2nd wave coronavirus? No, the United States is still stuck in the first: plans

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People rest inside social distance markers at Domino Park in the Brooklyn neighborhood of New York in late May. New York home stay orders have helped lower the state’s “breeding number”, which estimates the number of people a sick person could infect with the coronavirus.

Michael Nagle / Xinhua News Agency / Getty Images

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Michael Nagle / Xinhua News Agency / Getty Images

People rest inside social distance markers at Domino Park in the Brooklyn neighborhood of New York in late May. New York home stay orders have helped lower the state’s “breeding number”, which estimates the number of people a sick person could infect with the coronavirus.

Michael Nagle / Xinhua News Agency / Getty Images

Within weeks of reopening parts of the United States, coronavirus infections are on the rise in several states, including Arizona, Utah, Texas and Florida. Dramatic increases in the number of daily cases have raised troubling questions: is the United States at the start of a second wave? Have the states reopened too early? And did the recent widespread protests against racial injustice unintentionally fuel the fire?

The short and unpleasant answer to the first question is that the United States has not even overcome the current first wave of infections. Since peaking at around 31,000 new cases per day on March 10, daily cases fell to around 22,000 new cases on average in mid-May and have remained almost stable over the past four weeks. Across the country, more than 800 people continue to die day after day.

Leading forecasters predict a slow but steady buildup of additional deaths by October 1 – an estimated 56,000, about 90,000 of them.

“We really never really finished the first wave,” says Dr. Ashish Jha, professor of global health at Harvard University. “And it doesn’t seem like we’re going there anytime soon.” ”

That said, forecasters say we may still be expected for a real second wave later in the year, citing growing evidence that colder weather could lead to more coronavirus cases.

Why we are stuck

So why is the United States stuck in a coronavirus platter despite months of widespread social distancing? To explain, it helps to get a little technical. The key indicator at issue is what is known as the coronavirus ‘breeding number’ – or R for short – essentially an indicator of the strength of the spread of the infection in your community. It tells you, for each person infected, how many other people that person will continue to infect. When the number of reproductions is greater than 1, the number of cases will increase exponentially. When it gets well below 1 and stays there, the epidemics subside.

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