BBC World London
Published on Saturday, 14 November 2020
Political uncertainty and the health emergency intersect in the US: while the Donald Trump government focuses on asking for recount and contesting the result of the elections, the coronavirus pandemic is experiencing its worst moment in the country.
With winter approaching and with the lack of a national plan to deal with new outbreaks, new cases, hospitalizations and deaths multiply.
For days, US media critical of Trump’s management had pointed out that the president, who spent more than a week without speaking to the press, did not seem to show interest in his obligations and in the course of the pandemic, while tries to reverse the results of the elections from Twitter and the courts.
On the afternoon of this Friday, however, Trump appeared again in front of the cameras to promise that a potential vaccine will be ready before the end of the year and ruled out the possibility that his government will impose a new quarantine to face the pandemic.
“This government will not be closed. Hopefully the … whatever happens in the future, who knows what government it will be? I guess time will tell. But I can tell you that this government will not go to a shutdown,” he said.
A day earlier, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading authority on infectious diseases, had called for redoubled efforts in the face of the increase in cases because an effective vaccine, he said, would not be immediately available.
“Help is on the way. But it is not here yet,” he said.
Fauci has not been the only one to draw attention to the growing number of infections in the United States.
Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said the nation is going through a “dangerous season,” while CNN medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta called the situation a “humanitarian disaster.”
Meanwhile, epidemiologist Michael Osterholm, who was recently appointed as a member of President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus task force, described the current outlook as “covid hell.”
According to Osterholm, although the United States is not the only place in the world where cases are rebounding again, the situation becomes more critical for two reasons: first, because it is the country with the most infections and deaths in the world and, second, because the outgoing government does not seem interested in taking mitigation measures in his remaining in office.
We can get an idea of how bleak the situation is by reviewing some of the figures that have sounded the alarms of the medical and scientific community.
1. A historical record of cases
For months now, the US has held the sad position of being the country with the most cases and deaths from coronavirus in the world.
Of the more than 53 million infections reported globally, more than 10.3 million are from the United States, almost 20% of the global total in a nation whose population represents 4% of the planet.
But if the overall numbers are alarming, what has happened in recent days has been a major concern.
On Thursday alone, the US surpassed 160,000 new cases in one day, almost a week after crossing the record of 100,000 daily infections.
Two states, Texas and California, were the first this week to report more than a million people infected, while others, like Florida, are following suit.
The increase has been a trend in recent weeks in more than 40 states and, based on models from several universities, the figure could get worse in the days to come.
According to the CDC, it is expected that between 630,000 and 1,700,000 new cases will be reported in the country before December 5, although the agency points out that the estimate may fall below.
“Over the past few weeks, more cases have been reported than expected in the prediction. This suggests that the current forecast may not reflect the full range of cases that will be reported in the future. Projections for new cases should be interpreted accordingly.” indicates on its website.
2. Increasing number of hospitalizations
The scene is familiar: as happened in the spring and summer, hospitals in many states are again beginning to run out of beds, now at a greater rate.
Currently, there are more Americans hospitalized with COVID-19 in the US than at any time before the pandemic.
As of November 12, more than 67,000 people were receiving hospital care after testing positive for coronavirus, according to data from the Covid Tracking Project, a monitoring system for the pandemic.
As of this Friday, 17 states reported a general increase in hospitalizations.
The previous record dates back to April 15, when New York was the epicenter of COVID-19 in the US, and 59,940 hospitalizations were reported nationwide.
“The new record for hospitalizations shows that we have entered the worst period of the pandemic since the original outbreak in the Northeast (in New York and nearby states),” wrote the creators of the Covid Tracking Project on Wednesday.
3. Deaths are on the rise again
The CDC registered as of this Friday more than 242,200 deaths, a mortality rate of 73 per 100,000 inhabitants in the United States.
And they reported 1,859 deaths from covid-19 on November 10, the highest figure since the more than 2,500 registered on June 25, an anomalous day because by then the weekly average had been falling to about 600.
In fact, on November 10, the average death toll of 1,000 was exceeded for the first time in the previous seven days, something that had not happened since August.
Trevor Bedford, an analyst at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Research Institute, recalled on Twitter that deaths during the pandemic generally begin to rise three weeks after cases skyrocket.
“I estimate that the United States will report more than 2,000 deaths per day in three weeks,” he wrote.
The mathematical model of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects some 399,162 deaths in the US by February 1 if current conditions are maintained, but if protection measures are further relaxed, it estimates that the figure would be around 513,657.
4. Critical situation in many states
If at the beginning of the pandemic the epicenter was more “concentrated” in some states (such as New York and later Florida), now epidemiologists warn that the situation is more complicated by the increasing number of cases reported throughout the world. country.
As Frieden tweeted, this is because the United States entered “the exponential phase” of spreading the virus, so it is foreseeable that the situation will significantly worsen in most states.
However, he clarified that not all places are currently experiencing the same rate of spread of covid-19.
“For example, South Dakota (the state with the highest rate) has 100 times the spread of Vermont,” he said.
5. The White House as the epicenter
For many US media outlets, a reflection of how the pandemic is out of control in the country is the situation in the White House itself, in which nearly 200 people, from the president to members of his personal and service team, safety, have tested positive or have had to isolate themselves due to being in contact with the virus.
More than 30 people, including Trump, his wife and their youngest son, on dates close to the event for the nomination of Amy Conney Barret for the Supreme Court.
The president himself had to be hospitalized and a few weeks later several aides to Vice President Mike Pence also fell ill.
In early November, after an election night event in which Trump was proclaimed the winner while the counts were still continuing, a new outbreak was reported: Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, one of his campaign bosses, and another dozen officials tested positive. (BBC WORLD)