WASHINGTON: From the primary known patient in late January to now over 100,000 infected, the us has earned the unwanted distinction of leading the planet in confirmed coronavirus cases.
Close to 1,500 people have succumbed to the COVID-19 illness -- though for now the death rate remains far less than Italy and a number of other European countries.
How did we get here? And what happens next?
Public health experts say that while we've yet to hit the height of the US epidemic, there are several reasons why the COVID-19 disease has exploded in America.
Early on within the outbreak, President Donald Trump was accused of downplaying its severity, saying that sustained community spread wasn't "inevitable" even after a senior health official said it had been , which could have led to a way of complacency.
As the illness took root, first within the West Coast states of Washington and California, the US was unable to perform meaningful levels of contact tracing because it had been so slow off the mark with testing.
The government initially refused to relax regulatory hurdles that might have allowed states and native health departments to develop their own test kits supported guidelines provided by the planet Health Organization, and every one early samples were being sent to the headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.
Then the CDC sent out faulty test kits to the states, adding to delays.
It was not until leap day , the date of the primary US death and quite a month after the primary confirmed US case, that the govt lifted its ban. The private sector entered later, adding to capacity.
"If we could have done contact tracing, we'd have found tons more cases quickly and pack up the hotspots," Gabor Kelen, director of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, told AFP.
US officials have defended their response, repeatedly asserting that tests developed by South Korea -- which is seen as an example of best practice for its aggressive early testing -- sometimes produced false positives.
Kelen disagreed thereupon reasoning.
"One thing I teach my residents: Something is best than nothing, sooner is best than later, and if one test is sweet , two are better. So let's get thereto -- perfect is that the enemy of excellent ," he said.
Densely populated ny has emerged because the US epicenter of the outbreak, with almost 45,000 cases as of Friday -- about half the US total -- and over 500 deaths.
Neighboring New Jersey follows, then California and Washington state, then Michigan and Illinois within the Midwest, with clusters focused in major cities.
States or areas that have yet to experience surges shouldn't be complacent, said Thomas Tsai, a general surgeon and professor of health policy at Harvard.
"The us isn't one monolith, there are 50 different states with different government responses from governors and state public health departments," he told AFP.
"I think what's needed may be a truly national coordinated effort," said Tsai, warning that continuing with a "patchwork response" on people's movements would cause other states seeing the kinds of surge experienced in places like ny .
As of Friday afternoon, 61 percent of the US population of 330 million was called to lockdown, meaning 39 percent isn't .
One relative bright spot has been that the deathrate within the US supported confirmed cases has remained relatively low thus far -- 1.5 percent, compared to 7.7 percent in Spain and 10 percent in Italy.
Will this trend continue? The short answer is we do not know, and therefore the experts are divided.
"Low CFR (case fatality rate) isn't reassuring," David Fisman, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, told AFP.
"It will rise because it takes people time to die. My best guess is that the US is on the cusp of an absolutely disastrous outbreak."
The experts agreed that nationwide social distancing measures were urgently needed to still attempt to "flatten the curve" -- slowing the speed of infection in order that hospitals aren't overrun, because the case is currently in ny .
But from a scientific point of view, the pathogen could "down mutate" and subsided virulent as time goes on, said Kelen, as similar viruses typically do.
The heat and humidity of summer could also slow its spread, experts have said.
Forecasters at the University of Washington's School of drugs believe the height of the outbreak may are available mid-April.
The number of deaths would keep rising on the other hand plateau at over 80,000 by July.
Their model suggests 38,000 deaths at the lower end and 162,000 at the upper end.
By way of comparison, influenza killed 34,000 people within the 2018-2019 flu season.
Credit / Source : TOI