WASHINGTON — Friday marks the two-year anniversary of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States. In some respects, we have come a long way in the past two years. In others, we have a long way to go.
The good: More than 80% of Americans age 5 and up have gotten at least one dose of a vaccine, but the numbers drop after that. A little more than 67% of people 5 and up are fully vaccinated, and just over 42% of those 18 and older have received a booster dose.
The drop off in those numbers has likely contributed to the recent surge in cases and, more importantly, hospitalizations and deaths.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, more than a quarter of the total COVID-19 cases in the United States have been reported in just the past month, during the omicron surge.
That's not good.
We have seen encouraging developments under the Biden administration, including improved access to at-home testing kits for the public. But the president was also dealt a setback when the Supreme Court blocked his vaccine-or-test requirements for large private companies.
In Virginia, new governor Glenn Youngkin has been talking out of both sides of his mouth when it comes to the pandemic. On the one hand, he's encouraged Virginians to get vaccinated, and that's good. But he's also ended the statewide mask mandate in schools, which is concerning when we know that masks can help keep people safe.
There's still a lot of uncertainty about where we're headed when it comes to the pandemic.
Fortunately, we're starting to see a decline in new cases after this latest surge, and that's a very good sign. And we know, despite what conspiracy theorists claim, the vaccines are safe and effective in preventing serious illness or death.
Let's hope we can soon turn the corner and get back to a sense of pre-pandemic normalcy.