Countries Battle Spikes in COVID-19
The new normal is far from normal. Many countries felt like they had a solid grasp of how to weather the COVID-19 pandemic after the initial wave of cases, but recent spikes and high-profile infections worldwide are forcing world leaders to change advice and approaches.
U.S. President Donald Trump announced late last week that he and his wife, Melania Trump, had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Shortly thereafter, President Trump was transported to Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, for treatment, raising widespread concern over his health and U.S. national stability.
The White House is not the only coronavirus hotspot right now, though. In New York City, which had been a model for reopening after a COVID-19 lockdown, Mayor Bill de Blasio and health officials are seeking approval to pause reopening in nine ZIP codes in Southern Brooklyn, Far Rockaway, and Central Queens, where COVID-19 cases have spiked, reaching an average test-positivity rate of 6.5 percent, compared to 1.1 percent at the state level. The pause would force the regions to close schools and non-essential businesses and suspend indoor dining—which had just resumed—for up to a month. As many as 500,000 people living in those ZIP codes would be affected, NBC New York reported.
Also in the United States, nine U.S. states have reported record increases in COVID-19 cases over the last seven days, especially as colder weather forces more activities indoors, according to Reuters. On Saturday, four states—Kentucky, Minnesota, Montana, and Wisconsin—saw record increases in new cases. Nationally, nearly 49,000 new infections were reported.
In Wisconsin, more than half of the state’s 72 counties are experiencing “very high” COVID-19 activity—more than 350 cases per 100,000 people. On average, 22 percent of tests are coming back positive.
New York City isn’t the only metropolis seeking to slow a new wave of infections. In Paris, all bars, gyms, and swimming pools will shut completely for two weeks starting Tuesday after the government raised the city’s coronavirus alert to maximum following a period of high infection rates (infections exceeding 250 per 100,000 people), according to the BBC. Restaurants may remain open provided they follow strict hygiene rules. Health officials report that there are 203 active coronavirus clusters in the wider Paris region.
Elsewhere in Europe, the Czech Republic issued a state of emergency; Moscow firms have been told to keep at least 30 percent of staff working from home; Madrid, Spain, entered a lockdown over the weekend; and Italian health officials warn that new pandemic measures and restrictions are likely coming.
Meanwhile, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam released a statement yesterday warning that the Canadian holiday season—which starts with Thanksgiving on 12 October—will need to look significantly different than in years past to enable the country to curb the spread of the virus. “Indoors and outdoors, the quickest and safest way for Canada to get back on the slow burn is for us all to take every measure during every moment of our day, and always act in a way that can prevent the spread of illness to others,” she said.