White House COVID-19 response team highlights efforts to keep case numbers trending downward

US coronavirus deaths reach milestone Monday topping 500,000

500K Americans lost to COVID-19
500K Americans lost to COVID-19

DETROIT – On Monday, the White House COVID response team talked about efforts to keep case numbers moving in the right direction.

Coronavirus cases continue to decline for the fifth straight week, but experts stress they remain at a high level.

US coronavirus deaths reached a milestone Monday topping 500,000.

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CDC Director Rochelle Walensky was asked whether the half a million deaths represent an undercount of those we have truly lost.

She said even if we could count the direct number of deaths from COVID perfectly, that number doesn’t take into account the deaths of those impacted by other aspects of the pandemic, including deadly delays in medical care.

“When history writes this, we will understand that the mortality related to this pandemic is far greater than the numbers we have been counting for numerous reasons,” she said.

Facing that reality, the White House says it is critical to get vaccines sidelined by the winter weather back on track.

On Sunday, UPS extended hours to allow hundreds of thousands more doses to be sent out.

The team encourages vaccination sites to follow the same lead of those who are working extended hours to catch up on deliveries by scheduling more appointments to vaccinate the anxious public as quickly as possible.

The CDC director also highlighted new research on school spread. That study looked at nine COVID clusters involving 13 teachers and 32 students at six elementary schools in Georgia.

“The two main reasons for spread of COVID-19 in these schools were inadequate physical distancing and mask adherence. In the schools, physical distancing of at least six feet was not possible because of the high number of students in class as well as because of classroom layouts,” she said.

The study also noted that students ate lunch in their classrooms, which may also have contributed to the spread.

This research really highlights the importance of layers of protection.

For example, when students weren’t wearing masks or wearing them poorly, the virus was able to spread more easily because there wasn’t sufficient distancing.

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About the Authors:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.

Natasha Dado is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit.