COVID-19: We Really Have Given Up

And the rest of the world feels sorry for us.

In Countries Keeping The Coronavirus At Bay, Experts Watch U.S. Case Numbers With Alarm, Washington Post, 19 June 2020

US population: 328 million
EU population: 446 million

As coronavirus cases surge in the U.S. South and West, health experts in countries with falling case numbers are watching with a growing sense of alarm and disbelief, with many wondering why virus-stricken U.S. states continue to reopen and why the advice of scientists is often ignored.

“It really does feel like the U.S. has given up,” said Siouxsie Wiles, an infectious-diseases specialist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand — a country that has confirmed only three new cases over the past three weeks and where citizens have now largely returned to their pre-coronavirus routines.

“I can’t imagine what it must be like having to go to work knowing it’s unsafe,” Wiles said of the U.S.-wide economic reopening. “It’s hard to see how this ends. There are just going to be more and more people infected, and more and more deaths. It’s heartbreaking.”

Meanwhile, President Trump maintains that the United States will not shut down a second time, although a surge in cases has persuaded governors in some states, including Arizona, to back off their opposition to mandatory face coverings in public.

Commentators and experts in Europe, where cases have continued to decline, voiced concerns over the state of the U.S. response. A headline on the website of Germany’s public broadcaster read: “Has the U.S. given up its fight against coronavirus?” Switzerland’s conservative Neue Zürcher Zeitung newspaper concluded, “U.S. increasingly accepts rising covid-19 numbers.”

“The only thing one can say with certainty: There’s nothing surprising about this development,” a journalist wrote in the paper, referring to crowded U.S. beaches and pools during Memorial Day weekend in May.

Meanwhile, several U.S. states have reopened despite rising case numbers.

“I don’t understand that logic,” said Reinhard Busse, a health-care management professor at the Technical University of Berlin.

Lauterbach said that even though most Germans disapproved of Trump before the pandemic, even his staunchest critics in Germany were surprised by how even respected U.S. institutions, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, struggled to respond to the crisis.

The CDC, for instance, initially botched the rollout of test kits in the early stages of the outbreak.

“Like many other aspects of our country, the CDC’s ability to function well is being severely handicapped by the interference coming from the White House,” said Harvard epidemiologist Lipsitch. “All of us in public health very much hope that this is not a permanent condition of the CDC.”

Some observers fear the damage will be difficult to reverse. “I’ve always thought of the CDC as a reliable and trusted source of information,” said Wiles, the New Zealand specialist. “Not anymore.”

Remember, the CDC and the Surgeon General told us NOT to wear masks early on (changing their mind in April), saying masks were ineffective against reducing transmission and that they could, in fact, increase our risk of getting it because we didn’t know how to wear one.

Two things to add:

1. A study showed that 66% of people who tested positive for COVID but were asymptomatic had lung damage.
2. Antibody immunity may only last 2 or 3 months (which makes “immunity passports and possibly vaccines useless).

I feel sorry for us too.

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