States Enact New Rules To Combat COVID-19 Surge
The United States continues to face increasing numbers of coronavirus cases. Recently, the number of people infected with the disease passes 11 million, at the same time as state governments attempt to slow the virus’ spread with new restrictions.
The new high in cases happens less than a week after the country saw 10 million total cases, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. That leap was the largest in the US since the start of the pandemic. The university’s researches also share that all but five American states recorded more infections this week compared to the last.
Emergency medicine physician Dr Leana Wen shares that the US isn’t just facing a few hotspots around the country. Instead, she says, the entire country as a whole has become a coronavirus hotspot.
Data shows that even the state of Wyoming has suffered terribly from the spread of the disease. Recently, the state hospitalized 202 new coronavirus patients while 17 were reported to have passed away. These are new highs for the state in terms of hospitalizations and deaths during the pandemic.
Beyond Wyoming, the entire country has seen over 246,000 people die from the disease, with 1,266 deaths being the highest single-day figure seen so far.
Officials and experts continue to disagree on how to manage the situation. Some officials have increased restrictions while others argue that behavioral changes are more important.
Maintain Social Distancing and Keep to the Rules
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was quoted as saying that if people were much more cautious in their behaviors, the situation would improve drastically, even without a lockdown.
On the positive side, according to Mayor Garcetti, everyone is much more knowledgeable on how to handle the situation now. As a result, he adds, people get that a lockdown now may not be as effective as it was the first time around.
Mayor Garcetti points out that it’s not a question of whether stores stay open or not. Instead, he says, the behaviors of individuals are what matters when it comes to keeping people safe. So, if people don’t like shutdowns, Mayor Garcetti says that they should cancel any vacation plans and avoid sneaking into other households for Thanksgiving. In short, he says, don’t share air with other people and don’t do anything foolish.
New Rules Across Several States
As coronavirus cases continue to spread, several states are doing their best to fight the virus by setting up new rules. Some of them include:
- Washington state: New restrictions around businesses, religious services, and social activities.
- Michigan: Restrictions to business and social activities, while high schools and colleges will shift to online learning.
- Utah: A statewide mask mandate.
- Ohio: Existing mask mandates are made stricter for businesses.
- New Mexico: In-person services are banned for non-essential businesses.
- Maryland: The state is restricting restaurant indoor dining capacity to 50% from 75%.
- New York: At 10 pm daily, most restaurants and bars must close.
- Oregon: Indoor restaurant dining is closed, while social gatherings can only include six people at the most.
- The Navajo Nation: This Native American community is also enacting its own rules, with stricter measures that include virtual learning and closing non-essential government services.
In Michigan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer was quoted as saying that the country is facing the most terrible part of the pandemic so far. Governor Whitmer announced new restrictions targeting the winter months when the infection risk will be the highest as people gather indoors.
President of the Navajo Nation Jonathan Nez worries that their hospitals won’t be able to handle major increases in coronavirus patients. At this moment, he says, they are at the brink of a public health crisis within the Nation itself.
Hospitals are Struggling to Cope
The images of overwhelmed hospitals back in Spring and Summer are still fresh in the minds of most Americans. Those images pale in comparison to what might happen in the coming months. According to the Covid Tracking Project, America has already seen a new record-high number of hospitalized coronavirus patients. That new record? 69,466 patients.
At close to 70,000 patients, that new record is a huge leap from previous peaks in Spring (59,940 patients) in April and Summer (59,718) in July.
Currently, hospitals are struggling so much that medical workers without symptoms are sent to work around wards that house coronavirus patients. The simple truth is that there isn’t enough doctors or nurses to help out, so it’s an ‘all hands on deck’ type of situation.
At Brown University, emergency physician Dr Megan Ranney was quoted as saying that it’s common for healthcare workers these days to witness colleagues getting sick. She adds that everyone is terrified of what’s going on, and they’re both worn out and tired.
The situation is even worse for patients. Dr Ranney says many coronavirus patients can’t even visit with their family even to say goodbye. The only thing that anyone hears is the sound of the beeping ventilator that they use to keep patients alive for as long as possible. Dr Ranney highlights that hospitals aren’t just suffering because of the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to that, hospitals are also struggling to treat patients with other diseases like cancer and heart attacks.
Over at the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, Dr Peter Hotez who is also the Dean at the school reminds us that mask-wearing and social distancing will not be around forever. Therefore, he says, now is the time to follow those requirements instead of debating about it or defying orders on the matter.
Local Shutdowns are More Likely Than a National Lockdown
Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, predicts that local or state officials might order fresh lockdowns in some places if hospitals get overwhelmed. According to him, the likelihood of a national lockdown is low. However, Governors or Mayors might aim to take targeted approaches similar to lockdowns.
He points out that if the situation gets out of hand, that would require leaders to take more steps to respond than ever before.
Former commissioners of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Dr Scott Gottlieb and Dr Mark McClellan, believe that it’s up to local governors to control the spread of the virus. They highlight that the recent surge in coronavirus cases isn’t limited to certain regions based on season or climate; it’s widespread throughout the entire country.
According to them, previous coronavirus waves saw health-care workers deploying from less-affected areas to worst-off locations like New York and the South. However, they add, moving healthcare workers around in that way will not be possible if the whole country is a hotspot.
Drs Gottlieb and McClellan point out that so far the response to the coronavirus has been a collaboration between the Federal government and that of local states. However, they say, the White House changes its strategies during the most critical points of the pandemic. Therefore, the situation calls for leadership from governors, mayors, and administrations more than ever before.
The two doctors point to governors and local leaders reinforcing any rules that have already proven to be effective. Those include wearing masks, avoiding gatherings, and maintaining social distancing, particular indoors. As examples, they point to Halloween gatherings being a major contributor and warns of the same for Thanksgiving.
Double-threat: Flu Season and the Pandemic
As mentioned before, hospitals are coping with more than just the coronavirus; they also have to take care of patients with other diseases. As the colder months approach, that will also include the flu which, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say caused 400,000 hospitalizations and 22,000 deaths in the US during the previous season. US Surgeon General Dr Jerome Adams tells us that the flue and coronavirus both cause similar symptoms. However, he warns, the one difference in symptoms is the loss of taste or smell, which people should never take lightly.
What do you do if you experience that symptom? Dr Adams says to contact your health care provider as soon as possible to arrange for a coronavirus test. In addition to that, he also recommends getting the flu shot for the year, and to avoid any self-diagnosing. Referring to a healthcare provider is always best to get clear and quick answers.
Lastly, he reminds people that the coronavirus is much more infectious than the flu and can cause more severe illnesses in some people. As we can see from headlines and warnings over the past few months, those in the higher age-ranges with certain pre-existing conditions are at a higher risk when it comes to the coronavirus. Therefore, it’s not something to be taken lightly at all.
At George Washington University, Professor of Medicine Dr Jonathan Reiner also echoes Dr Adams’ point that flu and coronavirus symptoms are very similar. Therefore, he says, you shouldn’t go to work or school if you think you have the flu, because that could actually be the coronavirus. Instead, he says, you should quarantine and get a coronavirus test to rule it out.