In several regions of the United States, the epidemic of COVID-19 seems to mark time, but California has again beaten a record of infections and experts warn that the severe shortage of tests prevents to predict when the pandemic will reach its ” peak “.
If one takes the official number of new cases detected, several States have halted the exponential increase that was observed in June, such as Arkansas, Iowa, North Carolina and the South, and Arizona, including the capital, Phoenix was a few weeks ago one of the homes of the more active circulation of the coronavirus in the country.
The repeat alerts to health officials, the closures of bars and local obligations of mask-wearing decided since June seem to bear fruit, although at the federal level, Donald Trump has waited for these last days, to worry publicly and say that wearing a mask was something ” patriotic “.
“This will probably, unfortunately, get worse before they get better “, he said on Tuesday.
Arizona gives hope. The number of new cases detected in the State’s south-west neighbour of California has certainly reached the 20 000 in the past week, but it was 11% less than the previous week, according to official statistics.
“Things are improving “, testified Thursday Matthew Heinz, a doctor in a hospital in Tucson, who credits the port mask, including a republican governor for a long time refractory. “A lot of people wear masks over a month ago “, said the doctor to the AFP.
Hospitalizations have significantly decreased since June.
On the whole of the country, the epidemic is far from contained. But the number of new cases has increased from 7% in a week, less than the +20% recorded in the previous weeks. The country has identified more than 60,000 new cases on a daily basis for nine days.
And the epidemic models predict, on average, a peak nationwide in the next four weeks, according to Nicholas Reich of the university of Massachusetts, which aggregates models from a score of research centres.
“The models respond to the slowdown observed in the increase in the number of cases in the past week “, said the biostatistician to the AFP.
It warns that we cannot be certain of having reached a turning point, because in places like Texas and Florida, people have to queue for hours for a test, and the results are three, four or seven days to be communicated, which blurs the real-time monitoring of the epidemic.
The stabilization is probably due in part to the congestion of tests, ” says Nicholas Reich.
The scientific consensus is that the wave of death follows three or four weeks the infections. The curve of the case is to rise again in mid-June, and that of the dead goes up moderately since early July with no sign of slowing down, reaching the last two days are a thousand dead.
Texas, California, Alabama, Idaho, have each announced Wednesday of records of death in 24 hours (for California, also a record of the number of new cases). Florida also on Thursday, with 173 deaths.
It is difficult to predict how far the dead will rise, because the mortality is not so strong as at the beginning of the pandemic, when doctors discovered a whole new disease. Today the two drugs have proved their effectiveness, the hospitals use the ventilators in more subtle ways, and patients are younger.
“But just as in April, stabilize is not enough: the goal is to remove, not just mitigate “, told AFP Thomas Tsai, a physician and researcher at Harvard.
Thomas Tsai is concerned to see other regions take up the slack, as the Missouri. The Mississippi river and Puerto Rico are also in full blast.
The error of the United States was to burn the stages of the déconfinement in may, and have reopened too soon, too fast, before the curve of the contagion is completely down as in Europe.
If a turning point was really reached this summer, Thomas Tsai insists that the country will have to have the patience to continue distancing physical port of the mask, and a proactive policy of testing, tracing of contact and isolation, things that have been neglected at the end of the spring.