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COVID-19 surges in previously untouched places: Poland, Czechoslovakia, Paraguay– even North Dakota.

2020-10-20
EM SARS-COV-2 emerging from apoptotic cells: NIAID

The Washington Post on October 20 reported new surges in countries that had avoided the virus in the past: Eastern Europe, including Poland and Czechoslovakia were described in this new article. Multiple media have already reported that the northern Midwest US, including the states of North and South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, and Wisconsin are particularly hard hit.

These areas were previously spared the effects of the pandemic. New measures include the transformation of the National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland into a field hospital. Wisconsin has also set up a field hospital (source: Wisconsin Public Radio) at the site of its state fair in a suburb of Milwaukee. The Wisconsin field hospital could hold about 500 people; nearly a thousand people are currently hospitalized in the state with COVID-19.

There are multiple reasons for the outbreak of pandemic in the northern Midwest. One reason is the Sturgis motorcycle rally in August, where over 400,000 people gathered for an annual event that featured mass parties, drinking, and concerts. One estimate suggested as many as a quarter of a million infections could have been spread by the motorcycle rally (multiple sources.)

Another example is a party held in Prague, Czechoslovakia in early July to “say farewell” to the virus, which was attended by over 12,000 people.

Small multi-family gatherings have been blamed for the spread of virus to many groups who have otherwise remained isolated until this summer.

In Asia, Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) developed an outbreak recently. Jordan and Lebanon have been forced to institute measures, including curfews and shutting down bars and nightclubs.

The novel coronavirus has inexorably spread throughout the world, reaching areas that seemed to have been spared in the spring and summer. This winter is almost certain to see continued spread and quite possibly worsening in the US and all over the world.

The US has been a “hot spot” during the entire pandemic. There has been no relief. Daily new cases are averaging over 50,000. Death rates, however, have gone down– a new estimate by the Centers for Disease Control states that the rate is now 0.65% including all asymptomatic and mild disease.

The death rates at the onset of the pandemic were as high as 7 percent, but have gradually trended downwards as many milder infections were found. No one is certain why the severity of illness seems to be less. Nonetheless, the US has seen an average of 700 deaths a day for the last month.

North Dakota, a tiny state of 762,062 people, has had 4 deaths a day recently, almost a 50% increase in the last two weeks, with a 70% increase in cases. People in this state are widely dispersed and don’t travel much; cases are spread from person to person in families and at lunch counters where farmers gather for coffee.

Very few people wear masks even now. I lived there for a couple of years, and I know how far apart people there naturally are– so it’s shocking to me to see an infectious disease travel in that state. There are very few hospital beds per capita and even fewer intensive care or isolation beds.

If North Dakota is being hit, that means that it’s everywhere. If you haven’t gotten it yet, you have been running between the rain drops.

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