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July 23, 2020

Why there's 'no end in sight' for the coronavirus pandemic, according to Fauci

Daily Briefing

    Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on Wednesday said he does "not see any particular end in sight" to the coronavirus pandemic, as new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths related to the coronavirus continue to climb and strain hospitals throughout the United States.

    Is it time to shut down—again? Some states should 'seriously' consider it, Fauci says.

    US new coronavirus cases near 4M, deaths top 143K

    U.S. officials as of Thursday morning had reported 3,980,100 total cases of the new coronavirus since the country's epidemic first began—up from 3,910,300 cases reported as of Wednesday morning.

    Data from the New York Times shows that Puerto Rico; the U.S. Virgin Islands; Washington, D.C.; and 39 states saw their average daily numbers of newly reported coronavirus cases rise over the past 14 days: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

    California on Wednesday surpassed New York as the state that has reported the most coronavirus cases since America's epidemic began. California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Wednesday said state officials had reported 12,807 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours, marking a new record-high single-day increase for the state and bringing the state's total number of reported cases to 413,576.

    Meanwhile, the New York Times' data shows that the average daily numbers of newly reported coronavirus cases over the past two weeks remained mostly stable in Guam and nine states: Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, South Dakota, Utah, and Vermont.

    Arizona and Delaware saw their average daily numbers of newly confirmed cases decrease over the past 14 days, according to the New York Times' data.

    While growth in America's national coronavirus-related death rate declined in June, data has shown that rate's been rising in recent weeks.

    According to the New York Times, Puerto Rico and 26 states saw their average daily numbers of newly reported deaths linked to the coronavirus rise over the past 14 days: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.

    For the second day in a row, U.S. officials on Wednesday reported more than 1,100 new deaths linked to the coronavirus, as Alabama, California, Nevada, and Texas each reported record single-day increases in their numbers of coronavirus-related deaths, Reuters reports.

    Overall, officials as of Thursday morning had reported 143,167 U.S. deaths linked to the new coronavirus—up from 142,031 deaths reported as of Wednesday morning.

    Covid-19 hospitalizations continue to near previous peak, straining hospitals

    As America's coronavirus epidemic has resurged, the number of U.S. patients hospitalized for Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, has grown and is nearing the epidemic's previous peak of 59,940 patients, which occurred on April 15, the New York Times reports. As of Wednesday, hospitals throughout the country were treating a total of 59,628 patients for Covid-19, according to data from The Atlantic's Covid Tracking Project.

    In California, officials in recent days have been reporting record or near-record increases in the state's numbers of patients hospitalized for Covid-19. For example, data from the California Department of Public Health showed that, as of Tuesday, there were a total of 7,170 hospitalized patients with confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the state, including 2,058 patients in ICUs, the Los Angeles Times reports.

    The surge in Covid-19 patients is continuing to strain hospitals in several states. According to an analysis of data from the Covid Tracking Project and the Harvard Health Institute by Axios, Arizona's hospitals as of Saturday were treating the most Covid-19 patients when compared with other states, with Covid-19 patients occupying 24.4% of the state's hospital beds. The situations were similar, according to Axios' analysis, in: Texas, where Covid-19 patients occupied 19.1% of hospital beds in the state; Nevada, where Covid-19 patients occupied 18.6% of the state's hospital beds; and Florida, where Covid-19 patients occupied 18% of the state's hospitals beds. In addition, some ICUs in parts of Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, and Texas had reached their full capacities, Axios reports.

    Frank Torres, the emergency management coordinator for Texas' Willacy County, told the New York Times, "Our hospitals are maxed out. They are at 100% capacity." Torres said paramedics and patients in some instances are having to wait in ambulances for hours before they can get into hospitals—and once they make it inside, patients have to wait in hallways for beds to open up.

    "It's just an overwhelming mess," he said.

    George Monks, president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, said, "Houston hospitals are calling Oklahoma hospitals trying to place their sick patients," but "[t]here is just no pool of doctors and nurses available that we can hire to come in and help."

    Medical facilities also continue to grapple with shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff, and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Pete Gaynor on Wednesday told House lawmakers that the United States has "a ways to go on making sure we have enough PPE." He explained, "This is not as simple as just throwing a light switch and we just magically make more."

    However, Gaynor said the United States is in a better place than it was "60 days ago" when it comes to PPE supplies, and many states now have stockpiles of PPE that could last from 60 to more than 90 days.

    Fauci says he doesn't expect coronavirus will be eradicated

    Separately, Fauci during a panel hosted by the nonprofit TB Alliance on Wednesday said he doesn't think the novel coronavirus will ever be completely eradicated, given the pathogen's unique characteristics.

    He explained, "I have never seen infection in which you have such a broad range" of symptoms, from "literally no symptoms at all in a substantial proportion of the population to some who get ill with minor symptoms to some who get ill enough to be in bed for weeks" and "[o]thers [who] get hospitalized, require oxygen, intensive care, ventilation, and death." He added, "The involvement with the same pathogen is very unique."

    Further, Fauci expressed doubt that the global coronavirus pandemic will cease any time soon. "It's the perfect storm," he said. "We often talk about outbreaks and pandemics, be they influenza or other pathogens, that have to have a few characteristics that make them particularly formidable. Well, this particular virus has that."

    Fauci added, "We are living, right now, through a historic pandemic outbreak. And, we are, right now, in a situation where we do not see any particular end in sight."

    However, Fauci said transmission of the novel coronavirus likely can be brought down to lower levels.

    "I think with a combination of good public health measures, a degree of global herd immunity and a good vaccine, which I do hope and feel cautiously optimistic that we will get, I think when we put all three of those together, we will get control of this," he said, though he noted, "[W]hether it's this year or next year. I'm not certain" (Shumaker, Reuters, 7/22; Money, Los Angeles Times, 7/22; Bogel-Burroughs/Mervosh, New York Times, 7/22; Herman/Witherspoon, Axios, 7/20; O'Reilly, Axios, 7/23; Lovelace, CNBC, 7/22; New York Times, 7/23; Sullivan, The Hill, 7/22).

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