November 20, 2020


Europe averted a Covid-19 collapse -- here's what the US could learn (Ivana Kottasová, 11/19/20, CNN)

Despite the clear evidence from Europe, the White House is still opposing new restrictions. "President Trump wanted me to make it clear that our task force, this administration and our President, does not support another national lockdown. And we do not support closing schools," Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday, at the first White House coronavirus task force briefing since July.

"It's evident that in the US, cases are still rising, or at least they're not going down," said Mike Tildesley, an infectious disease modeling expert at the University Warwick and a UK government scientific adviser.

"They need to look at the European situation, and I mean, by no means what we have done in Europe is perfect, these governments are probably reacting a little bit slowly, but they are at least reacting, they are doing what they can to make sure that health services are not overwhelmed... and I think this is clearly what's needed in the US."

The Czech Republic is a good example. After a very mild spring epidemic, the country relaxed most of its coronavirus restrictions over the summer, ditching compulsory masks and fully reopening the economy.

When cases started rising again in September, the government resisted calls from scientists that tougher measures were needed. By mid-October, the central European country became the world's worst-affected nation, reporting more new Covid-19 cases per million people than any other major country. The government then said it had no other option than to impose a strict mask mandate and shut down, otherwise its hospitals would likely run out of beds.

Four weeks later, the country is seeing dramatically lower numbers of new infections. While the health care system has been stretched well beyond its limits -- the country was forced to deploy teenage nursing students in some hospitals -- there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel.

But according to official data, around 25% of ICU beds and 45% of ventilators remained available in the Czech Republic, even during the worst of the crisis. Compare that with US states like Oklahoma, where only 6% of ICU beds remain available. The number of cases in the state is rising exponentially -- yet it has put in very few measures to limit the spread of the disease.

Starting Thursday, bars and restaurants across the state must maintain a six-feet distance between tables, but can remain open for in-person services until 11 p.m. -- in much of Europe, indoor dining is completely off the menu.

Research from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has linked eating at restaurants to higher Covid-19 risk. But when Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer banned indoor dining in an attempt to curb the rising spread of the virus, White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Scott Atlas criticized the move and urged people to "rise up" against the new public health measures.

Posted by at November 20, 2020 1:36 PM