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Coronavirus in US: Rising cases make cities 'seriously look' at shutting down again

News Agencies | Updated on: 11 July 2020, 13:50 IST
Rising cases make US cities 'seriously look' at shutting down again

Surging cases of coronavirus infections in the United States has pressurised governors across the country to reimpose stay-at-home orders as the only way to regain control of outbreaks that threaten to overwhelm hospitals and send the death count rocketing, The Washington Post reported.

US cities raced to shut down their economies in March and many opened them just as quickly in May. But the latest push for returning back to shutdown by local health experts appeared to receive a boost from Anthony S Fauci, the nation's top infectious-disease official, who suggested on Wednesday that struggling states "should seriously look at shutting down".

"Stay-at-home is a blunt instrument," said Farshad Fani Marvasti, director of public health at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix.

"But when you are leading the world in new cases and things do not seem to be getting better, you may have to use that blunt instrument," Marvasti added. Studies have found that orders that closed non-essential businesses and forbid non-essential travel or gatherings prevented millions of coronavirus cases nationwide when they were imposed this spring.

Researchers have also found such orders could have saved tens of thousands of lives had they been implemented earlier. Nationwide, more than a dozen states have paused their reopenings this summer as case numbers have climbed.

Another half-dozen have rolled back previously announced reopenings. Several have reimposed bans on bars, which have been particularly hospitable spots for the virus to circulate. But other public health specialists insist a pause is not enough, and that the United States would not be able to reopen to the extent that many other countries have until it learns how to do so safely.

At the Harvard Global Health Institute, researchers recently put together a national tracker to assess the severity of the outbreak in all 50 states.

As of Thursday, 15 of them were in a state of "accelerated spread," meaning that stay-at-home orders should at least be considered, along with aggressive testing and tracing programmes.

Another five -- Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina and Georgia -- were flashing red. In those states, the outbreaks are so advanced that researchers say stay-at-home measures are no longer optional. They should be mandatory.

In all five, however, governors have waved off suggestions that people should be again told to stay at home, citing the economic costs of keeping people out of work. "We do not want to become another New York, another Italy. But that is where we are headed. We need to learn our lesson from these places," Marvasti said.


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First published: 11 July 2020, 13:50 IST