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The good news is that COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have fallen precipitously in the last several weeks. And the vaccination rollout is accelerating — nationally about 14% of the population has received one vaccine dose and 7% are fully vaccinated.
While these trends are very encouraging we must be ever vigilant. It is tempting to relax restrictions too quickly and too much. New variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus are increasing prevalent. It is not a forgone conclusion that these optimistic downward trends will continue unabated and that there won’t be subsequent epidemic waves. Yes, we want to be hopeful and signs point in that direction. But at this precarious time we must closely follow the data, the science, the epidemiology. We cannot let our guard down.
Where we go from here must be informed by data and effectively communicated. Our messaging about trends in the pandemic, preventing COVID-19, about vaccine efficacy, and about tackling uneven access to resources must be accurate, timely, and responsible. The messaging must be balanced and transparent about what we know and what we don’t know.
We must be trustworthy public health messengers.
On Wednesday, March 3rd we’ll explore public health decision-making and communication with Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg, who will deliver the 46th Lester Breslow Distinguished Lecture “Truth and Trust in Public Health.” I hope you’ll join us.
Dr. Ron Brookmeyer
UCLA Fielding School of Public Health