Halfway through 2020, the coronavirus continues to have the upper hand. Spread is now increasing throughout most of the U.S., and we are going in the wrong direction — fast. It will continue to spread — and continue to get worse for weeks and possibly months — unless we stop it.
There is no doubt that we are seeing a real increase in COVID-19, not an increase because of more testing. The proportion of tests coming back positive has increased further in most of the United States, a key indicator that more people are getting infected. Hospitals in Texas, Arizona and elsewhere are filling up with patients with severe COVID-19 disease. You don’t have to tell the doctors treating increasing numbers of very sick patients in Arizona and Texas that the increase is real.
The recent increase is biggest among younger adults, with the test positivity rate in this group jumping by more than a third. It’s likely that congregating at bars, clubs and other crowded places, along with the number of essential workers in this age group, is driving the increase in transmission nationally.
HERD IMMUNITY MAY NOT BE ACHIEVABLE IN FIGHT AGAINST CORONAVIRUS
Although younger people are much less likely to get severe illness from COVID-19, many do. And what starts in young adults won’t stay with them. They’ll spread it to others, many of whom are older or otherwise at increased risk.
Right now, COVID-19-related deaths are not increasing along with new cases, primarily because more younger people are getting infected because deaths increase only several weeks after cases increase and because we appear to be improving our ability to care for patients who are severely ill with COVID-19. But that is likely to change in the coming months. As the virus continues to spread, more people will get sick, more will be hospitalized and, tragically, more will die.
There are currently very few parts of the country where the virus is reasonably well controlled. It’s getting worse in most states and regions, and the trend is particularly alarming in the south and southeastern U.S. The health disparities from COVID-19 are striking — and unacceptable. Black, Hispanic/Latinx and Native American people in the U.S. are five times more likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19 than White people, and in data from New York City, Black and Hispanic/Latinx people twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than White people. This disproportionate burden of illness means we need a focused response so we can save as many lives as possible.
The rising tide of COVID-19 can quickly swamp any community, even places doing fairly well now. Today, at least a million people around the country are infected, contagious and able to spread disease. This is a vast viral reservoir that will take weeks or months to recede.
The virus won’t magically go away — but we don’t have to give up and live with it either. The virus will continue to spread until we stop it. With a clear national strategy and a well-organized national response, we can scale up basic prevention activities and fight back.
Each of us can follow the three W’s: wear a mask whenever you’re around other people, especially indoors, wash your hands frequently (or use hand sanitizer) and watch your distance to keep six feet away from others whenever possible.
With strategic testing, effective isolation, support to warn people who have been exposed and supportive quarantine of contacts so they won’t spread the infection, we can box the virus in so we can open our society more widely.
We can stop COVID-19, but it will take months of focused effort by everyone. Our health, our economy and our kids’ ability to go back to school all depend on all of us working together to get this right.
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE BY DR. TOM FRIEDEN
When they meet those who believe, they say: "We believe;" but when they are alone with their evil ones, they say: "We are really with you: We (were) only jesting."Allah will throw back their mockery on them, and give them rope in their trespasses; so they will wander like blind ones (to and fro). (The Cow 14-15 )