Across Europe, COVID-19 cases have been spiking in recent weeks. In order to safeguard their citizens, countries like France and Germany have imposed new lockdown measures. Across the pond in the United States, leaders are stubbornly refusing to do the same even as the country sees some of the worst numbers of the pandemic.
Merkel: We Must Act Now
Per NBC News, “[Angela] Merkel and the country’s 16 state governors, who are responsible for imposing and easing restrictions, agreed on the partial lockdown in a videoconference Wednesday. It is set to take effect Monday and last until the end of November.
Merkel said, ‘We must act, and now, to avoid an acute national health emergency.’
Shops and schools are to remain open, unlike during Germany’s shutdown during the first phase of the pandemic in March and April. Restaurants will be able to provide take-out food.
Merkel appealed to people not to make unnecessary journeys and said hotels won’t be able to accommodate people on tourist trips.”
Germany has seen nearly 15,000 new cases a day in recent days, and the national total of those struck by the pandemic nears 450,000. The country of 83 million has done relatively well in terms of keeping the virus under control. Now, however, they see case numbers exploding in neighboring countries and worry that they will soon struggle to control numbers within Germany’s border.
Per NBC, “‘We can say that our health system can cope with the challenge today,’ Merkel said. ‘But if the pace of infections continues like this, then we’ll reach the limits of what the health system can manage within weeks.'”
France: Overpowered By a Second Wave
NBC reports in France, “…Wednesday, President Emmanuel Macron announced a second lockdown in France that will begin on Friday to try to combat a strong resurgence of the coronavirus within the country.
More than half of France’s intensive care units are already occupied by COVID-19 patients. French military and commercial planes are ferrying critically ill virus patients to other regions as hospitals fill up and French doctors have called on the government to impose a new nationwide lockdown.
‘(France has been) overpowered by a second wave,’ Macron said in a national televised address Wednesday. The government is scheduled to lay out further details of the new lockdown on Thursday.”
US Defiantly Stays Open as Virus Unsurprisingly Unintimidated By Bravado
Across the pond in the United States, numbers are spiking as well. But here, leaders are playing a different tune. Desperate to keep his citizens safe, AP reports on the efforts of Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, and others, as a defiant Federal government continues to tout inaction. Per AP, “In the U.S., where practically every state is seeing a rise in cases, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers of hard-hit Wisconsin has been reduced to pleading with people to stay home, after an order he issued in the spring was overturned by the courts. Illinois’ governor banned indoor dining and drinking in Chicago this week. Other states are likewise considering reimposing restrictions.”
But in Washington, the administration of President Donald J Trump continues to crow that the virus is improving, and that soon it will be gone. In Wisconsin this week, the same state where Evers is fighting so hard to keep people alive, Trump told a rally packed elbow to elbow with unmasked supporters that the virus was on it’s way out.
Per ABC, Trump said, “We’re rounding the turn, we’re rounding the corner..it’s going away.” However, last Friday, coronavirus cases in the US beat the record of most new cases in a single day, eclipsing those from the summer spike. Over 84,000 new cases were reported that day, which sounds like far from, “turning the corner.”
Experts in the US Worry
According to AP, “Wisconsin, one of the worst hot spots of them all, set records Tuesday for the number of daily infections at nearly 5,300 and deaths with 64. About 12% of the state’s intensive care beds were available on Tuesday, according to the Wisconsin Hospital Association.
‘It is absolutely exhausting right now,’ said Dr. Jeff Pothof, chief quality officer at UW Health, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s hospital and medical arm. Nearly a third of its COVID-19 patients are in intensive care, filling all three wings of the ICU, he said. Some require one-on-one care around the clock.
‘We’re throwing everything we’ve got at them to keep them alive,’ he said.
The hospital has started training doctors and nurses in dealing with the virus and is trying to persuade retired physicians to return to work, he said. Pothof said he is working 12- to 15-hour days himself and is constantly on call.
In the Northeast, which seemed to have brought the virus under control over the summer, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo said the state is seeing record numbers of new infections and might have to bring back restrictions on businesses that were loosened months ago.
‘We’re in a bad place. This data is not encouraging. It’s headed in the wrong direction in every metric,’ she said.”
United States Will Face a Reckoning
Although federal leadership continues to be weak on the coronavirus, eventually the most stubborn virus-deniers will soon have to recognize the gravity of the situation. With cases rising everywhere and deaths creeping back up as resources began to be spread thin, even the advancements in therapeutics and knowledge of the virus will make little difference.
At some point, the US will have to reckon with it’s failure to try to contain the virus. Trump administration officials have suggested in recent days that non-containment is their intention and that they hope to achieve herd immunity by letting the virus infect as many health people as possible. That’s proven to be a disaster in other countries with comparable technology, and countries that impose strict lockdowns have shown an ability to wrest the virus under control. With the election 5 days away, Election Day is sure to be a referendum on the Trump administration’s handling of the virus. With cases climbing by the day, Trump and his associates can only play positive for so long.