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Fauci ‘Not Pleased’ with US Handling of COVID-19 Outbreak

A woman holding a baby waits to take a coronavirus test in the Sunset Park neighborhood, which has seen a spike in coronavirus cases in recent days, on Aug. 13, 2020, in New York City.

After the country reported its deadliest day of the coronavirus outbreak since May, the nation’s top infectious disease expert says he is not pleased with the way things are going in the United States.

“We certainly are not where I hope we would be, we are in the middle of very serious historic pandemic,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said at a National Geographic panel discussion Thursday.

Even though President Donald Trump said this week he expects the outbreak to be in “good shape ... in a very short period of time,” Fauci said the number of cases will continue to rise unless federal and state governments can work together.

That’s the thing that I’m concerned about because I believe we can, we have within our power to be able to get that down,” he said.

There has been no single coordinated strategy from Washington and states on how to fight the outbreak. Some states have mask mandates and are continuing restrictions, while others do not require masks in public places and have eased the rules on social gatherings.

Some states are seeing the number of cases rise while such hot spots as Arizona, California and Florida are improving and are “having now, less deaths, less hospitalizations, less cases,” Fauci said.

Fauci has said that the coronavirus will likely never go away but that health officials can work to bring it down to “low levels.”

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says governments must “do it all” – test, isolate and treat patients, and trace and quarantine all the people with whom they had contact.

A backhoe places the coffin containing the body of Marina Salazar, 75, who died from COVID-19 complications, into her tomb at a cemetery in Carabayllo, Lima, Peru, Aug. 13, 2020.
A backhoe places the coffin containing the body of Marina Salazar, 75, who died from COVID-19 complications, into her tomb at a cemetery in Carabayllo, Lima, Peru, Aug. 13, 2020.

Wednesday’s 1,500 deaths was the highest single day total in the U.S. since May. The U.S., with 5.2 million cases and 167,000 deaths, leads the world by far in both categories.

Other experts are warning that unless world leaders take more action to contain it, the coronavirus could be just as or even deadlier than the 1918 flu pandemic, which is believed to have killed 50 million people worldwide.

A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association Network Open looked at New York City.

It says even when doctors take into account the technology, lifesaving drugs and information that did not exist 100 years ago, the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases during the first two months of the outbreak was “substantially greater” than the peak of the 1918 epidemic.

“If insufficiently treated, SARS-CoV-2 infection (COVID-19) may have comparable or greater mortality than 1918 H1N1 influenza virus infection,” Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Jeremy Faust wrote.

New apps

Three more states – Alabama, North Dakota and Wyoming – are launching apps to warn people about potential exposure to COVID-19, Reuters reports.

Virginia is the first state to implement the technology, and other states are testing apps and plan to introduce them in the coming weeks.

Users who download the apps on their smartphones get a map of the state and dots where the most cases are clustered, so travelers and others can avoid those areas.

In Germany

The premier of Germany’s Bavaria state is apologizing for problems with a data entry system that meant about 900 people who tested positive for COVID-19 were never told about it.

Nearly 44,000 people who traveled to Bavaria about two weeks ago have been waiting for their test results. Officials believe about 900 tests were positive.

“It is really extremely galling. We can only apologize,” Bavarian leader Markus Soeder told reporters. He promised to fix the problems by adding more staff to the testing centers. The Bavarian state health minister has offered to resign.

Soeder has been touted as a possible successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Dental care

Meanwhile, dentists are angry with the WHO’s recommendation that people put off routine checkups in areas where the coronavirus appears to be spreading.

"Dentists have been experts in infection control for over 20 years due to the HIV-AIDS scare," California Dental Association president Dr. Richard Nagy said. "So we're used to preparing our offices for infection disease control. We really increased our knowledge of airborne base pathogens and prepare their offices in terms of enhanced PPE enhanced training for our staff," he explained.

The American Dental Association says it “strongly disagrees” with the WHO and says doctors and hygienists can work safely with the appropriate equipment.

Many U.S. medical practices immediately perform temperature checks on all patients who walk through their doors and limit the number of people allowed inside the offices at the same time.