Culture

Eight months in, California is containing COVID-19 as other states spike. Here’s why.


Eight months into the coronavirus pandemic, California has become a rare case: a state that has contained the transmission of COVID-19 and isn’t experiencing another surge — yet, at least.

Nationwide, daily infections are up one-quarter in the last two weeks, and the country just reported its most in a single day since July. Lightly populated North Dakota is seeing 85 new cases a day per 100,000 residents over the last two weeks. California? Ten new cases per 100,000, up just 2 percent in two weeks.

The reasons why, health experts say, are made clear by a stroll through San Francisco. Pedestrians are masked and passing each other at acceptable social distances. Painted circles partition off small groups at one of the city’s most popular parks. Posters stapled to signposts once hawked live music; now, they advertise masks.

Every city could be San Francisco, and every state like California, these experts say. SARS-CoV-2 has proved to be a complex and mysterious virus, but eight months since it landed on our shores, the science seems clear on a simple way to contain it.

“If you social distance and you wear masks, you decrease the cases dramatically,” said Dr. John Swartzberg, an infectious disease expert and professor emeritus at UC Berkeley. “A culture that accepts the science and follows it is going to do better.”

On an epidemiological basis, Swartzberg’s argument is sound, though people across the country continue to argue over whether the restrictions are exacting too great an economic and social price. Even in California, respected leaders say some aspects of the restrictions — shifting schools almost entirely to distance learning, for one — have gone too far.

Yet as the debate continues, a third wave of coronavirus cases is sweeping across the Midwest even as this summer’s surge through the South has hardly begun to relent. Even in parts of the Northeast, which successfully vanquished the virus after a devastating initial wave in the spring, transmission is on the rise.

There is good news: Death rates haven’t jumped in tandem, as doctors grow better at treating the sick. But with more infections and more fatalities than any other country in the world, and more than 20 states reporting record new case numbers over the past week, the outlook in the U.S. is grimmer than it could have been.

Why? Before the surge, and continuing throughout it, many states have been loosening restrictions meant to prevent the virus from spreading.

In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott has reopened bars and allowed fans at sporting events. In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis has lifted all restrictions.

In the spring, it was California shaking off its shutdown, then suffering from a surge in June. But the state learned lessons from its own initial attempt to reopen, which propelled it to the height of its infection rate about six weeks later.

Now Gov. Gavin Newsom and state health officials have implemented a reopening system that health experts say is working.

Each week, counties are evaluated on their per-capita infection rate and positivity rate, then placed into …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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