- The US enters the third wave of coronavirus infection. New cases are spiking in the Midwest.
- Public health experts are concerned that this wave could be the biggest, and perhaps the deadliest.
- The influx of cases and hospitalization is expected, they added, since lockdowns have risen, people are spending more time indoors, and “pandemic fatigue” has been set.
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Seventeen U.S. states reported more new cases of coronavirus last week than any week before. The country’s seven-day average of new cases has risen to around 25% since October 1, with the number of new cases rising to 41 states in the last two weeks. The US now sees an average of more than 50,000 cases per day.
“I am not a late person: but this is the beginning of the wave,” wrote Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency medicine physician at Brown University, on Thursday on Twitter.
In fact, the US has entered its third major wave of infections – one expert worries could be the biggest The reason, they said, is a combination of factors: Lockdown measures have risen , many people spend time indoors as the weather cools down, residents are disturbed by safety measures, and cases never fall short enough.
“If rates are never taken low and basic public health measures are not generally adopted, then you bring people inside the house to share food, you are kind of combining perfectly hurricane, “Ingrid Katz, an assistant professor at The Harvard Medical School, told Business Insider. “Unfortunately this is fully expected.”
In fact, the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) predicted in August that more than 20 states would have to reinstate lockdown measures before December, including closing down unnecessary businesses and restoring stay-at-home orders. Their model predicted that at least 175,000 more people in the US could die from now until February 1. That would make this third wave the deadliest.
“Infections that fill our hospital within 2 weeks have already been sent,” Ranney said. “Wear a mask and get ready for the hunker again.”
The pandemic stress has arrived
During the first wave in the spring, US cases were concentrated in the northeast. In the second wave this summer, cases moved to the South and Sunbelt. Now the cases are focused on the Midwest, but the virus is more widespread than ever – it has 10 months to spread, after all.
What remains the same, however, is that the US continues to be hamstrung by inadequate contact tracing and a widespread distrust of scientific recommendations.
“We still do not have a nationally coordinated response. We still have a lot of misinformation about simple, basic public health behavior, such as wearing a mask, which we know is effective,” Katz said, adding, one way, we are fighting two pandemics – the COVID itself and then, of course, the misinformation surrounding it. “
But it is understood that some Americans are struggling to follow public safety measures, he added, because many people have developed “pandemic fatigue.” They can make them more likely to stay home or stay informed about local delivery. As schools and businesses open, others may get the false impression that those environments are completely safe.
“We see a rollercoaster in the United States,” IHME director Dr. Christopher Murray in a statement. “It appears that people are wearing masks and the distance is more often when the infections rise, then after a while as the infections fall, people let watch and stop taking these steps to protect themselves and others – which, of course, leads to more infections. And the potentially deadly cycle begins again. ”
Increasing hospitalizations could trigger more lockdowns
Although new cases are concentrated in the Midwest, experts warn they could be quickly dumped in other parts of the country.
At least 14 states have test positive rates – the proportion of coronavirus tests that return positive – more than 10%, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said positive test rates should sit at less than 3%. A rate between 7% and 9% is “very disturbing,” Drs. Howard Koh, a professor at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, previously told Business Insider.
The overall US positive test rate was at 5.2% on Thursday, a slight increase from 4.6% on October 1.
Coronavirus hospitals are also on the rise. As of Friday, they had risen 21% compared to three weeks earlier. A dozen states – including Montana, North Dakota, and Wisconsin – saw a record of hospitalization rates last week, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
It is difficult to know whether this will translate into a proportional increase in mortality. Doctors have been better at treating patients since the pandemic began, and mortality rates vary depending on specific population groups exposed or infected, but there is still no cure for the virus.
If hospitals start to get crowded, public health experts say that could create the need for stricter lockdown restrictions.
“There are a lot of steps you can take between this and a full quarantine,” Katz said. “You can stop making dinner personally, you can stop going to people at the gym, you can stop having your hot yoga class. There are all sorts of different ways we can bring back.”