On February 22, the United States passed a devastating milestone of over 500,000 deaths from COVID-19. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, this means that on average around 2,000 people die from the virus every day. However, positive test rates and other metrics are slowly trending downward.
Although the statistics are still concerning, there are many signs of hope that the pandemic will improve soon. One example is the number of hospitalizations decreasing by 61% between early January and late February, according to the CDC. Here in Michigan, only 4.9% of hospital beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients compared to 72% in December, according to The Detroit News.
Additionally, increases in vaccinations are bound to help. The newest vaccine from Johnson & Johnson requires only one shot and was found to be 85% effective at preventing serious illness from COVID-19. The greater convenience from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is hoped to accelerate vaccinations and lower the number of hospitalizations across the country.
In Michigan, Governor Whitmer’s goal of 50,000 vaccinations a day is still the plan, and so far 1.9 million doses have been given out, according to The Detroit News. 8.7% of Michigan residents are fully vaccinated, and many more have received at least one dose. Starting in March, the state hopes to administer even more vaccinations to more residents, with 4 million doses set to arrive by the end of the month.
Although things are looking better, experts warn that caution must still be advised and that there is still a long road ahead. Newer and more contagious variants continue to spread across the country. Dr. Anthony Fauci expressed this in a COVID-19 response team conference at the White House on Friday, according to ABC News. “We don’t want to be people always looking at the dark side of things, but you want to be realistic,” Fauci said. “So, we have to carefully look at what happens over the next week or so with those numbers, before you start making the understandable need to relax on certain restrictions. So, just watch it closely and be prepared to react according to what actually happens.”
At Hope College, the positive rate on campus of 1.5% is still continuously below the county, state and national averages (4.3%, 3.7% and 4.7% respectively) according to the latest email from Campus Health. This outlook has some Hope students feeling cautiously optimistic about the rest of the semester and the next school year. “Since I’m just a first-year student and this experience is all I know, this upcoming semester and the years after, I’m looking at it with a lot of hope,” freshman Taylor Bambule said. “I just feel like Hope has handled this really well with giving us a bit of freedom to have fun. It still takes a bit of creativity at times, but everything they’ve done makes sense, and I really respect that. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t want next year to be completely normal, but if I’m being honest I just don’t know where we’re at with the progress of things. But I think things are looking up for sure.”