CDC Warns That Recent Coronavirus Surge Is "Really the Beginning"
Deputy Director Anne Schuchat said on Monday that "wishful thinking" hasn't stopped the spread.
As the U.S. continues to struggle against the coronavirus, health officials have issued several warnings that matters are only expected to get worse. On Monday, deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Anne Schuchat, MD, addressed the rapidly rising number of new cases in an interview with editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association, Howard Bauchner, MD. With reopening in several states resulting in spikes that outpace the virus' earlier peak, Schuchat explained why "this is really just the beginning" in term's of the country's COVID-19 battle.
"I think there was a lot of wishful thinking around the country that, 'Hey, it's summer,'" she said, per reporting by CNBC. "'Everything's going to be fine. We're over this.' And we are not even beginning to be over this. There are a lot of worrisome factors about the last week or so."
On June 26, the U.S. recorded over 46,000 new coronavirus cases, shattering the record of the previous peak, which occurred in April. States including Florida, California, Arizona, and Texas have either slowed or reversed their reopening plans, as the easing of restrictions has led to state daily records and concerns about hospital bed capacity.
According to Schuchat, the volume of cases in the U.S. rules out the methods of detection and containment that have helped other countries keep their infection rates low. In New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea, she said, "a new case is rapidly identified and all the contacts are traced and people are isolated who are sick and people who are exposed are quarantined and they can keep things under control." Since April, New Zealand has been able to keep its daily number of new cases in the single digits, marking several days with zero new coronavirus diagnoses. South Korea hasn't seen more than 100 new cases in a day since the end of March. Singapore's numbers are still in the hundreds, but that's down from a peak of over 1,400 in late April.
However, the U.S. is too far gone for effective tracing—which those countries credit for their success—at this point. There are also too many individual outbreaks to chase down, whereas other countries have been able to pinpoint distinct locations where a spreading event occurred.
"We have way too much virus across the country for that right now," Schuchat reasoned. "So it's very discouraging."
The CDC official also observed that it does not appear that the population is building up any immunity to coronavirus, meaning that any assumption that COVID-19 will soon run its course is likely incorrect. Its resiliency and adaptability make it the type of infectious disease that people in her position most fear, she explained. Looking back in our history, it does compare to another deadly global event.
"As much as we've studied [the 1918 influenza pandemic], I think what we're experiencing as a global community is really bad," Schuchat said, "and it's similar to that 1918 transformational experience." And for more on what experts want you to know, the Former CDC Director Just Issued This Grim COVID-19 Warning.