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It looks like the US has given up on controlling coronavirus: Washington Post articles with graphics on new cases and deaths

2020-06-20

Electron micrograph of SARS-COV-2 virions in vitro

A graph of the daily new case counts for the US versus counts for Europe  (Washington Post June 19, free) shows a peak in early to mid-April, with Europe about a week before the US.  Since then, the new case counts have rapidly dropped in Europe, from 30,000 a day to about 4,000 a day.  In the US, new cases dropped somewhat, from a peak of near 30,000 to roughly 20,000 a day.  New cases have been increasing during the last two weeks.  The lowest seven-day average was around June 11, but new cases have been on the rise since.  Yesterday, June 19, there were 31,630 new cases reported– the first time over 30,000 since May 1, when 33,263 were recorded.

Whatever the reason, cases in Europe have dropped dramatically since the peak in early April.  Cases in the US dropped somewhat, but have remained high.  As the Northeast (especially New York) saw relief from their peaks, other regions have seen increases.  Some areas, particularly Florida, California, Arizona, and the Southeast, have seen dramatic increases.  The Washington Post has an article devoted to graphics  (free) of tests, cases, and deaths broken down by state.

Why are cases increasing in the US?  It is not due to an increase in testing– daily tests for the US have remained about 500,000 for several weeks.   Experts say the lack of precautions is a primary driver.  People are not wearing masks and not distancing themselves from one another.  They are mingling in sites like bars without masks.  Places like Oklahoma have seen more than double the average in cases over the last two weeks, with record highs in the last few days.

There is great danger that the outbreaks in these areas will become out of control.  In California, masks were made mandatory a few days ago.  Other states, especially those with Republican governors, have not responded well.  There has been a lot of political talk.  Even the president claims that some people are wearing masks as a sign that “they don’t like me.”

Contact tracing has fallen far behind the number of new cases.  Not enough contact tracers have been hired.  Cooperation with tracers has been poor.  This article in the Washington Post from June 20 (free) discusses the varied state efforts to hire contact tracers– without sufficient money to pay them.  Only New York State has been up to speed.

This lack of precautions and failure of contact tracing will lead to uncontrolled outbreaks of COVID-19 in rural areas and red states.  The failure of control will manifest more fully this fall.  A second wave will start before the first wave has subsided.  We are looking at a serious problem this fall and winter.

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