A report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday predicts a “sharp decline” in U.S. coronavirus cases by July.

“What we learn from this report is that we are not out of the woods yet, but we could be very close,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said at a press briefing on Wednesday.

Vaccines and following mitigation measures “can help us turn the corner on the pandemic as early as July,” she added.

Cartoons on the Coronavirus

The study used data from six coronavirus models to produce four scenarios related to vaccination coverage and adherence to mitigation measures for the six-month period between April and September. In all four scenarios, coronavirus cases were expected to increase through May due to the spread of the coronavirus variant first found in the U.K. and decreased compliance with mitigation measures. In reality, national cases are currently on the decline, according to CDC data.

High vaccination rates and moderate adherence to mitigation measures would produce an even faster decline in cases. But an accelerated decline in adherence to health policies like masking and social distancing “was shown to undermine vaccination-related gains over the subsequent 2–3 months and, in combination with increased transmissibility of new variants, could lead to surges in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths,” according to the study.

“Local conditions and emerging variants are putting many states at risk for increases in COVID-19 cases, especially if we do not increase the rate of vaccinations and if we do not keep our current mitigation strategies in place until we have a critical mass of people vaccinated,” Walensky said.

The study had several limitations, including that it only considered the highly transmissible coronavirus variant first found in the U.K., so “other emerging variants might have different effects.”

Leading infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci on Wednesday said that even those who were previously infected with the coronavirus should consider getting vaccinated, noting that “vaccines can do better than nature.”

“Vaccines are highly efficacious,” Fauci said at the press briefing. “They are better than the traditional response you get from natural infection.”

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