New York – While coronavirus deaths in the United States are rising rapidly, public health experts are noticing a flurry of good news: The second jump in confirmed cases seems to be leveling off.
Scientists are not celebrating in any way, warning that the trend is driven by four major, severely affected locations ̵
Some experts are wondering whether the obvious improvements in workload will continue. It is also unclear when the deaths will begin. COVID-19 deaths do not follow a perfect step with the infection curve for the simple reason that it can take weeks for them to get sick and die from the virus.
The future? “I think it’s very difficult to predict,” said Dr. Anthony Foci, the government’s top infectious disease expert.
The virus has claimed more than 150,000 lives in the United States, by far the highest mortality rate in the world, plus more than half a million others worldwide.
Over the past week, the average number of deaths from COVID-19 per day in the United States rose by more than 25 percent, from 843 to 1,057. Florida reported another 253 deaths on Thursday, setting its third straight record in a day, while Texas has 322 new casualties and California 391.
The number of confirmed infections across the country has surpassed 4.4 million, which could be higher due to the limitations of the tests and because some people are infected without feeling sick.
In other developments:
– Concomitant damage from the virus, as the US economy shrank to a staggering 32.9% annual rate in the April-June quarter – by far the worst quarterly record in 1947. And more than 1.4 million laid-off Americans are claiming benefits for unemployment last week, another proof that employers are still abandoning jobs for five months in the crisis.
– Amid the outbreak and bad economic news, President Donald Trump has for the first time publicly surfaced the idea of delaying the November 3 presidential election, warning without evidence that increased mail voting will lead to fraud. Changing election day will require an act of Congress, and the notion has met with immediate resistance from senior Republicans and Democrats.
– Herman Kane, the former CEO of the pizza chain, who in 2012 unsuccessfully tried to become the first Black candidate to win the Republican nomination for president, died of complications from the virus at the age of 74.
Based on the seven-day moving average, daily US coronavirus cases fell from 67,337 on July 22 to 65,266 on Wednesday, according to data maintained by Johns Hopkins University. This is a decrease of about 3%.
Researchers prefer to see two weeks of data pointing in the same direction to tell if the trend is true. “But I think it’s real, yes,” said Ira Longhini, a biostatistician at the University of Florida who tracks the coronavirus and is a source of predictions for diseases used by the government.
The Associated Press found that the seven-day moving average for new cases paid for two weeks in California and decreased in Arizona, Florida and Texas.
Trends in Arizona, Texas and Florida are “starting to turn the curve a bit,” said Jennifer Nutzo, a public health researcher at Hopkins. So when these places make progress, the whole country looks better, she said.
In addition, with another possible hope, the percentage of tests that return positive for the virus in the United States has fallen from an average of 8.5% to 7.8% in the last week.
But as the outbreak in the Midwest heats up, the Democratic government of Wisconsin, Tony Evers, has ordered masks to be worn across the country, joining 30 other states that have taken such measures.
The latest jump in cases became apparent in June, weeks after states began to open up after a deadly explosion of cases in and around New York in early spring. The number of daily cases rose to 70,000 or more earlier this month. Deaths also began to rise sharply, a few weeks behind.
Some researchers believe that the recent equalization is the result of more people taking social distancing and other precautions.
“I think a lot of these are people who wear masks because they’re scared,” Longhini said.
But Dr. Ali Khan, dean of the University of Nebraska’s College of Public Health, said the trend could also be due to the natural dynamics of the virus, which scientists still don’t understand.
Without reliable tests and other measures to keep the virus under control, a third peak is possible – or even likely – given that so far only about 10% of Americans have been infected, experts said. And there is no reason to believe that the top cannot be bigger than the first two.
“This disease will continue to walk until it finds people who are more sensitive to tendons, like any good fire,” said Khan, a former leading researcher on infectious diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Foci said he was “somewhat comforted” by the recent plateau. But stabilizing the cases at around 60,000 is “still at a very high level”. He said he was also worried about the rising rate of tests returning positively in countries such as Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana.
“It’s a warning sign that you may notice a jump,” Foci said. “They really have to skip all that.”
The Associated Press’s Department of Health and Science is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Scientific Education. AP is fully responsible for all content.
Mike Stobbe and Nicki Forster, Associated Press
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