TIME - From the end of 2020 into early 2021, the U.S. was locked on a pathway of continually breaking and re-breaking COVID-19 records. In December, more than 200,000 new infections in a single day were reported for the first time. Only about a month later, the country hit a somber new record: 300,000 diagnoses in a single day.
After months near those dizzyingly high marks, daily case numbers have fallen dramatically. On Feb. 9, there were 92,666 new diagnoses, the third day in a row the tally was below 100,000—which last happened on Dec. 25.
About 10% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. While those individuals are less likely to become sick with COVID-19, which certainly helps slow the virus, experts estimate upward of 70% of the population would need to be immune to COVID-19 to stamp out its spread.
“We’re nowhere near where you need to be for herd immunity, even with the combination of vaccination and the number of people who had the disease,” says Dr. Mark Roberts, director of the Public Health Dynamics lab at the University of Pittsburgh. Each vaccination helps, but it may take months for immunizations to have a dramatic effect on case counts.
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