Mid-South health expert shares concerns as COVID-19 cases plateau

Published: Nov. 11, 2021 at 9:54 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A new poll suggests many Americans are not as worried about COVID-19 as when the Delta variant was surging in August.

According to the Axios-Ipsos Poll, 55 percent of people now believe returning to pre-pandemic life poses little or no risk to their health.

In late August, only 40 percent of people who were asked felt that way.

COVID-19 cases have been on a downward trajectory in Shelby County since mid-September. The seven-day average is about 80 cases per day.

“So, we are right at an equilibrium where the number of cases has plateaued. We’re not going up and we’re not going down. That equilibrium can very easily be disrupted,” said infectious disease expert, Dr. Manoj Jain, who says if there’s anything he’s learned about this virus is to expect the unexpected.

The area could experience a potential new variant to drive up cases or a sudden wave as we head into the holiday season with people gathering again maskless in indoor spaces.

“Yes, I am concerned there could be an uptick in cases,” said Jain.

Tennessee, along with several other southern states who saw surges in COVID cases in the summer, are now seeing significant improvement.

However, locations in the North and West are experiencing an uptick. New Mexico is reportedly running out of ICU beds despite high vaccination rates.

“Also, over time the immunity wanes, especially if you have not been vaccinated and that can also lead to a surge,” said Jain.

People who were vaccinated early on in the pandemic, but have not yet received booster shots may be vulnerable.

In Shelby County, there is no longer a mask mandate, but Jain says people may want to continue wearing masks, especially if they’re unvaccinated or immunocompromised.

“Think of it like wearing a seatbelt. You can choose to not wear a seatbelt but you’re taking a greater level of risk,” said Jain. “Isn’t it simpler to wear a seatbelt or wear a mask to be highly protected.?”

Jain says if there is another wave, doctors have more tools to treat COVID-19, including monoclonal antibodies and other medications.

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