Just because we don't care doesn't mean it will all go away
What is wrong with American media that we have to get our best reporting on the pandemic in this country from two Australians writing for foreign news services?
The Base Right who support Trump, of course want to deny the pandemic, and any natural or social scientific data suggesting their day in the sun is coming to a frosty conclusion at the end of the year.
The Left are unable to cover the demonstrations driven by the passion for justice at the same time as they cover the obvious dangers arising from the demonstrations: loss of social distancing and inconsistent wearing of masks.
Both sides would rather talk and speculate and sometimes report on looters.
The two sides intentionally cancel each others’ views.
The media ought to intend to cover each of the hurricanes of passion from the point of view of Care, caring for the most vulnerable equally: the victims of racist, homicidal cops; victims of the virus; victims of the various anti-voting schemes hatching in the hearts of white supremacists, our own and foreign victims of American imperialism; and the manifold forms of life victimized by the environmental policies by the real estate developer in the White House.
Pathetic and disgusting, the US, bragging all the way about its superior science and technology, has become the world's leading pandemic infection center. While government annually supplies billions for this research, any chamber of commerce backed county supervisor in the land can thug around his local public health department, if it dares to follow the public health guidelines set down by the state for the safety of its citizens. Business reopens, more people go to the hospital.
Well, if you're going to the hospital, would you rather it be for marching against racist, homicidal police or for going shopping?
Yahoo News Australia
'Suffering just starting': More pain predicted as US notches grim virus record
With protests taking over the streets and a federal election looming, coronavirus has been nudged from the headlines in the United States – but the country has surpassed another grim milestone.
The official US coronavirus count has topped 2 million, according to a rolling tally by Johns Hopkins University.
While experts say the real number is certain to be many multiples more, epidemiologists are warning that the country - which still has the most official cases in the world - should brace for more pain to come.
Across the country new infections are rising slightly after five weeks of declines as states emerge from lockdown.
Some states are worse than others. In California cases have yet to reach a plateau and have continued to trend up since the outbreak began, while Arizona has seen a large spike with hospitals reportedly at 83 per cent capacity on Wednesday (local time).
Meanwhile North Carolina has also seen a spike in hospitalisations in recent weeks that has reportedly left the White House worried.
Part of the broader increase across the country is due to more testing, which hit a record high on June 5 of 545,690 tests in a single day but has since fallen, according to the COVID-Tracking Project in the country.
Recent increases in cases are likely a result of more people moving about and resuming some business and recreational activities as all 50 states gradually reopen, while nationwide Black Lives Matter protests could also increase community transmission.
So far in June, there have been an average of 21,000 new cases a day compared with an average of 30,000 a day in April and 23,000 a day in May, according to a Reuters tally.
Total coronavirus-related deaths in the United States have surpassed 112,000, also a world-leading figure.
<img alt="Arizona is one a few US states that has seen a recent spike in cases and hospitalisations. Source: COVID-Tracker Project via New York Times" class="StretchedBox W(100%) H(100%) ie-7_H(a)" src="https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/c_idzJZDHZE8zwAtdHL28g--~A/YXBwaWQ9aGl... itemprop="url"/>
Arizona is one a few US states that has seen a recent spike in cases and hospitalisations. Source: COVID-Tracker Project via New York Times
US still a long way from natural herd immunity
Despite America’s unenviable position, Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota says things will get a whole lot worse for the country if a vaccine isn’t produced.
Medical experts say 60 per cent of a given population needs to be immune from a virus, either from a vaccine or through having antibodies from beating the disease, for that population to achieve so-called herd immunity.
“At most, perhaps five per cent of people have been infected,” Mr Osterholm told The Guardian.
“If all that pain, suffering and economic destruction got us to five per cent, what will it take to get us to 60 per cent? That’s a sobering thought. All of that suffering and death is just getting started. People haven’t quite got that yet.”
On May 12, the World Health Organisation (WHO) advised governments that before reopening, the rate of people testing positive for the coronavirus should remain at five per cent or lower for at least 14 days.
