The United States is severely affected by the coronavirus epidemic. Some states like Florida had started deconfinement two months ago, before the number of contaminations exploded and forced part of the country to take very strict barrier measures. But it seems that the epidemic is on the downward slope across the Atlantic. The number of new cases of Covid-19 has thus fallen sharply in three weeks. While the country recorded peaks of more than 70,000 new cases per day last July, Thursday, August 20, only 43,000 cases have been confirmed positive.
Hospitalizations have also fallen by a third since the peak, according to the Covid Tracking Project, and the number of deaths, stable at a thousand per day since the end of July, should logically start to decrease. Nevertheless, experts wonder if Americans will have the discipline to continue with barrier gestures until the epidemic is really under control.
An incidence rate still too high
“I hope next week we start to see a reduction” in mortality, Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) director Robert Redfield said on Thursday in an online conversation with the medical journal Jama. The country is not out of the woods, however. The incidence rate (number of new cases reported to the population) remains three times that observed in France or Mexico. And the American average hides huge regional disparities.
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“We’re starting to turn the tide in what I call the Southern epidemic,” said Robert Redfield. “But there are worrying signals,” he said, pointing to the central Midwest region, where numbers are stagnating instead of falling. “The Midwest is stuck right now,” warned Robert Redfield. “We are not doomed to a third wave in the center,” he then implored.
The fear of the health authorities is a repetition of the disaster scenario of spring: pressed by Donald Trump, many southern and western states, which had only been slightly affected during the first wave of February-March-April, deconfined before reducing the incidence to a low level, which led to the huge rebound in June and July.
A virtual return to school
However, in the center and the South, many schools and universities have taken the gamble of recalling pupils and students in class. Alabama will reopen all of its campuses, but will first test all the students. Elsewhere, the major universities of North Carolina at Chapel Hill or Notre Dame have returned to virtual after their start last week, due to outbreaks of contagion in student residences.
For schools, colleges and high schools, most large cities (Washington, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles …) have opted for a 100% virtual start, but, in rural areas, multiple homes have broken out where students are income in class. Donald Trump is in favor of a total reopening and a return to normalcy, but the federal government leaves the local authorities to assess the risks themselves. No epidemic criteria have been set at the national level.
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“You really have to think twice before bringing the children back to school” in the “red” areas of the government (incidence greater than 100 cases per week per 100,000 inhabitants), warned Anthony Fauci, expert in infectious diseases government, in an exchange with George Washington University.
Anthony Fauci’s warning
“We must take into account the level of disease in the surrounding area,” also insists Jennifer Nuzzo, epidemiologist at Johns-Hopkins, and close the establishments if necessary. Anthony Fauci tirelessly warns against a further relaxation of barrier gestures that have clearly proven their worth from New York to Phoenix.
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“We have the power, even before the arrival of a vaccine, to control this epidemic if we respect the principles of public health”, says the infectious disease specialist. “I would love to see all of the United States move in the same direction. “Patience is required: even if a vaccine were available in early 2021, the” return to normal “will take months, the time to vaccinate the population and achieve herd immunity. Ezekiel Emanuel, of the University of Pennsylvania, estimates that it will be necessary to wait until November 2021 or January 2022.