The USA’s summer of coronavirus has ended with health officials very concerned.
Dubbed the “lost summer”, it unofficially came to an end on Monday (local time) with many big Labor Day gatherings cancelled across the country, and health authorities pleading with people to keep their distance from others so as not to cause another coronavirus surge like the one that followed the Memorial Day public holiday in May.
Many Labor Day parades marking the unofficial end of summer were called off, and masks were usually required at the few parades that went on.
“Please, please do not make the same mistakes we all made on Memorial Day weekend. Wear your masks, watch your distance and wash your hands,” urged Dr Raul Pino, state health director in Orange County, Florida.
The US had about 1.6 million confirmed COVID-19 cases around Memorial Day, before backyard parties and other gatherings contributed to a summertime surge. It now has more than 6.2 million cases.
Meanwhile deaths from the virus more than doubled over the summer to nearly 190,000.
Over the long weekend in the US just under 100,000 new coronavirus cases were recorded but authorities fear a new surge may follow the weekend’s festivities.
Ahead of the weekend, the country’s top coronavirus health official said backyard parties, crowded bars and other gatherings could cause the coronavirus to come surging back in the country that has failed to suppress its spread.
“I look upon the Labor Day weekend really as a critical point,” said Dr Anthony Fauci. “Are we going to go in the right direction and continue the momentum downward, or are we going to have to step back a bit as we start another surge?”
The warnings came as a widely cited model by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington projected a worsening outbreak in the US that will peak in early December at about 2,900 deaths per day, up from about 860 a day now, unless government officials take action.
Quarantine-weary Brazilians head to beaches despite warnings
North Americans weren’t the only ones enjoying the warm weather. Thousands in Brazil, now the third-worst hit country in terms of official cases, took to the beach over the weekend
Suellen de Souza could no longer endure the confinement. After six months of precautions, the Brazilian nursing technician decided that Sunday would be her first day at the beach since the pandemic began.
"This week it was very hot ... the truth is I really wanted to come" to the beach, the 21-year-old said.
The beach is technically still closed to sunbathers though few respect the prohibition and authorities seldom enforce it.
In crowded scenes on Sunday (local time), beachgoers were packed close together with few wearing face masks.
With tentative signs the coronavirus pandemic is easing, Brazilians exhausted with quarantine measures and social distancing are increasingly relaxing precautions and flooding beaches as if the pandemic was over.
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