Earlier lockdown measures could have saved thousands of American lives, study says
A new study shows that thousands of lives could have been saved in the United States if the country had implemented lockdowns and social distancing measures just two weeks earlier to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The vast majority of the virus deaths — about 54,000 — would have been avoided, if the US had begun locking down cities and limiting social contact on March 1, two weeks earlier than most people started self-quarantine, according to data from Columbia University disease modelers, which was first reported by The New York Times. The fatality rate was 65,307 on May 3.
“It’s a big, big difference,” said Jeffrey Shaman, an epidemiologist at Columbia and the leader of the research team.
“That small moment in time, catching it in that growth phase, is incredibly critical in reducing the number of deaths,” he added.
The scientist at the university said that even small differences in timing would have prevented the worst exponential growth, which by April had subsumed New York City, New Orleans and other major cities.
The US President Donald Trump first resisted canceling campaign rallies or telling people to stay home or avoid crowds. The risk of the virus to most Americans was very low, he said.
“Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on,” Trump tweeted on March 9, suggesting that the flu was worse than the coronavirus. “At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!”
On March 16, Trump started urging Americans to limit travel, avoid groups and stay home from school.
But in cities where the virus arrived early and spread quickly, those actions were too late to avoid a calamity, The New York Times said.
Tens of thousands of people had already been infected by that point, researchers later estimated. A lack of widespread testing allowed those infections to go undetected, hiding the urgency of an outbreak that most Americans still identified as a foreign threat.
The study also found that the virus outbreaks can easily get out of control now that states have begun reopening their economies.
This could only be prevented if officials closely monitor infections and immediately clamp down on new flare-ups, it said.
All 50 US states have at least partially reopened as the nation’s virus death toll surpasses 93,000.
On Wednesday, Connecticut became the final state to end social restriction, and allow restaurants to open under certain conditions.
More than half of all California counties are also moving forward with plans to reopen businesses.
This, as the state has recorded its second highest number of daily deaths from the virus outbreak on Tuesday.
Trump, who has been pushing hard for lifting the restrictions as he is facing reelection in November, admitted earlier this month that it’s possible people will die by reopening the economy, “But we have to get our country open and we have to get it open soon.”
87% of US nurses forced to reuse protective equipment
Another survey conducted by National Nurses United found that the vast majority of nurses, who are not tested for the virus infection, are forced to reuse protective equipment designed for single-use.
Some 84% of those surveyed had not been tested for the coronavirus (Covid-19), while 87% are forced to reuse personal protective equipment, such as N95 masks and face shields.
It also found that 72% of nurses have exposed skin or clothing while treating coronavirus patients.
According to the nationally representative survey, “dangerous healthcare workplace conditions have become the norm” since the outbreak hit the country.
More than 100 US nurses have lost their lives since the beginning of the pandemic.