The vast majority of Americans are willing to endure economic losses in the service of continued social distancing initiatives. This was true back in April, and the consensus has only strengthened since then.
Some states enforce layered interventions, some establishments within those states adhere to them, and others maintain skepticism with respect to disease severity and even the existence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that staffs it.
In fairness, not all mass events yield dramatic consequences. There has been very little evidence to suggest that allowing children to return to school results in communal outbreaks. However, the same can not be said of indoor dining or university attendance.
For a long time, increased countermeasures seemed to see coronavirus cases plateau as oppose to meaningfully decline. And even though recent data suggests that infected US populations are evidencing lower viral loads and mortality rates, individual states are intermittently experiencing re-occurring waves of transmission.
“A single and coordinated strategy might have brought us to a different place,” Dr. Jon Samet, dean of the Colorado School of Public Health said in a recent statement. “Even within some states, counties may proceed independently. There is wide variation in the credence given to misinformation, some sourced from the Administration, and even the President.”
Nearly 10 months since SARS-CoV-2 penetrated the US, southern states are once again undergoing alarming outbreaks, while Wisconsin, Minnesota the Dakotas, Utah, and Wyoming are causing cases to surge throughout the Mid-west.
New York is in a similar boat, with rising case numbers ahead of plans to re-open indoor dining with limited capacity. The Bay Area is reportedly seeing a significant uptick in hospitalizations.
In response to emerging second waves, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published an updated risk assessment. In it, the organization cautioned against re-opening dining establishments without restrictions, which Florida intends on doing.
Remember, the novel coronavirus is the most stable in cold temperatures. The pathogen is believed to thrive at 4°C. At this temperature, its fomites are even detectable after two weeks.
Although the seasonal suppression theory did not pan out flawlessly, it certainly helped contain outbreaks in areas adhering to public health guidelines.
In a recent analysis, Qasim Bukhari and Yusuf Jameel, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, analyzed global cases of COVID-19 and found that 90% of infections are transmitted in areas that are between 37.4 and 62.6 degrees Fahrenheit (three to 17 degrees Celsius) and with an absolute humidity of four to nine grams per cubic meter g/m3 (which is a calculation of moisture in the air irrespective of temperature.)
A few months before winter, there are currently 3,000 US provinces that report daily positive cases.
Slowing an outbreak
According to leading infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, there are “three or four or five very simple tools that could have a major impact on turning around the outbreak.”
“Wearing a mask is definitely one of them, as is physical distancing, as is avoiding crowds, as is closing bars, as is washing your hands. I’m pleading with people to consider doing this consistently because, you’re right, if half of the people don’t do it, it kind of negates the overall purpose.”
If Singapore is any indication, it is possible to allow free up markets important to economic recovery and successfully flatten the coronavirus’s exponential growth curve.
“Given that these are rural areas, behaviors of individuals are likely to be a dominant driver: not adhering to distancing and not wearing masks,” Dr. Samet concludes. “Checking across mask orders in these states, there is a wide range. I suspect adherence to use of masks is lower in these rural counties than in urban areas, as in Colorado by anecdotal reports. We are concerned that there could be a holiday spike with severity depending on where the epidemic curve is positioned before the start of the season in later November.”