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Photo: Steph Chambers via Getty Images

Coronavirus cases across the U.S. are likely to peak this month before dropping by July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

The state of play: America's rate of daily new COVID cases has declined in recent weeks, per data from Johns Hopkins University. Health officials are urging people to remain vigilant as variants spread, some of which are more contagious and deadly than the original strain of the virus.

What they're saying: CDC projections in four different scenarios of vaccination rates and state reopenings show that the outbreak generally remains the same in each forecast.

  • While cases are expected to spike in May, hospitalizations and deaths will likely remain low nationwide, the agency said. Across all four scenarios, the country's case count is likely to fall in July.
  • High vaccination rates and adherence to safety protocols "are essential to control COVID-19 and prevent surges in hospitalizations and deaths in the coming months," U.S. health officials wrote in Wednesday's report.

At a press briefing Wednesday, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said "we have a path out of this," but maintained that "variants are a wild card that could reverse this progress we have made."

  • "Simply put, the sooner we get more and more people vaccinated, the sooner we will all get back to normal," Walensky said.

Go deeper

Mar 20, 2021 - Health

Fauci: U.K. variant may account for 30% of U.S. coronavirus infections

Anthony Fauci during a Senate hearing committee on March 18. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The coronavirus variant first discovered in the United Kingdom may account for up to 30% of new COVID infections across the U.S., NIAID Director Anthony Fauci said during a White House briefing on the virus Friday.

Why it matters: The variant, called B.1.1.7, has been detected throughout the U.S., and studies have suggested it appears to spread more easily than the original strain of the virus.

Jan 4, 2021 - Health

More contagious COVID-19 variant found in 3 U.S. states

Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

Part of the reason experts are so willing to shake up the vaccine process is a new, more contagious strain of the virus that's spreading around the world.

Why it matters: There's no evidence so far that the mutation makes people any sicker. But if it's more contagious, that means more people getting sick, a certain portion of which will require care from the already-strained health care system.

Updated Jan 15, 2021 - Health

The coronavirus variants: What you need to know

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New variants of the coronavirus circulating globally appear to increase transmission and are being closely monitored by scientists.

Driving the news: The highly contagious variant B.1.1.7 originally detected in the U.K. could become the dominant strain in the U.S. by March if no measures are taken to control the spread of the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.