Coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. expected to continue for weeks, experts say

Sign tells people to stay six feet from a farmers market in the Bronx district of New York, USA |  Photo: David Dee Delgado |  Bloomberg
Sign tells people to stay six feet from a farmers market in the Bronx district of New York, USA | Representative image | Photo: David Dee Delgado | Bloomberg

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Washington: Coronavirus surge that has seen a record number of new cases in the United States in recent days is expected to continue for weeks after states moved too early to reopen their economies, two of the country’s leading experts said on Sunday. in public health.

Warnings from Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control from 2009 to 2017, and Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, came as a new survey showed confidence in the how the United States treated Covid-19. fell.

In an interview with Fox News On Sunday, Frieden said the virus still has the “advantage”, even though he admitted that the Americans were tired of the restrictions necessary to contain it.

“We are all sick and tired of staying at home. But you know what? The virus is not tired of making us sick, ”he said.

“We are moving too fast,” said Frieden of states that were still keen to continue staggered reopenings as cases escalated. “It’s like bending over in a left hook. You will be hit hard. And that’s what’s going on. “

2.5 million cases

Coronavirus cases in the United States now exceed 2.5 million, with more than 125,000 deaths reported – in both cases, the highest in the world. The country’s inability to control the spread of the virus appears to result in a ban on American citizens from traveling to Europe, for example, where cases are in some cases down 90% from their peak.

An EU decision to restrict travel from the United States is the inevitable result of the continued spread to America, said Gottlieb. Growing restrictions on travel to the United States may come next, he said.

A CBS poll released on Sunday showed that 62% of those polled said that US efforts to fight the virus “are going badly”, down from 57% in early June. The percentage who said President Donald Trump was “doing a good job” on the virus was 41%, the lowest of five polls since late March.

The survey of 2,009 American adults was conducted from June 23 to 26. He had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

Alex Azar, the US secretary of health and human services, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the “window was closing” to control the spread of the virus.

“This is a very, very serious situation,” said Azar, an optimistic assessment contradicted by Vice President Mike Pence in a later interview.


Also read: RT-PCR, antigen, antibody, TrueNAT – everything you need to know about the different Covid tests


“A much better place”

Pence, who was traveling to Texas on Sunday, downplayed the current hike in the states, noting that it affected only 4% of American counties and had been caused by more cases among young people, who were less likely to suffer from severe health consequences.

“We are in a much better place to respond to these epidemics than four months ago,” Pence told CBS “Face the Nation”, noting that the nation tests around 500,000 people a day and has a greater community monitoring and testing capacity.

“We have also expanded our health care capacity across the country, seeing literally billions delivered in personal protective equipment, ventilators,” he said. “And the most important thing right now is that we have seen the development and distribution of therapeutic products that have literally saved lives across the country.”

Pence also dismissed concerns that the increase in new infections was due to the rapid easing of public health restrictions and pressure from the Trump administration to quickly reopen the economy with the November elections in mind.

“The simplest intervention”

“There is a temptation to associate new cases in the sunbelt with reopening, but it is important to remember” that states like Florida and Texas actually started to open in early May and have avoided an outbreak of infections “for most of six weeks,” he said.

Also on “Face the Nation,” Gottlieb said that the spread of the virus would likely continue to grow in the absence of requirements for “universal masking” of people in affected states.

Forcing people to wear masks is “the simplest intervention we can take” to stop the spread of the virus, said Gottlieb. Surveys, including the CBS survey, show that the issue of wearing masks has become very politicized in the United States.

While the virus has declined in the northeast, states such as Florida, Texas and Arizona have seen cases of the virus increase in recent days. Other measures, including hospitalizations and deaths, have not increased as much.

Florida officials on Sunday said state coronavirus cases increased 6.4% from the previous day. Cumulative hospitalizations for Florida residents increased 0.8%. Cases in Arizona jumped 5.5%, above the state average of a 4.4% daily increase over the past week.

The current record rate of new cases reported at 40,000 or more in recent days likely reflects a much larger epidemic, said Gottlieb.

Encouraging signs

According to CDC’s own estimates, the actual number of infections was 5 to 10 times higher than that reported, said Gottlieb, which meant that the real rate of new infections was likely to be “a quarter of a million ” every day.

Frieden said that while there are potentially encouraging signs in the growing share of young people – who are less likely to suffer from serious complications – among the new cases reported, this should not be a reason to be overjoyed.

“What starts in young people doesn’t stay in young people,” he said, because young people, often asymptomatic, can spread the coronavirus to more vulnerable individuals, including family members and colleagues.

It was wrong to dismiss the recent increase in daily cases based on increased testing, said Frieden. A lower death rate was also potentially misleading, he said, with reported deaths likely to delay an increase in cases by about a month. Bloomberg


Also read: Most children have a mild form of Covid-19, facing a tiny risk of death, according to Lancet study


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