WEDNESDAY, May 5, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- The United States could see a sharp decline in COVID-19 cases by the end of July, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Six research teams asked to project future COVID-19 trends have concluded that new infections will drastically drop in July and continue to fall through September, the researchers reported May 5 in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
However, "substantial increases" in hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 are expected to occur if people stop taking basic pandemic precautions, such as wearing masks and maintaining social distance from others.
The CDC asked the research teams to estimate future COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths based on four scenarios, including high or low vaccination rates, and high or low adherence to mask wearing, social distancing and other infection control measures.
COVID-19 cases are projected to increase through May, the teams found. That's due to the increased prevalence of the British B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant, as well as the relaxation of pandemic restrictions across the nation.
But a sharp decline in COVID-19 cases is expected to occur in July, despite vaccination rates or personal adherence to infection control measures, the teams reported. The decline will be faster in scenarios featuring high vaccination rates.
"We are not out of the woods yet, but we could be very close," CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told the Associated Press, noting that variants of the coronavirus are a "wild card" that could set back progress.
A peak of 7,000 to 11,100 weekly deaths nationwide is projected for May. However, the researchers warned that a slip in vigilance could cause hospitals to fill with the sick and dying throughout the summer months.
"Even moderate reductions in [infection control] adherence were shown to undermine vaccination-related gains during the subsequent 2 to 3 months," the report states. "Decreased [infection control] adherence, in combination with increased transmissibility of some new variants, was projected to lead to surges in hospitalizations and deaths."
The researchers added that "multiple jurisdictions have seen a resurgence of COVID-19 cases and others likely will if [infection control] adherence declines too rapidly."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about COVID-19.
SOURCES: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, May 5, 2021, online; Associated Press