The coronavirus pandemic is killing on average 1,000 Americans a day and 4,000 globally, and this should not be the new normal, Dr. Tom Inglesby, the director of the Bloomberg School’s Center for Health Security, said at a news briefing Thursday.
“We can do better than this,” Inglesby said. “I’m worried that people have kind of accepted where we are as a new normal and it is not normal.”
Some states have hundreds or even thousands of new Covid-19 cases every day and Inglesby pointed out that countries like New Zealand and Thailand have driven their cases down to zero.
“Are we resigned to losing 1,000 Americans a day, until we have a vaccine?” he asked. “I hope we aren’t.”
Around the world: The tactics New Zealand, Thailand, and other countries have used to drive their coronavirus case counts down are the same common practices public health officials in the United States have been advocating for months: border controls, widespread testing, rapid isolation, tracing, quarantines, fastidious hygiene, intensive physical distancing, school and workplace closures and a coordinated public health strategy, Inglesby said.
“We can do these things in the US and should be,” Inglesby added.
He referenced a study this week from the University of California at Berkeley that found that stay-at-home orders alone have prevented more than 62 million coronavirus infections in the US so far and 530 million in the six other countries studied.
“Social distancing works,” he said, noting that in some places around the country people are letting their guard down, moving “too rapidly to open the economy at the risk of accelerating the spread of the disease.”
He also warned that he considers indoor gatherings one of the continued dangers of catching and spreading the virus.
“I think the things that are going to be higher risk are longer periods of time indoors with others that are not part of your family and you breathing in the air that they’re exhaling. If you’re at close distance, that’s going to pose higher risk,” he said.
Moving forward during the pandemic: Inglesby also expressed concern about reopening schools. There isn’t information about whether children spread the disease at school. They clearly don’t have the same level of severe illness as adults, he said.
“The concern is we don’t know whether or not kids in schools will accelerate the spread within those institutions and then transmit the disease to both teachers or administrators who are older, or to their family, parents, grandparents at home,” he said.