White House gets ready for second wave of coronavirus in fall even as Trump claims pandemic is 'fading'
The US is still in the first wave and data shows that cases are rising in the South and West
The White House is putting together resources to fight a possible second wave of coronavirus infections in Fall, Peter Navarro, the White House director of trade and manufacturing policy, said in an interview. He, however, added that a situation like that was unlikely to play out. "We are filling the stockpile in anticipation of a possible problem in the fall," Mr Navarro told CNN program. "We’re doing everything we can. You prepare for what can possibly happen. I'm not saying it's going to happen, but of course, you prepare," he added.
Vice President Mike Pence hit out at the media for stoking fear and panic about the second wave of infections. "In recent days, the media has taken to sounding the alarm bells over a 'second wave' of coronavirus infections. Such panic is overblown," he wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. Amid talks about the second wave, experts have reminded people that the US is still battling the first wave of infections. Despite that, President Donald Trump has played down concerns, claiming that the pandemic was "fading". During a recent rally in Tulsa, Trump said he had asked his officials to slow testing rates down, saying it was responsible for the rising case tally in the US. "You know testing is a double-edged sword, Here's the bad part... when you do testing to that extent, you're going to find more people; you're going to find more cases."
What does current data say?
According to health experts, the rise was not from increased testing but due to the virus spreading like wildfire in the South and West — regions with an uptick in new cases. Many states have witnessed a spike in the last two weeks: California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Arizona, Louisiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina, Utah, Arkansas, Nevada, Kansas, Oklahoma, Oregon, Idaho, West Virginia, Wyoming, Hawaii and Montana, according to an analysis in The New York Times.
What is more, the data from these states points out to an alarming picture — the percentage of people testing positive is rising, Dr Tom Inglesby, the director of the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Fox News. Former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, Dr Scott Gottlieb, also agreed. He told CBS that the positivity rates are going up due to community spread rather than additional testing.
The data also shows that the number of deaths in the US is declining. But the infection rate is picking up pace, especially among the young. The trend is playing out in many southern states including Texas, Florida and Georgia. In Texas, most fresh cases arose from people under 30, while in Florida, it stood at 37. In the latter, 62% of new infections for the week of June 7 were in people under 45 years. "That is a big change from where we were at the end of March and the beginning of April. It was skewing much older at that time," Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said.
Experts suggest the pandemic could be here to stay. Unlike the flu, Covid-19 is unlikely to ebb and flow. Dr Michael T Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said: "I don’t see this slowing down for the summer or into the fall. I think this is more like a forest fire." The fire will go strong as long as there is wood to help it burn, he added.