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Seventeen US states have reported more new coronavirus cases in the last week than in any week prior. The country’s seven-day average of new cases has risen around 25% since October 1, with the number of new cases climbing in 41 states over the last two weeks. The US is now seeing an average of more than 50,000 cases per day.
“I’m not a doomsday person: but this is the beginning of the wave,” Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency-medicine physician at Brown University, wrote Thursday on Twitter.
Indeed, the US has entered its third major wave of infections — one experts worry could wind up being the largest. The reason, they say, is a combination of factors: Lockdown measures have lifted, more people are spending time indoors as weather gets cold, residents are feeling fatigued by safety measures, and cases never dropped sufficiently.
“If the rates never get that low and basic public-health measures are not universally adopted, and then you bring people indoors to share a meal together, you’re kind of putting together the perfect storm,” Ingrid Katz, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, told Business Insider. “Unfortunately this was completely anticipated.”
Indeed, the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) predicted in August that more than 20 states would need to reimpose lockdown measures before December, including closing non-essential businesses and reinstating stay-at-home orders. Their model predicts that at least 175,000 more people in the US could die from now through February 1. That would make this third wave the deadliest yet.
“The infections that will fill our hospital in 2 weeks have already been transmitted,” Ranney said. “Wear a mask and get ready to hunker down again.”
Pandemic fatigue has arrived
During the first wave in the spring, US cases were concentrated in the Northeast. By the second wave this summer, cases had migrated to the South and Sunbelt. Now cases are concentrated in the Midwest, but the virus is more widespread than ever before — it’s had 10 months to spread, after all.
What remains the same, however, is that the US continues to be hamstrung by insufficient contact tracing and a widespread distrust of scientific recommendations.
“We still don’t have a national coordinated response. We still have a lot of misinformation about simple, basic public-health behavior, like wearing a mask, which we know is effective,” Katz said, adding, “in a way, we’re battling two pandemics — that of COVID itself and then, of course, the misinformation that surrounds it.”
But it’s understandable that some Americans are struggling to follow public safety measures, she added, since many people have developed “pandemic fatigue.” That could make them less likely to remain at home or stay informed about local transmission. As schools and businesses reopen, others may get the false impression that those environments are now completely safe.
“We’re seeing a rollercoaster in the United States,” IHME director Dr. Christopher Murray said in a statement. “It appears that people are wearing masks and socially distancing more frequently as …read more
Source:: Business Insider