The United States, the country most affected by the coronavirus pandemic, exceeded four million infections on Thursday. While daily case records have been recorded in states like California and Florida, the advance of the epidemic in other regions of the country seems to have formed a “plateau”.
The new case report indicates a slowdown in the exponential increase seen in June in states such as Arkansas, Iowa, North and South Carolina, as well as Arizona, whose capital Phoenix was one of the epicenters of virus transmission a few weeks ago. SARS-CoV-2 most active in the country.
The mandatory use of mouth masks in public spaces, promoted by some local governments, the alerts issued by health officials and the closings of bars seem to have contributed to a brake on the spread of covid-19.
Although at the federal level, President Donald Trump only in recent days began to promote the use of masks as a “patriotic” gesture, after being reluctant to use it.
Two days before the United States exceeded four million cases and 143,800 deaths on Thursday, Trump had acknowledged that the situation “will worsen before it improves.”
But in Arizona there is hope: The number of new cases in this neighboring state of California reached 20,000 last week, 11 percent less than the previous week, according to official statistics.
“Things are getting better,” said Matthew Heinz, a physician at a Tucson hospital, who defends the use of face masks, on Thursday.
“Many more people wear masks compared to a month ago,” he told the AFP agency. Hospitalizations there have decreased since June.
Contagion intensity decreases in the US
Although the epidemic is far from contained in the United States, the number of infections increased 7 percent in one week, compared to 20 percent in the previous weeks.
And epidemic models predict, on average, a spike in the next four weeks, according to Nicholas Reich of the University of Massachusetts, who works with projections from about 20 research centers.
“The models respond to the slowdown seen in the increase in the number of cases last week,” the biostatistician told AFP.
Reich says he cannot assure that a tipping point has been reached, because in places like Texas and Florida people have to queue for hours to undergo a diagnostic test, and the results report takes three, four, or seven days, which hinders real-time monitoring.
The stabilization “is undoubtedly due in part to the test bottlenecks,” says the expert.
Death toll is approaching
The scientific consensus is that the wave of deaths follows that of infections in three to four weeks. The case curve began to increase again in mid-June, and the death curve rose moderately from the beginning of July with no signs of slowing down, reaching 1,000 deaths per day in the last two days.
Texas, California, Alabama and Idaho announced record 24-hour death records on Wednesday (California also had a record of infections). Florida did so on Thursday, reporting 173 deaths.
It is difficult to predict how far deaths will go, as mortality is not as high as at the start of the pandemic. Currently, two drugs have been shown to be effective as hospitals use less ventilators and patients are younger.
“But, as in April, stabilization will not be enough: the goal is to eliminate it, not just mitigate it,” Thomas Tsai, a Harvard doctor and researcher, told AFP.
Tsai is concerned to see which other regions will show increases, such as Missouri. Mississippi and Puerto Rico are also booming.
The mistake of the United States was to skip stages of lack of confidence in May and to have resumed activities too quickly, before the contagion curve had completely fallen, as in Europe.
If a turning point is really reached this summer, Tsai insists that the country will have to continue with physical distancing, the use of face masks, and a proactive testing, contact location, and isolation policy, which were neglected in late spring. Boreal.