Decreased testing and increased mandates are some of the factors affecting the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., which has shown a sustained drop in cases in the past week at roughly 50,000 new cases per day.
That’s a drop from the July 24 high of nearly 80,000, when cases skyrocketed in the Sun Belt states. Meanwhile, cases are still fluctuating, with more than 1,000 deaths reported on each of the past two days. Experts have likened the pandemic to the 1918 flu, with regard to the deadliness of the novel coronavirus.
But positivity rates in states like Texas are on the rise, spurring concern for the nation’s top disease expert.
In an interview with National Geographic Thursday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he is not pleased with the current trend.
“We are in the middle of a very serious historic pandemic. The numbers speak for themselves. We’re starting to see an inkling in the upticks on the tests that are positive,” Fauci said, explaining that is a signal of another surge.
Fauci added that the country did not come together with universal strategies like European countries did.
“Bottom line is, I’m not pleased with how things are going,” he said.
Meanwhile, in the Northeast, plans for school re-openings and more relaxed social rules are under way. New York City announced schools would be back in-person for the upcoming year. The city said it is working with the local health department to ensure at least one certified nurse is in every public school building, according to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio in a press briefing Thursday.
As with every school year, flu season is also around the corner, and concerns about the double-whammy on emergency rooms around the country abound. It is why health officials have been tirelessly pushing for greater flu vaccination adherence for the upcoming season, especially as the coronavirus is likely to rebound in the colder months.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Dr. Robert Redfield told WebMD the next round of coronavirus in the fall could be the worst the country has seen.
“This is the greatest public health crisis to hit this nation in a century,” he said. “We were underprepared.”
But others, like billionaire philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, recently said the world will likely “get out of [the virus] by the end of 2021,” the year “we should be able to manufacture a lot of vaccines.”
Meanwhile, Americans are waiting for more relief from a new stimulus bill that has been held up in Congress, and companies are hoping for additional federal aid that has dried up.
Distribution of vaccines
While there is increasing momentum behind antibody therapies which will act as bridges to an actual vaccine, some wonder what happens after a successful vaccine is approved.
Generally, experts agree that the health sector and other essential workers should receive the first round of vaccines. But even within those sectors there will need to be priorities.
Bioethicist Dr. Arthur Caplan, a professor at NYU Langone Medical Center, pointed out that health care systems are large and complex, and typically employ tens of thousands of people— down to transporters and those charged with cleaning the health facilities.
Caplan added that the federal government is likely to play a large role in distribution of a vaccine because it is pouring money into the development of COVID-19 vaccines and acquiring of doses via a public-private partnership called Operation Warp Speed. The government has already spent more than $8 billion on OWS, alone.
“The overall economic image of the virus is so bad that what looks like big money is not” by comparison, Caplan said.
In addition, he said, it’s politically easier to focus on a vaccine because it’s something the federal government can control, rather than rely on behavioral changes like wearing a mask.
More from Anjalee: