The Latest on the Pandemic: Declining Infection Rates, Vaccine Rollouts, and More

Quenton Xiao

All information below is accurate as of 12 PM Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

As the world moved on to 2021 and the Biden administration took office, the pandemic situation has changed as well, especially in the United States. But how? Here are the recent facts and figures concerning the pandemic in the US, in Massachusetts, and in Worcester County.

Nationwide, total daily new infections have continued to trend downwards for the past 4 weeks, with 59,462 new cases reported on February 22nd and an all-time total of about 28.2 million infections, according to the New York Times. The US has had an average of about 67,000 daily cases in the past week, down from an average of over 250,000 daily cases per week in early January. Additionally, the Biden administration’s vaccine rollout programs have vaccinated about 44.1 million Americans, of which 19.4 million have received two doses. 

However, experts at the CDC warn that new strains of coronavirus from the UK, South Africa, Brazil, and Los Angeles pose new threats. Many health officials warn that the British variant of the coronavirus could become dominant in the US by March, including CDC official Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who stated in a CBS interview that “We now know that…about 4% of the disease in this country is related to B.1.1.7…and we have projections that it may be the dominant strain by the end of March”. The British virus variant, B.1.1.7, is more infectious and deadly than the previous virus strains circulating in the US, and its spread could lead to more infections and deaths. Experts also warn that these new strains may bring serious challenges to nationwide vaccination efforts. 

In Massachusetts, cases have been trending sharply downwards consistently for over a month, with 1,262 new infections reported on February 22nd, and a total of 571,000 people across the state having had Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic. As of mid-January, the new UK variant was detected in Massachusetts for the first time, but due to limited testing capabilities, it is currently unknown how widespread this variant is. According to NBC News, around 300,000 people, or 4% of the state’s population, have been fully vaccinated, and almost 1.2 million have had at least one dose. According to the mass.gov website, people aged 65 and over, as well as those with two or more specific medical conditions, were able to book vaccination appointments starting February 17th.

According to the New York Times, risk of infection in Worcester County remains high, although daily new cases have been steadily declining in the past few weeks. A total of approximately 64,000 people in Worcester County have or have had Covid-19.