the US is in trouble now with COVID

Why the US is in trouble now with COVID

Behavior,

We have reported how the COVID epidemic has been getting worse in the United States, and the situation there continues to worsen. In Brazil, cases are rising, but not nearly as badly as in the US. Today we discuss some of the reasons COVID has become out-of-control in the US, and what we can do here in Brazil to avoid following their poor example.

Masks politicized

In the United States, whether or not you wear a mask has for many people become a political statement rather than an expression of public health. Surveys have shown that Republicans (the party of Trump) are much less likely to wear masks than Democrats (the part of Biden). Mr. Trump has questioned and even mocked those who use masks, in direct contradiction to all responsible public health infection data that proves masks reduce the risk of COVID both in the mask wearer and the people surrounding.

In the US, there is a strong sense of “free will” and “freedom of expression”, and many feel their free will is restricted with a mask. But what about the people who face a much increased risk of getting infected by these mask-less people? It would seem that the people who are being careful and using masks are having their freedom to be healthy in public threatened by selfish individuals who refuse to use masks. 

The other issue—small groups

Scientists who have studied new outbreaks of COVID have concluded that the big problem is “casual occasions that may feel deceptively safe”, such as small dinner parties or birthday parties, even when attended by only a few people. In these events, everyone feels fine and they assume everyone else is fine too, so that the risk is low. But it is not. 

Dr. David Rubin, a director at the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, says many people who are becoming infected by “people we know really well”. Friends and families are gathering in small groups and everyone sort of trusts everyone else, and they “let their guard down”. In these small groups, even when inside and with limited air circulation, many people remove their masks, and get close to others. 

Any of the people attending may have and spread the virus even though they are totally unaware. Maybe they will only get symptoms a day or two after the gathering, or they might never get symptoms. But they still can infect other innocent people, and some of those, especially if they have risk factors or are more susceptible, could die.

Small wedding example

In one recent example from Maine (USA), 55 people gathered for a wedding reception, and all attendees had their temperatures taken on arrival (all ok). None of them felt ill. They were seated in 10 tables, of 4 to 6 people per table. They were all told to wear masks (except while eating), but most did not comply.

Unbeknownst to everyone, one person had the virus, and in the next 38 days, that person’s virus spread to 176 other people, and 7 people died. Sadly, none of the people who died had attended the party. The 7 who died had just been in later contact with one of the party-goers. 

How to stay safe

It is a difficult concept, since most of us think getting a “flu” or virus happens when we are around someone who appears—or at least feels—somewhat sick. But not with COVID. So the best advice for now is to  avoid getting together—for an inside occasion— with others from outside your household. But if you must, you should assume that everyone else is infected, even if you know them and they seem fine. Please, make sure you and the others are wearing masks, and even with that, keep some distance from others. Leave all the windows open and the air flowing freely! 

To find a doctor, of any specialty, anywhere in Brazil, check out our website: www.ProcuraMed.com.

See also in ProcuraMed:

Why you should smile behind your mask

Better mask use will save 130,000 lives

Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

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