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Health worker at a vaccination clinic in Mississippi. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Although COVID-19 cases are dropping across the country, even in areas that haven't vigorously vaccinated their populations, experts warn the good times may not last, the Associated Press reported Sunday.

The state of play: The declining case numbers could be due to a combination of vaccination, natural immunity in communities where many were already exposed to the virus, and the warmer months allowing people to spend less time cooped up indoors, per AP.

  • Only eight states have seen their case averages increase the past two weeks, and all of these states have vaccination rates below the national average of about 39% being fully vaccinated.
  • On the other hand, the 10 states with the fewest COVID-19 cases per capita are fully vaccinated at rates higher than the national average, per AP.

But, but, but: The good news comes with a catch. Mississippi's case numbers are falling while it has vaccinated only 28% of its population, and about 60% of its population has some form of natural immunity due to previous exposure, per AP.

  • “We certainly are getting some population benefit from our previous cases, but we paid for it,” Thomas Dobbs, Mississippi's State Health Officer told AP. “We paid for it with deaths.”
  • The state has seen 7,300 people die from COVID-19.

The big picture: Natural immunity from the virus due to exposure could prove temporary, Leana Wen, a public health professor at George Washington University, told AP.

  • “Just because we’re lucky in June doesn’t mean we’ll continue to be lucky come the late fall and winter,” said Wen. “We could well have variants here that are more transmissible, more virulent and those who do not have immunity or have waning immunity could be susceptible once again.”

Of note: Vaccination has proven to be a thorny partisan issue. A Sunday CBS poll showed that nearly 30% of Republicans are not planning to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Go deeper

Sep 21, 2021 - Health

U.S. COVID death toll surpasses 1918 flu fatalities

White flags are seen on the National Mall on Sept. 18, honoring Americans who have lost their lives to COVID-19 epidemic. Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

The recorded number COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. has now surpassed the known number of fatalities from the 1918 flu pandemic.

The big picture: The U.S. has now marked more than 676,000 deaths from the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the 1918 pandemic killed about about 675,000 people.

Sep 20, 2021 - Health

Biden administration to lift travel ban for fully vaccinated international travelers

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients announced on Monday that the Biden administration will allow fully vaccinated travelers from around the world to enter the U.S. beginning in November.

Why it matters: The announcement comes as President Biden seeks commitments from countries to donate vaccines to the global COVAX initiative. He is expected to host a COVID summit on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly this week, and many of the countries attending have expressed frustration with the travel ban.

Rep. Tim Ryan tests positive for coronavirus

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) said Monday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus, and that his vaccination against the virus prevented a more severe infection.

What they're saying: "Today, I tested positive for COVID-19," Ryan wrote on Twitter. "While I’m currently experiencing mild symptoms, I’m grateful to have the protection of a safe and effective vaccine — and I know without it, this illness could be much, much worse."

  • "What we have learned over the last year and a half is that we are in this together, and I urge all Ohioans to help us crush this pandemic by wearing a mask and getting vaccinated so that we can get back to normal."