While coronavirus deaths in the United States are rising rapidly, public health experts are experiencing good news: the second increase in confirmed cases appears to be declining.
Scientists don’t celebrate in any way, warning that the trend is driven by four major successful sites: Arizona, California, Florida and Texas – and that cases are rising to about 30 states, with the center of the outbreak. apparently, gravity changes from the sun belt to the midwest.
Some experts wonder if the apparent improvements will last. It is also unclear when deaths will begin to decline. Deaths from COVID-19 do not move perfectly with the infection curve, for the simple reason that it can take weeks to get sick and die from the virus.
The future? “I think it’s very difficult to predict,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s leading infectious disease expert.
The virus has claimed more than 150,000 lives in the United States, by far the highest death toll in the world, in addition to half a million others worldwide.
Over the past week, the average daily death toll in the United States has risen more than 25%, from 843 to 1,057. Florida recorded 253 more deaths on Thursday, setting its third consecutive single-day record. The number of nationally confirmed infections has reached 4.4 million.
In other news:
– Collateral damage caused by the virus, with the US economy declining at a dizzying annual rate of 32.9% in the April-June quarter – by far the worst quarterly decline in 1947 records And more than 1.4 million laid-off Americans applied. for unemployment benefits last week, there is further evidence that employers are still shedding jobs five months after the crisis.
– Amid the outbreak and bad economic news, President Donald Trump first publicly launched the idea of delaying the November 3 presidential election, warning without proof that an increase in email voting would lead to fraud . Changing election day would require an act of Congress and the notion was immediately resisted on the part of top Republicans and Democrats.
– Herman Cain, a former CEO of the pizza chain who in 2012 tried unsuccessfully to become the first black candidate to win the Republican candidacy for president, died of complications from the virus at age 74.
Based on a seven-day rolling average, daily coronavirus cases in the United States fell from 67,317 on July 22 to 65,266 on Wednesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That is, a decrease of about 3%.
Researchers prefer to see two weeks of data pointing in the same direction to tell if a trend is genuine. “But I think it’s real, yes,” said Ira Longini, a biostatistician at the University of Florida who has monitored the coronavirus and has been a source of disease predictions used by the government.
The Associated Press found the seven-day average for new cases plated for two weeks in California and declined in Arizona, Florida and Texas.
Trends in Arizona, Texas and Florida are starting to “bend the curve a bit,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, a public health researcher at Johns Hopkins. These states, along with California, have been filing a large number of cases every day in the national registry. So as these places move forward, the whole country looks better, he said.
Also, in another possible glimpse of hope, the percentage of tests that return positive for the virus across the U.S. dropped from an average of 8.5% to 7.8% over the past week.
But with the outbreak heating up in the Midwest, Wisconsin Democratic government Tony Evers ordered the masks to be worn statewide due to a spike in the cases, joining about 30 other states that have taken these steps.
The latest rise in cases became apparent in June, weeks after states began reopening after a deadly explosion of cases in New York City in early spring. The daily number of cases rose to 70,000 or more earlier this month. Deaths also began to rise sharply after a delay of a few weeks.
Some researchers believe the recent flattening is the result of more people adopting social distancing and other precautions.
“I think a lot of people wear masks because they’re scared,” Longini said.
But Dr. Ali Khan, dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska, said the trend could also be due to the natural dynamics of the virus that scientists do not yet understand.
Without robust testing and other measures to control the virus, a third peak is possible, or even likely, given that only 10 percent of Americans have been infected so far, experts said. And there is no reason to believe that the peak cannot be greater than the first two.
“This disease will continue to occur until it is bound — susceptible individuals — like any good fire,” said Khan, a senior researcher of infectious disease outbreaks at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Fauci said he is “a little comforted” by the recent plateau. But a stabilization of about 60,000 cases is “at a very high level.” He said he is also concerned that rising test percentages will turn positive in states like Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana.
“This is a warning sign that you may be experiencing a sharp rise,” Fauci said. “They have to skip all that.”
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