The US has ‘way too much virus’ as coronavirus cases rise nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of CDC, explained that the coronavirus is spreading too quickly and too broadly for the US to be able to manage the outbreak.
The country has hit records for new infections in recent days as coronavirus cases increase mostly across the South and West. In the US, the recent surge in new coronavirus cases has exceeded daily infections in April when the virus spread into Washington state and the northeast, and when public officials perceived the outbreak reaching its peak in the US.
“We’re not in the situation of New Zealand or Singapore or Korea where 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,” she said in an interview with The Journal of the American Medical Association’s Dr. Howard Bauchner.
“We have way too much virus across the country for that right now, so it’s very discouraging,” she added.
New Zealand’s outbreak peaked in early April, when the country reported 89 new cases in a single day, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. On June 8, officials declared that there no more active infections in the island country of almost 5 million.
“This is really the beginning,” Schuchat said of the U.S.’s recent surge in new cases. “I think there was a lot of wishful thinking around the country that, hey it’s summer. 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.”
“What we have in the United States, it’s hard to describe because it’s so many different outbreaks,” Schuchat said. “There was a wave of incredible acceleration, intense interventions and control measures that have brought things down to a much lower level of circulation in the New York City, Connecticut, New Jersey area. But in much of the rest of the country, there’s still a lot of virus. And in lots of places, there’s more virus circulating than there was.”
She pointed out that the coronavirus has turned out to be the kind of virus that she and her colleagues always feared would happen. She noted that its transmission happens fast, and no one appears to have immunity to it, adding that it is “stealthier than we were expecting.”
“While you plan for it, you think about it, you have that human denial that it’s really going to happen on your watch, but it’s happening,” she said. “As much as we’ve studied [the 1918 flu pandemic], I think what we’re experiencing as a global community is really bad and it’s similar to that 1918 transformational experience.”
With the current state of the US, Schuchat said the public must “expect this virus to continue to circulate.” She recommends social distancing, mask wearing, and washing their hands.
“We can affect it, but in terms of the weather or the season helping us, I don’t think we can count on that,” she said.