There are several reports out today about new initiatives related to COVID-19.
Several reports state that the President-elect will be naming his COVID-19 task force leaders tomorrow. If the names are correct (Vivek Murthy, David Kessler, and Marcella Nunez-Smith), these are strong individuals who have extensive public health credentials and strong personalities dedicated to improving the nation’s health.
There are other reports that suggest that several initiatives will be proposed by the new taskforce. These will include activities like encouraging state mask mandates, home COVID-19 testing, and free daily testing for workplaces or other situations where individuals cannot self-quarantine. Whether these initiatives will change the current situation is not clear.
Regardless of any new initiative, it is likely that COVID-19 infection numbers will follow movement patterns of individuals in the U.S. Given this, I think the most likely scenario is that the current peak will start to drop in the weeks before Thanksgiving as travel decreases. What happens after that and during the December holiday period is not entirely clear. With the migrations of students home after the end of fall classes (mostly now happening at Thanksgiving) as well as families having some type of communal event during the holidays, it would not be surprising to see infections plateau at lower but significant rates until early January.
After that, I believe that infections will start to fall in the new year in part because the current clusters will burn themselves out. After that, we can hope that there will be vaccine-induced immunity that will start in the first quarter of 2021. This should help prevent future peaks of infection, but won’t totally eradicate COVID-19. Even with a vaccine there will be a background level of infection that will continue certainly well into 2021 and beyond.
There was a remarkably reassuring piece on 60 Minutes tonight on the military’s system for COVID-19 vaccine distribution to Americans. There was also a “scary blurb” about a lack of focus on COVID-19 during the political transition in STAT news. You can decide if you want to be reassured or frightened about COVID-19 this evening!