It is personal contact that promotes the transmission of the COVID-19 virus and with the easing of restrictions on social distancing and the rising mobility in most of the 50 states of the United States, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) of the University of Washington in Seattle came out Friday with this forecast:
There will be nearly more 135,000 deaths in the US beginning in August due to the growing contacts among people, along with increases in testing and contact tracing, and warming seasonal temperatures. Among the individual states, the IHME forecast 3,632 deaths for Texas, 4,913 for Georgia, and 32,132 for New York.
On the same day, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore which has been issuing daily reports of infections and deaths put US deaths at 159,841 and infections at 4,867,916. Johns Hopkins’ tally for the entire world that day was 710,564 deaths and 18,912,947 infections.
The COVID-pandemic has become a major election issue in the US. With the presidential election set for Tuesday, November 3, Trump is pushing for the states to lift restrictions, for businesses to reopen, and schools to begin the school year. National and state health officials, however, have expressed concern about schools reopening at this time when the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge in most of the country.
Media giants Facebook and Twitter took action against President Trump for claiming in a video that children should be safe when they return to their classrooms because they are “almost immune” to the coronavirus.
President Trump is hoping for the early development of a vaccine by the US firm Pfizer with German biotech group BioNTech. It should be ready by election time, he said, although Pfizer is still holding tests with results expected only in December.
We must be glad that we have no elections this year in the Philippines. Otherwise, we would be having the same kind of problems as in the US where election issues are muddling government plans against the virus.
In the Philippines, the old Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) restrictions are back because cases increased during the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) that ended July 31. We now have more cases than Indonesia, China, Singapore, Japan, Australia, South Korea, and Malaysia in the Western Pacific region.
The US on the other side of the globe continues to draw our attention in this season of the pandemic. Some 5 million Filipinos live there today. We should be learning from its current experiences with COVID-19 and its interaction with that nation’s politics, especially since it is now the epicenter of the pandemic.