By Paul Gessler

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Experts from Johns Hopkins’ Coronavirus Research Center marked one million coronavirus deaths in the U.S. during its weekly briefing Friday by urging vaccinations, boosters, and mask usage.“It’s made even more tragic by the fact that many of these deaths could have been prevented by vaccination,” Dr. William Moss, the Johns Hopkins’ CRC Vaccinology Lead, said. “We cannot afford to become numb to the numbers.”CRC Clinical Lead Dr. Brian Garibaldi touted therapeutics and vaccines, but urged wearing masks in public spaces.“We know that they prevent disease and we know they can tamp down the disease and save lives,” Dr. Garibaldi said. “If you’re vaccinated and not boosted yet, why not?”COVID infections nationally are on the rise, up 168 percent in the past month. In Maryland, the COVID case rate has more than tripled in that time, according to the Department of Health. Data scientists say the case counts are likely much higher, due to underreporting.“We are now flying very blind with very little understanding of where the disease is,” CRC Data Lead Beth Blauer said.CRC Public Health Lead Dr. Crystal Watson says mask mandates should be considered when hospitalization rates are elevated.“When we have that high of community COVID, masking is a really good idea,” Dr. Watson said.The American Academy of Pediatrics says cases in children have jumped 76 percent in two weeks. Now, federal health advisors are urging a third Pfizer dose for children 5 to 11.Vaccines for children under five could soon be around the corner. The FDA’s commissioner said this week public hearing for Moderna’s vaccine for children under five will happen “as quickly as possible.”

Paul Gessler