American fiasco': US hits grim milestone of 2m Covid-19 cases
Pandemic has devastated US, but experts warn lack of testing and early reopening mean ‘we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg’
For Americans, coronavirus went from being a mysterious affliction that occurred in far-off lands to 1m confirmed cases on US soil within 14 weeks. Now, just six weeks later, the US has broken through the grim milestone of 2m positive tests for Covid-19, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.
The anguish of life lost, of a severely wounded economy and wrenching political turmoil have taken a harrowing toll upon a fatigued American public. But further, perhaps far greater pain is yet to come, pandemic experts have warned, even as authorities wave people back into reopened shops and offices and the US president’s political rhetoric on an epochal crisis dwindles away to near silence.
“Everyone has just looked at the first 100 yards of this marathon,” said Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
Everyone has just looked at the first 100 yards of this marathonOsterholm said a society usually becomes resilient to a virus once at least 60% of the population has been infected, either naturally or via a vaccine, and develops antibodies. This is still a far-off point for the US, with no firm guarantee a working vaccine will ever be developed.
“At most, perhaps 5% of people have been infected,” he said. “If all that pain, suffering and economic destruction got us to 5%, what will it take to get us to 60%? That’s a sobering thought. All of that suffering and death is just getting started. People haven’t quite got that yet.”
The true figure of infection in the US is almost certainly “multiples more” than the 2m confirmed cases, said Irwin Redlener, the director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, but is obscured by the lack of testing.
Problems in developing and rolling out an effective test dogged the initial US response to the pandemic and although testing has now ramped up, only about 6% of the population has received one.
People with Covid-19 most likely experience either no noticeable symptoms or only minor symptoms such as a dry cough and mild fever.
“We are very much seeing only the proverbial tip of the iceberg,” said Redlener. “We are hampered by the lack of sufficient testing, especially as businesses are reopening across all 50 states.”
Deficiencies in the stockpile of testing kits, swabs, ventilators and protective equipment for medical staff marked the opening stanza of the pandemic in the US. It was a muddled and sometimes astonishing response embodied by Donald Trump, who predicted the virus would vanish in the April sunshine, squabbled with state governors and pondered the merits of injecting bleach or taking hydroxychloroquine, an unproven anti-malarial drug.
A nurse cleans personal protective equipment after being part of a team that treated a coronavirus in San Jose, California. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
“From the beginning there have been misrepresentations and fabrications from the White House,” said Redlener. “Whatever the opposite of ‘mission accomplished’ is, that’s what this is. It’s essentially been an American fiasco.”
Yet even as the US has surged past 100,000 deaths from Covid-19, about a quarter of the entire global total, the crisis has faded from the political agenda.
Trump, preoccupied with sending in the military to crush roiling anti-racism protests over the death of George Floyd, has stopped daily press conferences on the pandemic. Reopenings have been left down to the states, conducted in a somewhat haphazard way with at least a dozen states still experiencing rising rates of infections.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the administration’s top infectious disease expert, has admitted not seeing the president in weeks despite the ongoing public health crisis. “Where is it going to end? We’re still at the beginning of it,” Fauci said this week.
A disconcerting element of the crisis for epidemiologists is that so much about Covid-19 is still unknown. The World Health Organization had to clarify it still doesn’t know how often asymptomatic people pass on the virus, after previously saying it was very rare.
It’s not known why some people grouped together, such as meatpacking workers, have become infected at high rates while others, such as prisoners, haven’t to the same degree. There’s uncertainty over how the virus will react to the summer heat or how big a second or third wave of infections will be. Even the symptoms of the virus, previously thought to always include a fever and cough, have confounded previous expectations.
“There are a lot of things we just don’t know and we need a great deal of humility. We aren’t driving this tiger, we are riding it,” said Osterholm.
The decisions made as the virus rumbles on will invariably become as political and moral as they will scientific.
With more than 40 million people already out of work in the US amid an economic downturn that may rival anything seen in the past century, any escalation of lockdown to stop the spread of the virus will risk unbearable mental and financial pain. On the other extreme, attempting to revert to previous patterns of life without a vaccine would likely overwhelm hospitals with the sick and dying.
“We need to really thread the needle between those two things,” said Osterholm. “I worry we have passed over having that difficult conversation. We’ve already decided that it’s over and done with. It’s not.”