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As Variants Have Spread, Progress Against the Virus in U.S. Has Stalled


United States coronavirus cases have increased again after hitting a low point late last month, and some of the states driving the upward trend have also been hit hardest by variants, according to an analysis of data from Helix, a lab testing company.

The country’s vaccine rollout has sped up since the first doses were administered in December, recently reaching a rolling average of more than three million doses per day. And new U.S. cases trended steeply downward in the first quarter of the year, falling by almost 80 percent from mid-January through the end of March.

But during that period, states also rolled back virus control measures, and now mobility data shows a rise in people socializing and traveling. Amid all this, more-contagious variants have been gaining a foothold, and new cases are almost 20 percent higher than they were at the lowest point in March.

“It is a pretty complex situation, because behavior is changing, but you’ve also got this change in the virus itself at the same time,” said Emily Martin, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

Cases are up in states with strong variant presence.

Michigan has seen the sharpest rise in cases in the last few weeks. B.1.1.7 — the more transmissible and more deadly variant of the coronavirus that was first discovered in the United Kingdom — may now make up around 70 percent of all of the state’s new cases, according to the Helix data.

Michigan

Estimated share of cases from B.1.1.7

Feb. 1

Mar. 28

25%

50%

75%

New cases per 100,000

Feb. 1

Mar. 28

Virus cases over all

50

100

Minnesota

Estimated share of cases from B.1.1.7

Feb. 1

Mar. 28

25%

50%

75%

New cases per 100,000

Feb. 1

Mar. 28

50

100

Florida

Estimated share of cases from B.1.1.7

Feb. 1

Mar. 28

25%

50%

75%



Read More:As Variants Have Spread, Progress Against the Virus in U.S. Has Stalled

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