CORONAVIRUS

United States reaches 2 million cases: when will the peak arrive?

The United States has seen more coronavirus cases than any other country and experts warn that they have not passed the first wave of the pandemic yet.

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United States reaches 2 million cases: when will the peak arrive?
William Volcov/ZUMA Wire/dpa William Volcov/ZUMA Wire/dpa

The United States has seen over 2,000,000 cases of the coronavirus since its first case back in January this year. 115,137 people have lost their lives to the virus during that time, which is the most for any country in the world. The country is reopening but several states have seen surges in their daily cases and deaths. The peak was thought to be back in April when over 2,500 people died in one day (April 21) but there are now fears of a second peak.

“In the US, we are lifting lockdowns when there are still increasing numbers of cases in a bunch of states … We may just have peaks and valleys of transmission occurring over and over again as people’s behaviour changes,” Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University, says.

New York is seeing a decrease in numbers but South Carolina, for example, just recorded the highest daily total since the pandemic began. Arizona has seen a surge and Texas also with the latter reporting over 2,500 cases on 10 June, its highest figure since the pandemic began also. 18 states in total are seeing increasing numbers of cases.

Another issue is the terminology used and how we see the virus. Nicholas Reich, a professor of biostatistics and epidemiology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, says between five and six thousand people will die in the United States from now until J4 July. His suggestion is that while talk turns to a second wave, the US has still not emerged from the first wave of the pandemic. The newness of the virus also makes it difficult to make predictions.

That is before the festivities of the 4 July begin. Many parades and events have been cancelled but plenty of family gatherings will take place. With the economy reopening and the focus in the media shifting, it seems people are getting more complacent over their role in the flatting of the curve.

A second wave of coronavirus

The guidelines remain the same. On an individual level, people are being told to continue to wear masks, wash your hands and avoid crowded, confined spaces. At a governmental level, the best way forward is to continue wide-scale testing and continue to improve contact tracing. That has been a point of contention in the states, however, with questions being asked over testing and the truth behind the statistics. Donald Trump says the US has tested more people than every other country combined. This is not true though.

Whether or not there is a second wave will depend on people's choices. The wearing of masks have been proven to work. Washing hands and disinfecting surfaces after use too with millions of people working remotely as well to avoid unnecessary contact with others. Whether we see a surge because of the complacency that is creeping in remains to be seen.