US coronavirus: some states revert to previous restrictions in hopes of curbing rising cases

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As the July 4 celebrations draw closer, officials are trying not to replay Memorial Day scenes, when thousands flocked to beaches, bars and parties, while experts warned that crowds could spike in cases. in the future.

Even states with low case counts have readjusted their reopening plans. On Monday, New Jersey decided not to resume indoor dining, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said a decision would be made on Wednesday whether New York City could resume indoor dining.

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The announcements come after a devastating week for the country, during which many states broke records of new confirmed cases in one day and the United States recorded a record of confirmed single-day cases with 40,173 reported on Friday. New cases are emerging particularly among young people in the south and west.

But those numbers may be just an idea of ​​how widespread infections really are: A survey by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the total number could be up to 24 times higher than reported.

The pandemic has changed lives everywhere, but no other country has seen as much disease and death as the United States. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the US accounts for about 4% of the world population, but accounts for a quarter of the reported cases and deaths in the world.

What happens next is unclear. Until a vaccine or treatment is widely available, public health experts have repeatedly lobbied for massive efforts in the name of the public good: social distancing, hand washing, wearing masks, testing, locating contacts, and quarantining the sick.
Local and state leaders have promised they will do whatever it takes to stay away from a second shutdown. But many failed to remove the option from the table.

The increase "will get worse for weeks"

Coronavirus cases increased in 31 states last week compared to the previous week.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar warned Sunday that the deadline to control the pandemic is fast closing.

US governors have partially attributed their increases to more widespread testing, but former CDC chief Dr. Tom Frieden said Sunday that even with more testing and better-prepared hospitals, "this virus is still has the advantage. "

The increase in cases across the South is a result of the reopening too quickly, Frieden said on "Fox News Sunday," adding that "it will continue to worsen for weeks."

And deaths will come, too, he said in a grim prediction that coronavirus deaths lag behind infection cases in about a month.

In the United States, 31 states saw an increase in new coronavirus cases last week compared to the previous week, primarily in the South and West.

A further 15 states held steady compared to the previous week, and only four states saw a decline: Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.

Problems with testing, contact tracing, and possible vaccination

The spike in cases comes when health experts have acknowledged that America's efforts to stop the virus have fallen short.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's leading infectious disease expert, told The Washington Post last week that "something is wrong" in the United States' testing strategy.

He suggested that the White House coronavirus task force is "seriously considering" group testing for Covid-19.

The group test works by mixing several samples in a "batch" or group, and then testing the pooled sample with a diagnostic test. If the combined test is negative, you have removed that group of people with one test. If you get a positive result, you can go back and evaluate people individually.
In addition to testing issues, the new data shows that states have invested little in contact tracing, which involves tracing all close contacts of an infected person to prevent further spread.
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In April, the National Association of County and City Health Officials estimated that communities would need 30 contact trackers for every 100,000 people.

But there are far fewer contact trackers than in eight states riddled with Covid-19 infections, according to new data obtained by CNN from Nephron Research, an independent healthcare research firm that has been monitoring contact tracking in all states. .

As of Monday, Florida has around seven tracers per 100,000, Texas has around 11 tracers per 100,000, and Arizona has around five tracers per 100,000.

Only six states have more than 30 contact trackers for every 100,000 residents, led by New York and North and South Dakota.

In New York, Governor Cuomo said the contact locator system had quickly identified case groups at a Westchester County graduation event, a Montgomery County aluminum factory, and an Oswego County apple packing plant .

"Thanks to our contact tracking program, we found these groups quickly, allowing us to address them immediately and help prevent the virus from spreading further," he said Friday.

When asked about the country's progress in contact tracing, Fauci was not impressed. "I don't think we are doing very well," he said.

Fauci also expressed skepticism that a moderately effective vaccine would stop the pandemic.

He said he would "settle" for a Covid-19 vaccine that is 70% to 75% effective, but that this incomplete protection, coupled with the fact that many Americans say they will not receive a vaccine, makes it "unlikely" that the United States will achieve sufficient levels of immunity to quell the outbreak.

Dr. Birx: Masks can partially protect you from infection

As communities grapple with how to move forward, another question: what about the masks?

Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, pressed Americans on Sunday to wear masks, saying the evidence not only suggests that the masks "prevent you from infecting others," but "may protect you as well. partly against infection. "

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The government has mentioned the possibility before, but has not made a point of emphasis. The CDC says that "cloth face liners are meant to protect others if the user is unknowingly infected but has no symptoms."

Birx also encouraged young people to wear masks when they go out, adding, "and if they are interacting with their parents and grandparents, they should also wear a mask because we now know how many of them are asymptomatic."

Vice President Mike Pence recommended that people wear masks when they cannot distance themselves socially. But he has refrained from requiring everyone to wear one and instead deferred to state and local leaders, who follow the example of President Donald Trump, who has steadfastly refused to wear a mask in public.

Still, the masked message may be coming. The city of Jacksonville, Florida, which plans to host a large Trump rally during the Republican National Convention in August, announced that it will require facial masks for public and indoor venues.

CNN's Artemis Moshtaghian, Jacqueline Howard and Wes Bruer contributed to this report.

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