Walls and border closures cannot stop pathogens like Sars-CoV-2: inside the United States, health officials face multiple regional outbreaks. The number of Covid 19 patients is increasing. An overview.
The global spread of the corona virus does not stop at the US’s external borders. In the United States, the number of coronavirus cases is increasing with the increased output of the long-awaited virus tests. In the 24 hours to Monday morning (German time), the total number of coronavirus cases recorded in the United States rose from 2443 to 3602. Since comparatively few suspected cases have been tested so far, experts assume that the number of unreported cases is significantly higher.
The virus has already been detected from Alaska to Florida and from Hawaii to Maine in all parts of the USA: There are identified cases of infection with Sars-CoV-2, the pathogen that can trigger the sometimes life-threatening lung disease Covid-19 49 of the 50 states, in the capital district of Washington, DC as well as in three US suburbs, including Puerto Rico.
The authorities are experiencing major regional outbreaks in several states: Washington State in the northwest, California, Colorado, Florida, Texas, Georgia and New York State, where New York City is the most populous US city, are hardest hit.
A familiar pattern is also repeated in the states, which was already clearly recognizable in Germany: Coronavirus cases initially occur particularly in economically strong and populous regions. By far most of the case numbers currently come from New York. There are currently 732 people already infected.
In order to curb the wave of contagion, the two US cities New York City and Los Angeles are restricting public life to a considerable extent. All bars, cafes and restaurants have to largely cease to operate, as New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Sunday. All nightclubs and cinemas as well as small theaters and concert halls in New York must also close.
Accordingly, catering establishments may only offer takeaway food. Delivery services are also excluded from the order. New York had previously banned gatherings of more than 500 people due to the Corona crisis and canceled all performances at Broadway theaters.
The west coast metropolis of Los Angeles also imposed drastic protective measures. Bars, restaurants and night clubs will have to close for at least two weeks from Monday, Mayor Eric Garcetti said.
The states of Massachusetts and Washington adopted similar measures. Numerous casinos and hotels were closed in Las Vegas. Schools, museums, sports arenas, and other venues had closed in several states due to the spread of the novel corona virus. California’s governor Gavin Newsom called on everyone over the age of 65 to isolate themselves at home.
In addition to New York State and California, the state of Washington in the extreme northwest of the United States is particularly hard hit. In this region on the Pacific coast, which is in close contact with Asia, the coronavirus was detected in a total of 676 people. This results in considerable burdens for the US economy: in the Seattle metropolitan area, in addition to the defense and aviation group Boeing, there are also world-famous heavyweights such as Microsoft, Starbucks and Amazon with their corporate headquarters.
In the area of this globally networked region, the virus reached US soil for the first time in mid-January. The first confirmed coronavirus finding was on January 20 by a Washington resident who had returned to Seattle five days earlier from Wuhan. US President Donald Trump has repeatedly pointed out that the US is “very, very well prepared”.
At the end of January – around a month after the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan – the US government actually imposed strict requirements for all travelers from the central Chinese province of Hubei. As part of the so-called “Travel Ban”, the US authorities denied entry to anyone who was until recently in the regions affected by the virus outbreak. However, all US citizens, their families and immigrants with US residence status were exempt.
At first that seemed to work. The US case numbers rose slowly. According to critics, only a relatively small number of suspected cases were tested in the USA. The reason? At first, there were apparently far too few corona virus test kits available, and laboratory capacities were not expanded in time. The number of confirmed infections remained largely stable for weeks. By February 23, just over 1000 people across the country had been tested for coronavirus infection.
At the end of February, however, coronavirus cases appeared in which the path of infection could no longer be traced. US researchers took this and other indications as evidence that the virus has apparently been circulating within the United States for weeks and that previously unknown infections have occurred on site.
Shortly afterwards, the CDC US disease control center called on regional authorities, businesses and heads of public agencies to update their epidemic plans and prepare for further spread of the virus. Prices began to drop on Wall Street at the end of February in view of the feared economic downturn.
US President Donald Trump said on March 6, “Keep calm. It (the virus) will go away.” The broad US public, on the other hand, has long been confronted with a massive crisis in the public health system: For many Americans without health insurance, healthcare expenditure has a direct impact on their own finances. Visits to the doctor are expensive, and regulations such as continued sick pay are largely unknown.
Many US workers are also deeply in debt and simply cannot afford to fail for several days or even weeks or to stay at home voluntarily with mild symptoms. And: Without sufficient insurance coverage, inpatient treatment that may be required is tantamount to financial disaster for many Americans.
As a result, the health risks are increasingly gaining domestic political weight: Trump’s most important challenger in the upcoming presidential election campaign is Joe Biden, who, as Vice President under Barack Obama, also campaigned for fundamental reforms in the US healthcare system.
President Trump is therefore working hard to find ways to present himself as an energetic leader in the emerging coronavirus crisis. Most recently, he imposed a 30-day entry ban for Europeans. The borders for people from the Schengen area should be closed from Friday at midnight (local time), as Trump announced in a television speech.
However, according to critics, this measure also comes late, misses the target, also appears half-hearted and also has large gaps. Britain is explicitly excluded from Trump’s latest measure. The US President was initially unable or unwilling to explain why this is so. The corona virus is currently spreading even further on the British island. There are more than 450 confirmed infections.
In his television speech, Trump accused the EU states of not responding quickly enough to the spread of the novel pathogen. After the outbreak of the virus in China, the European borders were not closed to travelers from the People’s Republic, as his country had done.
CDC chief Robert Redfield even described Europe as the “real threat” to the United States in the coronavirus crisis. The measures are needed to protect “health and well-being” of US citizens, Trump said. Just a day later, on the evening of March 13, 2020, the US president finally declared the national emergency.