In New York City, the daily onslaught of coronavirus deaths has halved. In Chicago, a makeshift hospital is being closed in a lakefront convention center that is no longer needed. And in New Orleans, new cases have shrunk to a handful every day.
Across America, however, these signs of progress are obscuring a darker reality.
The country is still in a pandemic with little hope of release. For every indication of an improvement in virus control, new outbreaks have occurred elsewhere that keep the nation in a steady, relentless march of deaths and infections.
As states continue to lift restrictions To stop the virus, impatient Americans freely return to shop, dine in restaurants, and gather in parks. Regular new flare-ups and super spreader events are expected to be close behind.
The corona virus in America now looks like this: More than a month has passed since there was a day with fewer than 1,000 deaths from the virus. Almost every day, at least 25,000 new coronavirus cases are identified, which means that the total number in the United States – that has highest number of known cases worldwide with more than a million – grows by 2 to 4 percent every day.
Rural cities that remained intact a month ago are suddenly hot spots for the virus. It is raging through nursing homes, meat packaging companies and prisons, killing medically at risk and poor people, and new outbreaks keep appearing in grocery stores, walmart stores or factories, a threatening harbinger of what will bring the full reopening of the economy.
While there are no known cases of corona viruses in dozens of counties, a panoramic view of the country shows a dark and disturbing picture.
“If you include New York, it looks like a plateau is moving down,” said Andrew Noymer, associate professor of public health at the University of California at Irvine. “If you exclude New York, it’s a plateau that is slowly moving up.”
In early April, more than 5,000 new cases were added regularly in New York City. These numbers have dropped significantly in recent weeks, but this progress has been largely offset by increases in other major cities.
Consider Chicago and Los Angeles, which flattened their curves and avoided the explosive growth of New York City. Nevertheless, the coronavirus cases in their counties have more than doubled since April 18. Cook County, home of Chicago, sometimes has more than 2,000 new cases added every day, and Los Angeles County often has at least 1,000 new cases added.
Dallas County, Texas added about 100 more cases a day than a month ago, and the counties that include Boston and Indianapolis have also reported higher numbers.
It’s not just the big cities. Smaller towns and counties in the Midwest and South were suddenly hit hard, underscoring the capriciousness of the pandemic.
Dakota County, Neb., Which has the third most common cases per capita in the country, had no known cases as of April 11. The county is now a hot zone for the virus.
Dakota City has a large beef processing facility in Tyson where cases have been reported. And the region, which straddles the borders of Iowa and South Dakota, is littered with meat processing companies that have been an important source of work for generations. The pattern has been repeated everywhere: According to federal agencies, at least 4,900 meat and poultry processors are infected in 19 states.
The Tyson plant in Dakota City was temporarily closed for thorough cleaning. Now the workers are waiting, for fear of going back to work, but for fear of not doing it.
“They need money and want to go back, of course,” said Qudsia Hussein, whose husband is an imam who advises the families of the sick or deceased workers. Since many companies are closed or suffering financially due to the pandemic, she said, “There is no other place to work.”
Trousdale County, Tennessee, another rural area, suddenly has by far the highest per capita infection rate in the country. A prison seems to be responsible for a big increase in some cases. In 10 days the number of known cases in this county with about 11,000 inhabitants rose from 27 to 1,344.
As of last week, more than half of the inmates and employees tested at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center in Hartsville, Tennessee, were positive for the virus.
“It was my worst nightmare since the beginning that this would happen,” said Dwight Jewell, chairman of the Trousdale County Commission. “I expected that. They bring so many people into a closed environment and all it takes is one.”
Everyone in the city knows the outbreak. But they are defiant: the companies in the county reopen this week. The district officials held a face-to-face meeting on Monday evening with the chairs a meter apart. They have a budget to adopt and other issues the county is facing, said Mr. Jewell.
“We have to go back to the community business,” he said.
Infectious disease experts are concerned about the perception that the United States has seen the worst of the virus and have tried to warn against false optimism.
“I don’t understand why we expect the daily case numbers to drop sharply in the next month,” said Trevor Bedford, a scientist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center who examined the spread and development of the virus. wrote on Twitter. He added: “There may be cities / counties that achieve local oppression, but at the national level, I expect things to flare up in different regions, followed by reactions to those flares.”
The outbreak in the United States has already killed more than 70,000 people, and epidemiologists say the nation reports no fewer than 5,000 coronavirus-related deaths per week by June 20, according to a survey by University of Massachusetts researchers in Amherst becomes . A federal projection based on government models created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. predicts a steady increase 3,000 deaths per day on June 1 in the event of death within the next few weeks.
Across the country, scientists tried to project the future course of the virus and the results were a series of changing models. An aggregate Several models put together by Nicholas Reich, a biostatist at the University of Massachusetts, are forecast to average 10,000 deaths per week over the next few weeks. That’s less than in the past few weeks, but it doesn’t mean a peak has been passed, said Dr. Rich. In the seven-day period that ended on Sunday, approximately 12,700 deaths related to the virus occurred nationwide.
“There is an idea that it will rise and fall in a symmetrical curve,” said Dr. Rich. “It doesn’t have to do that. It could increase and we could have several thousand deaths a week for many weeks.”
The deaths have hit few places harder than America’s nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. More than a quarter of the deaths have been linked to these facilities, and more than 118,000 residents and employees in at least 6,800 households have been infected with the virus.
There is no escape from basic epidemic math.
In the absence of a vaccine, around two thirds of the population must be infected to stop the virus from spreading. And some experts have argued that the number of people infected nationwide before herd immunity sets in could reach an astonishing 90 percent if social distance is relaxed and transmission rates increase. (It is also not clear how long immunity persists in infected people.)
As the test capacity increases, the number of cases counted. However, cases are still missing in many jurisdictions and count deaths. Many epidemiologists believe that about ten times as many people are infected with the coronavirus as known cases.
Because of the time it will take for infections to spread, incubate, and people die, the effects of reopening may not be known until at least six weeks after the fact. A model used by disease control and prevention centers includes the assumption that infection rates will increase by up to 20 percent in states that reopen.
Under this modelIn early August, the most likely outcome is 3,000 more deaths in Georgia than currently in the state, 10,000 more each in New York and New Jersey, and around 7,000 more each in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Massachusetts. According to the model’s most likely forecast, the nation will suffer approximately 100,000 additional deaths by August 4.
“Even if we passed the first summit, it doesn’t mean the worst is behind us,” said Youyang Gu, the data scientist who created the model. “It’s going up fast, but it’s a slow decline.”
The coverage was written by John Eligon, Robert Gebeloff, Danielle Ivory, Dionne Searcey, Timothy Williams and Karen Yourish.