Today is February 23, 2021. We are at (approximately) one year since COVID-19 came into our collective consciousness in the United States.

This week, we reached another grim milestone: 500,000 Americans have died in the past year from COVID. This screenshot from Worldometers.com:

I want to take a moment and observe a moment of silence for the lives of those 500,000 Americans (and almost 2.5 million people worldwide) who have died so far from COVID. Many of those deaths were preventable, had we taken better precautions, including more wide-spread use of masks, social distancing, and hand-washing.

There is some good news. So far, two vaccines have been approved (one by Pfizer and the other by Moderna). There are indications that two more vaccines may soon be approved in the U.S. (one by J&J, the other by AstraZeneca).

In addition, the number of new cases continues to decline. Fatalities are still high (some days over 3,000 deaths per day), but recently we had a day with less than 100,000 new cases in the U.S. It isn’t clear why that is. The obvious reason would be if we had vaccinated 2/3 or 3/4 of our population, but right now (per CDC) 44 million Americans have received 1 dose and 20 million have received 2 doses. So our case decline might be partly due to vaccines administered, but there are probably other reasons too. One of those might be weather related. The weather has been really snowy and cold in the U.S. recently, so some people may find that they can’t get out to get a test.

Some potentially worrisome news is that more COVID variants continue to be discovered. Some of those variants are more infectious than the first strain of the virus. The obvious goal is to vaccinate as many people as possible, and hope that transmission of all strains goes down, before the new variants become widespread.

Hal