Is the time ripe for reopening in US?


Vials with a sticker reading, "COVID-19 / Coronavirus vaccine / Injection only" and a medical syringe are seen in front of a displayed US flag in this illustration taken October 31, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

Amid a cluster of good news, such as ample vaccinations for American adults by the end of May, a plunge in coronavirus cases and planned reopenings, health experts such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention remain concerned and have pleaded with the public to stay vigilant.

On one hand, both virus-contraction and COVID-19 fatality rates in the US have continued to drop in the past two weeks, signaling that the pandemic that has claimed more than 510,000 American lives has weakened.

Over the last week, roughly 65,422 new cases were recorded daily, compared with the peak of nearly 250,000 daily cases in January, according to data by Johns Hopkins University.

Adding to the optimism, President Joe Biden told Americans on Tuesday that "this country will have enough vaccine supply, I'll say it again, for every adult in America by the end of May", at the White House.

Joining the jubilant chorus on the same day were Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves: Both states rescinded mask mandates and allowed businesses of any type to fully open — Mississippi this Wednesday and Texas next week.

In San Francisco, Mayor London Breed gave the green light to restaurants for indoor dining to restart on Wednesday at 25 percent capacity and a maximum of 100 people.

On the other hand, CDC experts warned the nation that a highly contagious variant, first identified in the UK and known as B.1.1.7, "looms ready to hijack" progress against the virus.

The US is at a "critical nexus", said Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, on Wednesday at a White House daily briefing, adding that the number of daily new infections is still above the rate last summer. In 14 states, coronavirus cases grew by more than 5 percent, up from only two states a week ago.

According to January CDC research, the B.1.1.7 strain would become predominant in the US by mid- to late March, could reverse the current downward trajectory in infections, and ultimately postpone an overall recovery. "Now more than ever, we must do all we can to stop the spread of the virus," Walensky said.

Bombarded by conflicting messages and directives, the general public is baffled — whether or not to wear a mask, to return to work, to send children back to school, to vaccinate — all leading to moments of indecision.

Some call moves by state governments "blunt and radical", the Texas practice in particular.

"There were over 7,200 new cases on March 2. Seven-day average is above 7,000. How could Governor Abbott ignore the harsh reality but push for reopening?" said Jackie Zhou, a Texas mom of two young children. "This is an act with utter disregard for human life."

San Francisco resident David Tsu, 72, said the "time is not ripe yet" for the city to reopen indoor dining. Given the city is still averaging 67 new coronavirus cases a day, "Mayor Breed needs to think twice, especially (because) the variants also were reported in the Bay Area," he said. "We can't afford another round of shutdown and stay-in-place."

For those parents who have school-age children, to choose between on-site teaching and distance learning is a headache. Worse, public figures in the government and public education system are sending contradictory messages.

For example, Berkeley Federation of Teachers President Matt Meyer was caught on camera recently dropping his daughter off for in-person learning at a private school. However, Meyer, as the head of a Northern California teachers union, is the mastermind behind the "Gold Standard" campaign, which advocates for continuing closure of local public schools until all staff members are vaccinated.

"He's been saying it is unsafe for ‘your kid' to be back at school, all the while dropping his kid off at private school," a parent vented on Twitter.

In his defense, Meyer issued a statement on Monday saying, "There are major differences in running a small preschool and a 10,000-student public school district in terms of size, facilities, public health guidance and services that legally have to be provided. "We all want a safe return to school."

In California, students in kindergarten through second grade are scheduled to return to class by the end of March.

The question remains, how safe is safe enough? Listen to President Biden, he warned: "It's not over yet. Stay vigilant."

在一系列好消息中,例如到5月底美国成年人接种了大量疫苗,冠状病毒病例大幅下降,以及计划再次手术,疾病控制和预防中心(Center for Disease Control and Prevention)等卫生专家仍然感到担忧,并呼吁公众保持警惕。一方面,美国的病毒感染和新冠肺炎死亡率在过去两周持续下降,这表明已经夺走51万美国人生命的大流行已经减弱。根据约翰·霍普金斯大学的数据,在过去一周内,每天记录的新病例约为65,422例,而1月份的峰值为每天近25万例。更令人乐观的是,乔·拜登总统周二在白宫告诉美国人,“到5月底,这个国家将有足够的疫苗供应,我再说一遍,为美国的每个成年人”。德克萨斯州州长格雷格·艾伯特(Greg Abbott)和密西西比州州长泰特·里夫斯(Tate Reeves)在同一天加入了欢欣鼓舞的合唱团:这两个州都取消了口罩授权,允许任何类型的企业全面开业——密西西比州本周三,德克萨斯州下周。在旧金山,伦敦市长布兰德周三为室内餐厅重新开业开了绿灯,餐厅的容量为25%,最多可容纳100人。另一方面,疾控中心专家警告该国,一种高度传染性的变种,最初在英国被发现,被称为B.1.1.7,“即将劫持”对抗病毒的进展。疾控中心主任罗谢尔·瓦伦斯基(Rochelle Walensky)周三在白宫的每日简报会上表示,美国正处于“关键时刻”,并补充说,每日新感染人数仍高于去年夏天的水平。在14个州,冠状病毒病例增长了5%以上,而一周前只有两个州。

根据疾控中心1月份的研究,B.1.1.7菌株将在3月中旬至下旬在美国占主导地位,可能逆转目前感染的下降轨迹,并最终推迟整体复苏。“现在比以往任何时候,我们都必须尽全力阻止病毒的传播,”瓦伦斯基说。在相互矛盾的信息和指令的轰炸下,公众困惑不解——是否戴口罩、重返工作岗位、送孩子回学校、接种疫苗——所有这些都导致了犹豫不决的时刻。有人称州政府的举措“生硬激进”,尤其是德克萨斯州的做法。「三月二日共有超过七千二百宗新个案。七天平均7000以上。艾伯特州长怎么能无视严酷的现实,却推动重新开放呢?”有两个孩子的德克萨斯州母亲杰基·周说。"这是完全无视人的生命的行为。"72岁的旧金山居民大卫·苏泰(David Tsu)表示,该市重新开放室内餐饮的“时机尚不成熟”。鉴于该市平均每天仍有67例新的冠状病毒病例,“布里德市长需要三思,尤其是(因为)湾区也报告了变异,”他说。“我们承受不起又一轮停产和原地不动。”对于那些有学龄儿童的家长来说,在现场教学和远程学习之间做出选择是一件令人头痛的事情。更糟糕的是,政府和公共教育系统中的公众人物发出了相互矛盾的信息。例如,伯克利教师联合会主席马特·迈耶(Matt Meyer)最近被拍到送女儿去一所私立学校亲自学习。然而,作为北加州教师工会的负责人,迈耶是“金本位”运动的幕后策划者,该运动倡导继续关闭当地公立学校,直到所有员工都接种疫苗。“他一直说‘你的孩子’回到学校是不安全的,一直把他的孩子送到私立学校,”一位家长在推特上发泄。迈耶周一发表声明为自己辩护,称“在规模、设施、公共卫生指导和依法必须提供的服务方面,经营一所小型幼儿园和一所拥有1万名学生的公立学区存在重大差异。”我们都希望安全返回学校。“在加州,从幼儿园到二年级的学生计划在三月底返回课堂。问题仍然是,多安全才算足够安全?听拜登总统说,他警告说:“这还没有结束。保持警惕。"

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