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2 million cases and counting: US COVID-19 outbreak charges on amid reopening [arstechnica.com]:
Cases of COVID-19 in the US have now exceeded 2 million, according to multiple [nytimes.com]tracking [arcgis.com]efforts [reuters.com]. Deaths from the new coronavirus pandemic stand at 112,000 nationwide.
Both figures are expected to be underestimates, given difficulties and inconsistencies in identifying and logging all the infections and deaths. Still, with the official figures, the US now claims more than 25 percent of all COVID-19 cases globally despite having less than 5 percent of the global population.
Some states are seeing sustained declines of new cases, but others are seeing increases—leading to a high plateau for the US overall. "We're identifying between 20,000 and 25,000 new cases a day, and about 800 to 1,000 people a day are dying of this virus” nationwide, Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told NPR [npr.org].
Though increases in testing can explain some of the increases, experts say that there are real upticks in transmission in many places.
States now seeing significant increases [nytimes.com] include Florida, Texas, North and South Carolina, California, Oregon, and Kentucky. Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona [reuters.com] are seeing some of the highest increases.
“When you look at the data and look at the number of tests and the percentage of positive tests, it’s very clear that it’s a real increase in community spread," Will Humble, executive director for the Arizona Public Health Association, told KJZZ in Phoenix [kjzz.org]. "It’s not some artifact of additional testing.”
Though all states have begun easing public health restrictions to some extent, some states are seeing sustained declines in cases, including many spots in the Northeast and Midwest. Experts who spoke with The New York Times [nytimes.com] attributed the improvements to people enjoying summer activities outdoors—where transmission risk is lower—and sustained efforts to follow social distancing—staying six-feet apart, wearing masks, practicing enhanced hygiene, etc.—even in the absence of state guidance.
Still, experts say that the situation will continue to evolve. “I think that the states are going to shift around over the course of the summer, which states are hot, which states are cooling down, but my concern is that we don’t really get below a very persistent and rather high level of infection across the country,” Scott Gottlieb, former FDA commissioner, said on CNBC Monday [cnbc.com].
And many fear a dreaded “second wave” of infection, in which cases and deaths could begin to climb from the elevated levels persisting now. The concern is bolstered by a sense that Americans overall are “giving up” on trying to curb the pandemic, according to a piece in The Atlantic [theatlantic.com].
Experts at the World Health Organization meanwhile urge everyone to keep fighting. “If we look at the numbers over the last number of weeks, this pandemic is still evolving. It is still growing in many parts of the world.” Mike Ryan, the WHO's executive director, said Wednesday. “By no means is this over.”