Dr Owain Williams By: Dr Owain Williams
Lecturer in IR and Human Security
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11 Jun 2020 : Remember COVID-19 in the USA?

The USA is now polarised not only around issues of race and the POTUS. It has a problem with open-up states, a real problem of massive amounts of new hospitalisations with COVID, and huge and prolonged spikes in new infections. Any proponents of opening up need to consider what occurs if a whole host of necessary prerequisite are not in place, such as organisation, clear messaging about continued social distancing, mask wearing, mass testing, contact tracing, and surge capacity in hospitals. The grand natural experiment of opening-up in the USA is a spectacular disaster, the country was not ready to do it and is still not ready for its consequences. The government is completely absent, the Presidential COVID taskforce has disappeared, and Trump is now just ignoring COVID completely having moved on to more pressing issues, such as the display of the Confederate flag, the toppling of Civil War monuments, and the names of US military bases.

The Guardian details the ‘American Fiasco’ on June 10, with the milestone of 2 million confirmed cases being reached, up from 1 million cases in just six weeks. All the states that have opened up have experienced the same dynamic around Spring Break, Memorial Day weekend, and the most recent Black lives Matter protests – huge gatherings of people, not wearing masks, using newly opened shops, bars, restaurant, parks and beaches, or more recently gathering together in anger. Jamison and Yamney publish a column in Time this week looking to the 'unnecessary deaths in the USA, the direct product of inaction and politically sanctioned mass stupidity. There is no plan, nothing cohesive, aggressive, or even passable to stop deaths. There is just a vacuum. The CDC still neutered and absent, the administration incompetent and in denial, and governors compliant, or themselves to embedded in the discourse of opening-up. Indeed, COVID seems to have completely faded off the political agenda. It has been forgotten for now.

In at least 10 or even 15 states there are real immediate signs of perilous days ahead. Reuters carries a data heavy report on June 9th of new cases, mortality and hospitalizations by state. Arizona, Utah and New Mexico all show rises of over 40% in the week ending June 7. Texas saw 5,708 new cases, Florida 7,204, Arizona 1270, Arkansas zooming up. South and North Carolina saw 30% rises in the same week. The USA is averaging between 20-30,000 new cases a day since May 1st. This is a national disgrace.

Texas has had a horrible week. One of the arch open-up states which ended lockdown four weeks ago has seen huge spikes in hospitalizations. They have broken records for hospitalization on four consecutive days, with each day seeing roughly 2,000 new cases admitted. This all since Sunday the 7th of June. With quick maths that is some 8,000 new hospitalizations in one week. These individual contractions can be anchored in time to Memorial Day weekend some two weeks ago, just before the BLM protests went national. All are tied to open streets and businesses. Texas now has 1500 open ICU beds and some 6,000 available ventilators. Go figure. In a week or even two weeks it will be apocalyptical in the states hospitals.

I reported some weeks ago the chair of Bexar region GOP publicly announcing that COVID was a Democrat hoax. She then hugged supporters and took off her mask. Bexar reported 180 new cases of COVID for Tuesday alone, these statistics mirroring other metropolitan areas on that day. Many of the open-up Republican governors are signalling that numbers are purely a reflection of increased testing. The uncomfortable fact, however, is this clearly does not bear scrutiny when one considers record rates of hospitalizations. Something has changed, and the epidemic in the USA is now out of control as it was in New York not so long ago. Nothing has been learned, and indeed the conditions for transmission have got far worse.

Arizona, another open up state run by an idiotic governor (Ducey), is also out of control and of major concern for national public health officials and epidemiologists. Same spikes in new cases as Texas, same huge increases in hospital admissions. ICUs and hospital beds are reportedly nearly full this week. Again the governor points to the rise in testing as the reason. This man is a serial public flaunter of not wearing a mask and still holds face to face meetings. The Institute for Health metrics this week almost doubled its projected mortality in the state to 4,400 COVID-related deaths. This will be another man made disaster.

This is a undeniably a very powerful and wealthy nation, a world leader in an American Century. I hate this country’s political system, its racism, its foreign policy. I go every year and love it, and all my American friends. It is being brought low, and it will get even worse.

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