Yet another grim coronavirus milestone: the United States now has more than 5 million confirmed coronavirus cases — one quarter of all the world’s infections. President Donald Trump continues to assert that one day it’ll go completely away and that higher numbers is because of higher testing.
It took just six weeks for the number of Covid-19 infections to double in the U.S., which logged the last 1 million infections over the last two weeks, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The latest grim record comes as growth in new cases in the U.S. appears to be leveling off at an average of 54,235 new infections a day over the last week, according to a CNBC analysis of Hopkins’ data. New cases peaked at 67,902 new cases on July 19, based on a seven-day average, after a resurgence of coronavirus cases ripped through the Sun Belt states in June and July.
California and Florida have both reported more than 500,000 total cases since the outbreak hit the U.S. in late January and Texas is closely approaching that number. Total cases for each state now exceed New York, which was once considered the epicenter of the nation’s outbreak earlier this year. However, those states have reported far fewer deaths than the Empire State, which has lost more than 32,000 people to the coronavirus so far, according to Hopkins.
Doctors say they’ve been able to save more lives compared with the peak in New York in March and April because they know more about the virus and have discovered better treatments, such as remdesivir. The recent surge in cases has also affected far more younger people, who also have higher survival rates.
U.S. health officials fear the virus may be widely circulating in parts of the Midwest now. White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci and coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx have voiced concern that states like Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana are beginning to see a tick up in their so-called positivity rates, or the percent of tests that are positive.
In a Rome-datelined story, Associated Press reports on how the U.S. handling of the pandemic is being viewed with “astonishment and alarm” in Europe It contains this quote:
“Don’t they care about their health?” a mask-clad Patrizia Antonini asked about people in the United States as she walked with friends along the banks of Lake Bracciano, north of Rome. “They need to take our precautions. … They need a real lockdown.”
Read the AP report in full.
On July 30th the EU extended its second travel ban on visitors to the United States, as it began opening up to many other countries.
The Washington Post has a report on how Trump lost control of the coronavirus crisis, particularly during the summer. A few highlights:
If the administration’s initial response to the coronavirus was denial, its failure to control the pandemic since then was driven by dysfunction and resulted in a lost summer, according to the portrait that emerges from interviews with 41 senior administration officials and other people directly involved in or briefed on the response efforts. Many of them spoke only on the condition of anonymity to reveal confidential discussions or to offer candid assessments without retribution.
“Right now, we’re flying blind,” said Thomas Frieden, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Public health is not getting in the way of economic recovery and schools reopening. Public health is the means to economic recovery and schools reopening. You don’t have to believe me. Look all over the world. The U.S. is a laggard.”
Under mounting pressure to improve the president’s reelection chances as his poll numbers declined, the White House had what was described as a stand-down order on engaging publicly on the virus through the month of June, part of a deliberate strategy to spotlight other issues even as the contagion spread wildly across the country. A senior administration official said there was a desire to focus on the economy in June.
It was only in July, when case counts began soaring in a trio of populous, Republican-leaning states — Arizona, Florida and Texas — and polls showed a majority of Americans disapproving of Trump’s handling of the pandemic, that the president and his top aides renewed their public activity related to the virus.
Trump and many of his top aides talk about the virus not as a contagion that must be controlled through social behavior but rather as a plague that eventually will dissipate on its own. Aides view the coronavirus task force — which includes Fauci, Birx and relevant agency heads — as a burden that has to be managed, officials said.
Yet the virus rages coast to coast, making the United States the world leader, by far, in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths. An internal model by Trump’s Council on Economic Advisers predicts a looming disaster, with the number of infections projected to rise later in August and into September and October in the Midwest and elsewhere, according to people briefed on the data….
…Nearly seven months after the first coronavirus case was reported in the United States, there still is no national strategy to contain the outbreak — other than the demands, some of them contradictory, that Trump issues on Twitter or at news conferences. “OPEN THE SCHOOLS!!!” the president decreed in a tweet Monday.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.