus taking kindergarteners to school in Fairfax County today, the first time that has occurred in 49 weeks.) Those who are fully vaccinated can gather indoors and not worry about masks.
This late spring and summer, it will be time to go baseball games, concerts, and outdoor festivals. It will be time to get off the couch and get back into movie theaters, restaurants, and bars, and to not worry about how full the place is. People will book flights and hotel rooms, get on planes and cruises, and visit tourist attractions and theme parks again. Religious services will be open to everyone again, with no limits on singing.
You’ll be able to use public transportation with confidence again! Eh, okay, maybe not everything that gets back to normal is so exciting.
No one’s going to have to worry about six feet of social distance at the Fourth of July backyard barbecue. Masks that were absentmindedly stuck in the pocket of winter coats will hibernate with them. Those arrows indicating which direction you’re supposed to go down the aisle at the grocery store will shrivel down to well-trodden residue of masking tape . . . although to be honest, everyone’s been ignoring them for the past six months or so.
The finger-wagging self-appointed mask police are going to wither away like the Wicked Witch of the West when hit by water. That lunatic in the grim reaper outfit down in Florida will be lucky if he keeps his law license.
Can you imagine an America where we all got out of each other’s faces for a while and just enjoyed our lives? That sounds heavenly.