For Dr. Jeremy Faust, the moment he realized the pandemic no longer dominated his workday came over Memorial Day weekend, when he didn’t see a single coronavirus case over two shifts in the emergency room at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
Kerry LaBarbera, an ER nurse a few miles away at Boston Medical Center, had a similar realization that same weekend, when just two patients with COVID-19 came through her unit, one of the busiest in New England.
“The past year and a half has been like going through a tornado or something terrible,” she said. “You’re holding on for dear life, and then you get past it and it’s like, ‘What just happened?’”
Massachusetts and the rest of New England — the most heavily vaccinated region in the U.S. — are giving the rest of the country a possible glimpse of the future if more Americans get their shots.
COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the region have been steadily dropping as more than 60% of residents in all six states have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
The Deep South states of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, in comparison, are the least vaccinated at around 35%, and new cases relative to the population are generally running higher there than in most of New England. Nationally, about 50% of Americans have received at least one shot.