The campaign to conquer the coronavirus pandemic is having its cautious optimism tested by a stubborn and concerning surge of cases in the Midwest and Northeast, as well as frustrating vaccine supply problems — worsened by manufacturing bungles in a Baltimore plant.
Expert forecasters now see options for how the crucial next several months could go in the battle against the disease. These include an effective vaccination program outpacing the rise of variants (including the B117 strain that has become the most common in this country) and quashing the pandemic, to the viral mutations getting out of control and the nation limping into persistent and unchecked infections for a long time.
In Michigan, where one of the worst outbreak rages (see Mayo Clinic hot spot map, above), the governor and state officials have found themselves in a public policy quandary, uncertain whether stern health restrictions may have lost their public support to be effective now after showing results before. But in California, officials are waiting and watching to see if plunging infections, hospitalizations, and deaths will reverse as they have elsewhere.