Does the spike in positive COVID test results indicate the virus is making a comeback?
- As of July 13, 2020, there are a reported 3.3M total confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States with 134,884 total deaths as of July 12.
- Over the last month, coronavirus cases have doubled, and hospitalizations have soared 88% in California.
- COVID-19 deaths are trending downwards as cases and hospitalization rates increase. Infectious disease experts say it is too early to celebrate the lower mortality rate we’ve seen in recent weeks.
- It takes between five days and two weeks for a person to develop symptoms after they’re infected. In most cases, it takes additional time for people to become so ill that they require hospitalization. It might then take days or weeks more before they die.
- Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said, 'I would say, this would not be considered a wave. It was a surge, or a resurgence of infections superimposed upon a baseline...that really never got down to where we wanted to go.'
The 'first wave' of the pandemic never ended in the U.S. In other countries, their first waves were met with strict lockdowns and were ultimately suppressed with the help of contact tracing. In the U.S., however, the virus has had a different trajectory. When the virus was suppressed in one region, it cropped up again in another. Rather than making a comeback, it seems the virus had never really gone away and is just resurging. In April, the pandemic hit New York notoriously hard, yet hospitalizations have slightly decreased since then. This gave the impression the pandemic was over, when in reality, it was spreading across the rest of the country. Now the nation's most hard-hit areas are the South and West, which are only now entering their 'first wave.'
When comparing the U.S. to the European Union, since they each share similar geographic size and population, we see that when the E.U. had individual outbreaks in its countries, they worked hard to suppress further spread. Now the E.U.'s overall cases have decreased. In the U.S., however, there was an initial peak driven by the Northeast region, which was partially suppressed, but has now been exceeded in size by the new cases in the West and South.
The U.S. is the hardest-hit country by the COVID pandemic, with nearly 3 million cases and tens of thousands more every day. The first wave was never fully suppressed nationwide, and the pandemic will continue to worsen unless the government undertakes a serious effort to stop it.
News of COVID-19 only seems to circulate headlines when it's convenient to scare citizens or shame Republican response. What news outlets don't cover is that even while they shift their focus to covering current protests, state governments continue to fight coronavirus. States have increased testing, ability to test, and are adjusting their response protocols.
The increase in positive COVID-19 cases may be a direct result of increased testing in general. CDC Director Robert Redfield stated the number of infected US citizens was likely '10 times as high as the 2.4 million confirmed cases, based on antibody tests [...] [which indicates] at least 24 million people have been infected so far.' Redfield also suspects around 5-8% of Americans had been infected, saying, 'Young people, many newly mobile after months of lockdowns, have been getting tested more often in recent weeks and driving the surge in cases in the South and West [...] in the past, I just don't think we diagnosed these infections.' As people go out and testing increases, we then see more positive cases.
Though, regardless of positive cases being up, deaths have steadily declined. 'Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have soared recently amid a massive testing increase in states across the country. But because the virus can be asymptomatic in up to 50% of people, the number of infected is likely far higher,' said Redfield. Many states have already succeeded in flattening the curve, and as young people are contracting it, natural herd immunity may be closer to achievement than originally thought. The virus may be spiking only because testing has increased, and reporting is flawed.