After Asking Americans to Sacrifice in Shutdown, Leaders Failed to Control Virus

WASHINGTON — More than four months into fighting the coronavirus in the United States, the shared sacrifice of millions of Americans suspending their lives — with jobs lost, businesses shuttered, daily routines upended — has not been enough to beat back a virus whose staying power around the world is only still being grasped.The number of new U.S. cases this last week surged dangerously high, to levels not ever seen in the course of the pandemic, especially in states that had rushed to reopen their economies. The result has been a realization for many Americans that however much they have yearned for a return to normalcy, their leaders have failed to control the coronavirus pandemic. And there is little clarity on what comes next.”There has to be a clear coherent sustained communication, and that has absolutely not happened,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. “We’ve had just the opposite and now it’s hard to unring a whole series of bells.”There was “real hubris” on the part of public health officials at the very start, Schaffner said, that the United States could lock down and contain the virus as China had. That futile hope helped create an unrealistic expectation that the shutdown, while intense, would not be for long, and that when it was lifted life would return to normal.That expectation was reinforced by President Donald Trump, who has downplayed the severity of the crisis, refused to wear a mask and began calling for states to open even as the virus was surging. A lack of federal leadership also meant that states lacked a unified approach.With no clear message from the top, states went their own ways. A number of them failed to use the shutdown to fully prepare to reopen in a careful manner. As Americans bought precious time trying to keep the virus at bay, experts advised that states urgently needed to establish a robust system for tracking and containing any new cases — through testing, monitoring and contact tracing. Without this, the pandemic would simply come roaring back.Testing and contact tracing efforts were ramped up, but not enough in some places. Even states that did embark on ambitious plans to do contact tracing struggled. Health officials in Massachusetts, which has one of the country’s most established tracing programs, said in May that only about 60% of infected patients were picking …read more

Source:: Yahoo