The coronavirus pandemic has replaced the presidential election in the news headlines as infections in the U.S. spiral out of control. On Friday and Saturday, confirmed cases exceeded 350,000 while more than 2,600 people succumbed to the virus.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. has reported more than 100,000 new Covid-19 cases for 12 consecutive days. There are now almost 11 million confirmed cases and over 245,000 deaths in the U.S.
Health experts paint a grim picture for the coming months, predicting the worse is yet to come as many hospitals nationwide are overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients. Without a coordinated effort from the federal level, several leading epidemiologists and virologists stress the importance of every citizen taking safety precautions – mask wearing in public spaces, physical distancing, handwashing and limiting gatherings – to curb the spread.
In a statement over the weekend, President-elect Joe Biden expressed his alarm at the surge in infections, hospitalizations and fatalities. “This crisis demands a robust and immediate federal response which has been woefully lacking,” Biden said. “I am the president-elect but will not be president until next year. COVID-19 does not respect dates on the calendar, it is accelerating right now. Urgent action is needed today, now, by the current administration.”
The Trump administration is tuning out the growing pandemic. In January, President-elect Biden will have to quickly decide if his administration will implement a short-term national lockdown to control the pandemic.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC
Twenty-eight employees of the election board in Jackson County, Missouri have tested positive for the coronavirus in recent weeks. Most of those infected are improving and recovering at home, but two part-time workers are hospitalized, including one in intensive care. Health officials in the county, which includes Kansas City, do not believe voters were at risk of infection since their contact time with poll workers was short and mask and social distancing mandates were in place.
A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that temperature and coronavirus symptom checks, like the ones used at schools and doctor’s office, have proven inadequate for preventing infection or the spread of the virus.
The study of Marine recruits found that despite these measures – including mask wearing, physical distancing, training outdoors and strict quarantines before they started training – outbreaks occurred. None of the infections were caught through symptom screening.
The results of the study have implications for colleges, prisons, meatpacking plants and other businesses that rely on screenings to diagnose infections and prevent outbreaks. Researchers stress the use of a combination of effective public health measures, temperature checks, mask wearing, social distancing, hand washing and comprehensive testing to curb the spread of the virus.