What you need to know about COVID-19: Holiday weekend could create ‘perfect storm’ for spread, doctor warns

As the Fourth of July weekend nears, an infectious disease doctor said the United States could be heading into “the perfect storm” for a spike in new coronavirus cases.”It’s set up a perfect storm: the combination of travel, the combination of reopening — perhaps in some cases, too early — and the combination of people not necessarily following some of these preventive guidelines,” Dr. Joshua Barocas, an infectious disease physician at Boston Medical Center, said during a Wednesday briefing by the Infectious Diseases Society of America.Barocas said cases spiked in some states after Memorial Day. Thirty-seven states now trend upward in the number of cases from last week and only two states, New Jersey and Rhode Island, trend downward.”I’m very concerned, especially given this coming weekend, that the same types of spikes, the same types of surges could be seen — not just in the places that are currently experiencing surges, but in places that have already experienced surges and in ones that haven’t yet,” he said.Dr. Ricardo Franco, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said, “this surge in our prolonged first wave of infections, it’s very difficult to predict what might happen and the Fourth of July weekend could play a big role in this.”The latest numbersThe U.S. has reported more than 2.6 million cases of the virus and at least 127,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.Some states with hotspots are taking action in an attempt to reduce crowds by shutting down bars, closing beaches and canceling fireworks displays.Nineteen states have changed or paused reopening plans because of spikes in coronavirus cases, and bars have come under scrutiny.”If you have bars, you have music,” said Franco. “If you have music, you want to socialize. And you want to speak louder than usual so you can overcome the background noise.”All those factors can increase the spread of the virus, he said.Texas, Colorado and Delaware have ordered closures or limits on bar operations. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also gave bars nothing to cheer when he appeared before Congress this week.”Bars: really not good, really not good. Congregation at a bar, inside, is bad news. We really have got to stop that,” Fauci said Tuesday.Amid an increase in COVID-19 cases, California Gov. Gavin Newsom is ordering some businesses in 19 counties to halt indoor operations ahead of the Fourth of July weekend.Restaurants, wineries and tasting rooms, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos and museums and cardrooms in the 19 counties on the state’s watch list must close indoor operations, Newsom said Wednesday. Three different factors trigger a county being placed on the state’s COVID-19 watch list: elevated disease transmission, increasing hospitalization and limited hospital capacity. Economic impactA resurgence of confirmed COVID cases across the South and West — and the suspension or reversal of re-openings of bars, hotels, restaurants and other businesses — is endangering hopes for an economic rebound in the region and perhaps nationally. At stake are the jobs of millions of people who have clung to hopes that their layoffs from widespread business shutdowns this spring would prove short-lived.On Thursday, the government is expected to issue another robust monthly jobs report. Economists have forecast that employers added 3 million jobs in June, on top of 2.5 million added in May, clawing back a portion of the record-high 21 million that vanished in April at the height of the viral shutdowns.SoCal, South Florida beaches closedLos Angeles County and surrounding communities closed beaches over the weekend as California approached a quarter million reported cases of COVID-19. One hopeful note from the other end of the country: New York City beaches have opened for swimming.In hard-hit South Florida, beaches from Palm Beach to Key West will be shut down for the holiday weekend. Meanwhile, Laguna Beach in Orange County, California, canceled the city’s annual fireworks display.”Sorry for the bad news but it’s for the best this year,” city police department spokesperson Jim Cota said.While other cities canceled fireworks to keep people from crowding together, places like Los Alamitos and Seal Beach, California, got creative. They’re jointly holding a “Drive-Up 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular” that bans pedestrians and includes temperature checks. Many cases are undetectedOfficial COVID-19 death counts in the United States may underestimate the fatalities linked with the pandemic, according to a new study.The study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine on Wednesday, found that the number of “excess deaths” that have occurred so far during the pandemic, between March and May, is 28% higher than the nation’s official number of deaths attributed to COVID-19.”The gap between reported COVID-19 deaths and excess deaths can be influenced by several factors, including the intensity of testing; guidelines on the recording of deaths that are suspected to be related to COVID-19 but do not have a laboratory confirmation; and the location of death,” the researchers wrote in the study. Stop the spread of COVID-19What people shouldn’t do in this pandemic, Fauci said Tuesday, is head to the bar.”Bars: really not good, really not good. Congregation at a bar, inside, is bad news. We really have got to stop that.”Without those measures, Fauci said, the U.S. will continue to be in trouble.”Clearly, we are not in total control right now,” he said. “The numbers speak for themselves.”Precautions such as social distancing and mask-wearing are meant to help people “enjoy themselves within the safe guidelines,” Fauci said.”We should not look at the public health endeavors as being an obstruction to opening up. We should look at it as a vehicle to opening up,” he added. The CDC recommends you stay 6 feet apart from others.Make sure to wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.For more tips on how to stay safe, CLICK HERE.The Associated Press contributed to this report.

