Tuesday, June 30, 2020

'We are getting clobbered': Six months into COVID-19, doctors fear what comes next

COVID-19 plus the flu could quickly overwhelm health care systems.

Intensive care nurses work on a COVID-19 patient in the ICU at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in Los Angeles County, Calif., on May 8.Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images file

Six months. That's all it took for a new virus to circle the globe and infect more than 10 million people, including 2.5 million in the U.S.
That period of time could have been enough to slow or even stop the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Some countries, such as New Zealand, have succeeded so far.
But six months since the first report of a new virus emerging in Wuhan, China, on Dec. 31, the U.S. and other countries worldwide are experiencing surges in new cases.
On Monday, the World Health Organization marked the six months since a cluster of cases of a mysterious pneumonia in China was reported with a warning that the pandemic is "actually speeding up."
"We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in his opening statement. "But the hard reality is: This is not even close to being over."
The aggressive spread of the coronavirus in the U.S., particularly in the Southern and Western states, is a reality many American health care providers face with humility and disgust as they look toward the second half of 2020. The physicians and public health experts who were interviewed hesitated when asked whether they had hope that the U.S. could overcome COVID-19 over the next six months.
"I'm discouraged and demoralized," said Dr. Michael Saag, associate dean for global health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "When you compare our case numbers to almost any other industrialized country, we are getting clobbered."

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