(FOX 2) – Michigan’s break in coronavirus may be nice now, but experts warn that the state’s lenient precautions and declining urgency could be a bad omen for things to come.
According to Beaumont’s head of research for infectious diseases, the pandemic continues to falter, though it does not feel like it did during previous outbreaks of the virus.
“As much as people want it to be done, it is not – there are more cases. I saw cases today in the hospital – new,” said Dr. Matthew Sims. “I know mask mandates have disappeared etc etc – I do not think it’s the right idea to be honest.”
“When things get better, it’s not the time to take all the protection away,” he said.
Very few of the health restrictions that governed life in 2020 and 2021 will no longer be implemented. While vaccine rates and boosters have helped dull the impact of the pandemic in the United States recently, the low number of cases does not necessarily mean that Americans are safe from further infection.
Some countries like New Zealand are only right now on the way back from an increase in cases that hit the island nation over the winter. In China, another lockdown has been introduced.
“It’s been very difficult to understand exactly what’s going on in China right from the beginning of this – China is a country that you don’t get a lot of good information out of,” Sims said. “There was a lot of debate early on about how bad the pandemic was there. You know what they said versus what we saw.”
But while some countries practice total city closure, others have long since said goodbye to any kind of pandemic-related restriction. Instead, they rely on a combination of immunity from vaccines and post-infection antibodies.
Recently, the FDA approved another booster shot for people over the age of 50 and those who are immunocompromised. This, Sims says, may help a little, but it can also give a false sense of security.
“The problem is with boosting, as you get further and further away from the virus strain that the vaccine is made against, when you only boost so far, you get a declining yield,” he said.
And then others, like in Philadelphia, a mask mandate enters into force again in preparation for several cases already pending prior to the ruling.
Earlier forecasts of what an increase under the latest omicron variant strain would look like have not worried officials too much.
“I think it is possible that we will have an increased number of cases,” said Dr. Dennis Cunningham, Medical Director of Infection Control and Prevention at Henry Ford Health System in late March. “I do not expect this to be like any of the other increases we have been through.”
The latest figures from Michigan regarding COVID-19 report a jump in infections by 36% on Wednesday. Cases increased from 697 daily cases to 950. The largest increase was reported in Washtenaw County. Wayne, Macomb and Oakland also saw increases.
“It’s low right now, that did not mean it would stay low, it was low before,” Sims said.