Baltimore Sun

Infections swell across US, Europe

Ex­perts fear deaths will soon soar amid lapses in safety rules

- By David Crary, Carla K. Johnson and Geir Moul­son Health · Infectious Diseases · Health Conditions · European Union · United States of America · Germany · Czech Republic · Italy · Poland · France · Paris · Netherlands · Northern Ireland · Ireland · Texas · Anthony Fauci · U.S. government · North Dakota · Republican Party (United States) · Wisconsin · Johns Hopkins University · Hopkins · World Health Organization · Emmanuel Macron · United Kingdom · London · Kaiser Family Foundation · Washington · Midwest · Republican · Doug Burgum · Tony Evers · Kaiser

Coro­n­avirus cases around the world have climbed to all-time highs of more than 330,000 per day as the scourge comes storm­ing back across Europe and spreads with re­newed speed in the U.S., forc­ing many places to reim­pose tough re­stric­tions they had eased just a few months ago.

Well af­ter Europe seemed to have largely tamed the virus that proved so lethal last spring, newly con­firmed infections are reach­ing un­prece­dented lev­els in Ger­many, the Czech Repub­lic, Italy and Poland, and most of the rest of the con­ti­nent is see­ing sim­i­lar dan­ger signs.

France im­posed a 9 p.m. cur­few on Paris and other big cities. Lon­don­ers face new re­stric­tions on meet­ing with peo­ple in­doors. The Nether­lands closed bars and restau­rants this week. The Czech Repub­lic and North­ern Ire­land shut down schools. Poland lim­ited restau­rant hours and closed gyms and pools.

In the United States, new cases per day are on the rise in 44 states, with the big­gest surges in the Mid­west and Great Plains, where re­sis­tance to wear­ing masks and ob­serv­ing other so­cial dis­tanc­ing prac­tices has been run­ning high. Deaths per day are climb­ing in 30 states.

“I see this as one of the tough­est times in the epi­demic,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, an in­fec­tious-dis­ease spe­cial­ist at the Bay­lor Col

lege of Medicine in Texas. “The num­bers are go­ing up pretty rapidly. We’re go­ing to see a pretty large epi­demic across the North­ern Hemi­sphere.”

Dr. An­thony Fauci, the U.S. gov­ern­ment’s top in­fec­tious-dis­ease ex­pert, said Amer­i­cans should think hard about whether to hold Thanks­giv­ing gath­er­ings.

“Ev­ery­one has this tra­di­tional, emo­tional, warm feel­ing about the hol­i­days and bringing a group of peo­ple, friends and fam­ily, to­gether in the house in­doors,” he said on ABC’s “Good Morn­ing Amer­ica.” “We re­ally have to be care­ful this time that each in­di­vid­ual fam­ily eval­u­ates the risk ben­e­fit of do­ing that.”

Re­sponses to the surge have var­ied in hard-hit states.

In North Dakota, Repub­li­can Gov. Doug Bur­gum raised the coro­n­avirus risk level in 16 coun­ties this week but is­sued no man­dated re­stric­tions. In Wis­con­sin, a judge tem­po­rar­ily blocked an or­der from Demo­cratic Gov. Tony Evers that would limit the num­ber of peo­ple who can gather in bars and restau­rants. Bars in much of Texas were al­lowed to reopen this week, but judges in sev­eral of the most pop­u­lous coun­ties opted to keep them closed.

Ac­cord­ing to Johns Hopkins Univer­sity, new­cases in the U.S. have risen from

about 40,000 per day on aver­age to more than 52,000 over the past two weeks.

Deaths were rel­a­tively sta­ble over the same pe­riod, at around 720 a day. That is well be­low the U.S. peak of over 2,200 dead per day in late April.

World­wide, deaths have fallen slightly in re­cent weeks to about 5,200 a day, down from a peak of around 7,000 in April.

The head of the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion’s Europe office urged govern­ments to be “un­com­pro­mis­ing” in con­trol­ling the virus. He said most of the spread is hap­pen­ing be­cause peo­ple aren’t com­ply­ing with safety rules. “These mea­sures are meant to keep us all ahead of

the curve and to flat­ten its course,” Dr. Hans Kluge said, while wear­ing a mask. “It is there­fore up to us to ac­cept them while they are still rel­a­tively easy to fol­low.”

In France, which re­ported over 22,000 new infections Wed­nes­day, Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron put 18 mil­lion residents in nine re­gions, in­clud­ing Paris, un­der a cur­few start­ing Satur­day. The coun­try will de­ploy 12,000 po­lice of­fi­cers to en­force it.

“Our com­pa­tri­ots thought this health cri­sis was be­hind us,” Prime Min­is­ter Jean Cas­tex said.

Italy set a one-day record for infections and recorded the high­est daily death toll of this sec­ond wave, adding 83 vic­tims to bring its of­fi­cial count to nearly 36,400, the sec­ond-high­est in Europe af­ter Bri­tain.

In Bri­tain, Lon­don and seven other ar­eas face re­stric­tions that will mean more than 11 mil­lion peo­ple will be barred from meet­ing with any­one in­doors from out­side their house­holds and will be asked to min­i­mize travel start­ing this week­end.

Euro­pean na­tions have seen nearly 230,000 con­firmed deaths from the virus, while the U.S. has recorded more than 217,000, though ex­perts agree the of­fi­cial fig­ures un­der­state the true toll.

So far in the new surges, deaths have not in­creased at the same pace as infections.

For one thing, it can take time for peo­ple to get sick and die of the virus. Also, many of the new cases in­volve young peo­ple, who are less likely than older ones to get se­ri­ously ill. Pa­tients are ben­e­fit­ing from new drugs and other im­prove­ments in treat­ing COVID-19. And nurs­ing homes, which were rav­aged by the virus last spring, have got­ten bet­ter at con­trol­ling infections.

But ex­perts fear it is only a mat­ter of time be­fore deaths start rising in step with infections.

“All of this does not bode well,” said Josh Michaud, as­so­ciate di­rec­tor of global health pol­icy with the Kaiser Fam­ily Foun­da­tion in Wash­ing­ton. “Rapid in­creases in cases like we’re see­ing now are al­ways fol­lowed by in­creases in hos­pi­tal­iza­tions and deaths, which is what is likely to oc­cur across much of Europe and the U.S. in the com­ing weeks and months.”

 ?? KIRSTY WIG­GLESWORTH/AP ?? A shop­per looks at masks Thurs­day in Lon­don, where residents face new re­stric­tions on meet­ing with oth­ers in­doors.
KIRSTY WIG­GLESWORTH/AP A shop­per looks at masks Thurs­day in Lon­don, where residents face new re­stric­tions on meet­ing with oth­ers in­doors.

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