July 14, 2021 -- It's been 18 months since a public health emergency was declared in the United States because of SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus, and questions still swirl around the crisis, as evidenced by an expert panel on Tuesday trying to come up with some hard answers.

COVID, Delta and Booster Shots: What to Know

Even as the debate over the timing and need for COVID-19 booster shots continues, how safe is it for the fully vaccinated to get a third dose? As cases and hospitalizations rise among some younger people and in some areas of the country, are deaths truly down or just delayed? Could the Delta variant eventually make "long-haul" COVID-19 symptoms worse?

Experts from the CDC and the Infectious Diseases Society of America addressed these and other uncertainties during a media briefing July 13.

"After several months of falling numbers of cases, followed by a prolonged plateau period, we are seeing an increase in the number of cases in many parts of the country," said Jay C. Butler, MD, deputy director for infectious diseases at the CDC, of the current pandemic picture in the U.S.