New COVID-19 cases see decline nationally, but not in Houston area

National infection rate decrease
National infection rate decrease

HOUSTON – There is encouraging news regarding a sharp decline across the country in the number of new COVID-19 cases. According to data by the New York Times, there’s been a nearly 35% drop in the last three weeks.

“It’s good news. I’m glad to get it, but I’m still scratching my head,” said Dr. David Persse of the Houston Health Authority. “I’m not clear as to why it’s occurring. And until I have a good answer to that, I’m hesitant to speculate.”

Persse said while the latest stats nationally are certainly a good thing, they are not indicative of the trend in the COVID-19 cases across the Houston area.

“Here in Houston, Harris County, we’re not seeing a decline,” he said. “We are seeing what appears to be a plateauing or leveling off. That’s good news. I’ll be happier when those numbers start going down and I’ll be even happier when they’re going down and I have a good reason why.”

According to a newsletter by The New York Times, experts believe the drop nationally could be attributed to more people wearing masks and practicing social distance. But another possible explanation it suggests is the very early stages of herd immunity.

Something Persse does not believe is the case.

”I would absolutely not. I would not say it’s herd immunity because you think of herd immunity then people start thinking oh I can start taking the mask off and then we go back to normal. And that would be a disastrous thing,” said Persse.

While there is promise in the latest numbers regarding COVID-19 cases and more people continue to get vaccinated, Persse said now is not the time to be complacent.

”We’ve done this before, we’ve seen the numbers get better and we’ve dropped our guard and then things get worse again. So, this is why it’s so important to understand why the numbers are changing,” he said.

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