As the Fourth of July weekend nears, an infectious disease doctor said the United States could be heading into “the perfect storm” for a spike in new coronavirus cases.

“It’s set up a perfect storm: the combination of travel, the combination of reopening — perhaps in some cases, too early — and the combination of people not necessarily following some of these preventive guidelines,” Dr. Joshua Barocas, an infectious disease physician at Boston Medical Center, said during a Wednesday briefing by the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

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Barocas said cases spiked in some states after Memorial Day. Thirty-seven states now trend upward in the number of cases from last week and only two states, New Jersey and Rhode Island, trend downward.

“I’m very concerned, especially given this coming weekend, that the same types of spikes, the same types of surges could be seen — not just in the places that are currently experiencing surges, but in places that have already experienced surges and in ones that haven’t yet,” he said.

Dr. Ricardo Franco, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said, “this surge in our prolonged first wave of infections, it’s very difficult to predict what might happen and the Fourth of July weekend could play a big role in this.”

The latest numbers

The U.S. has reported more than 2.6 million cases of the virus and at least 127,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Some states with hotspots are taking action in an attempt to reduce crowds by shutting down bars, closing beaches and canceling fireworks displays.

Nineteen states have changed or paused reopening plans because of spikes in coronavirus cases, and bars have come under scrutiny.

“If you have bars, you have music,” said Franco. “If you have music, you want to socialize. And you want to speak louder than usual so you can overcome the background noise.”

All those factors can increase the spread of the virus, he said.

Texas, Colorado and Delaware have ordered closures or limits on bar operations.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also gave bars nothing to cheer when he appeared before Congress this week.

“Bars: really not good, really not good. Congregation at a bar, inside, is bad news. We really have got to stop that,” Fauci said Tuesday.

Amid an increase in COVID-19 cases, California Gov. Gavin Newsom is ordering some businesses in 19 counties to halt indoor operations ahead of the Fourth of July weekend.

Restaurants, wineries and tasting rooms, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos and museums and cardrooms in the 19 counties on the state’s watch list must close indoor operations, Newsom said Wednesday. Three different factors trigger a county being placed on the state’s COVID-19 watch list: elevated disease transmission, increasing hospitalization and limited hospital capacity.

Economic impact

A resurgence of confirmed COVID cases across the South and West — and the suspension or reversal of re-openings of bars, hotels, restaurants and other businesses — is endangering hopes for an economic rebound in the region and perhaps nationally. At stake are the jobs of millions of people who have clung to hopes that their layoffs from widespread business shutdowns this spring would prove short-lived.

On Thursday, the government is expected to issue another robust monthly jobs report. Economists have forecast that employers added 3 million jobs in June, on top of 2.5 million added in May, clawing back a portion of the record-high 21 million that vanished in April at the height of the viral shutdowns.

SoCal, South Florida beaches closed

Los Angeles County and surrounding communities closed beaches over the weekend as California approached a quarter million reported cases of COVID-19.

One hopeful note from the other end of the country: New York City beaches have opened for swimming.

In hard-hit South Florida, beaches from Palm Beach to Key West will be shut down for the holiday weekend.

Meanwhile, Laguna Beach in Orange County, California, canceled the city’s annual fireworks display.

“Sorry for the bad news but it’s for the best this year,” city police department spokesperson Jim Cota said.

While other cities canceled fireworks to keep people from crowding together, places like Los Alamitos and Seal Beach, California, got creative. They’re jointly holding a “Drive-Up 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular” that bans pedestrians and includes temperature checks.

Many cases are undetected

Official COVID-19 death counts in the United States may underestimate the fatalities linked with the pandemic, according to a new study.

The study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine on Wednesday, found that the number of “excess deaths” that have occurred so far during the pandemic, between March and May, is 28% higher than the nation’s official number of deaths attributed to COVID-19.

“The gap between reported COVID-19 deaths and excess deaths can be influenced by several factors, including the intensity of testing; guidelines on the recording of deaths that are suspected to be related to COVID-19 but do not have a laboratory confirmation; and the location of death,” the researchers wrote in the study.

Stop the spread of COVID-19

What people shouldn’t do in this pandemic, Fauci said Tuesday, is head to the bar.

“Bars: really not good, really not good. Congregation at a bar, inside, is bad news. We really have got to stop that.”

Without those measures, Fauci said, the U.S. will continue to be in trouble.

“Clearly, we are not in total control right now,” he said. “The numbers speak for themselves.”

Precautions such as social distancing and mask-wearing are meant to help people “enjoy themselves within the safe guidelines,” Fauci said.

“We should not look at the public health endeavors as being an obstruction to opening up. We should look at it as a vehicle to opening up,” he added.

The CDC recommends you stay 6 feet apart from others.

Make sure to wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

For more tips on how to stay safe, CLICK HERE.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.