It is incredible to think about how six months ago the whole world shut down. It seems like it was yesterday that there were rumors that students would get another week off for spring break in order to take precautions against COVID-19. That week passed, then another, and another until the entire spring and summer morphed into an extended time-out for the whole world. Despite all of this happening just a few months ago, every country has undergone tremendous change in the last few months that make it seem like a lifetime has gone by. Here is a little update about some of the major countries that were severely affected by COVID-19.
The United States currently has a total of 8.19 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, along with a total of 220,000 confirmed deaths. Former states, such as North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, and other midwest states that were largely unaffected are now witnessing themselves becoming new hotspots. According to the New York Times, North Dakota has the most infections per capita. Despite the rapid infection rate, it is important to note the death rates compared to early spring are far less. Some of the places that were hit the hardest in the U.S. were Florida, New York, Texas, and California, “In Los Angeles County, Calif., at least 286,000 people have had the virus, more than in most states. And in New York City, about one of every 353 residents has died” (New York Times). Additionally, some colleges have gone completely virtual, refusing to let students on campus, while others have maintained a balance between in-person classes and online classes. As the semester began, college towns saw the highest growth rate per capita of infections with over 178,000 students and faculty members contracting the virus. In addition, over a quarter million incarcerated people have contracted the virus. Many people, including the inmates themselves, have been extremely critical of the prison system’s response to the virus. “They are taking a gamble with our lives,” said Jonathan Brooks, 33, an inmate in North Carolina. “I don’t want that to be the last memory that my daughter or my wife remembers me from — being in prison, dying because of a sickness, something that could be avoided” (New York Times).
Italy was another country that greatly suffered from COVID-19. It has had over 420,000 confirmed cases with about 35,000 confirmed deaths. Initially, Italy was one of the most infected countries, and also one of the first countries to go on lockdown. During the summer, Italy’s infection rate was much slower with an average of 100-200 new cases per day; however, that toll has recently skyrocketed as Italy faces its second wave. Since the beginning of October, Italy has seen thousands and thousands of new cases per day, with their largest number of cases, over 11,000, reported on October 18th. Italy’s first confirmed case was in a small town of about 16,000 outside of Milan on February 20th. Local officials immediately called it a crisis and the town went on lockdown. However, not every town in Italy responded with such urgency. Many people in Italy went about their normal lives, which caused the virus to spread. However, by midsummer the virus was essentially eradicated in Italy with health officials stating, “We are almost out of the nightmare” (Medpage). Similar to the United States, other experts are warning that Italy is also heading into a second wave, which could be worse than the first one.
The United Kingdom was another country that got hit extremely hard by COVID-19. With over 740,000 confirmed cases and 43,000 deaths, the UK has the highest number of COVID-19 related deaths in Europe. Prime Minister Johnson issued a plan to usher the UK out of its seven-week lockdown, by allowing for people who cannot work from home to go back to work and also permitting people to spend time outdoors. Prime Minister Johnson has also created a tier system for rating the seriousness of COVID-19 within different areas of the country. There are three different tiers and each of them has different restrictions. “Areas in the first tier uphold the current national restrictions. The second tier tightens measures and does not allow people to mix indoors with other households. In tier three, the ‘very high’ alert areas or localities where transmission levels continue to rise, pubs and bars that do not serve food must close, and the government said it will also assist local councils to establish additional measures. Residents in tier three would also be advised against travel in and out of the area” (New York Times). The UK hopes that this three-tier system can offer its citizens a clearer perspective and allow for them to know their own restrictions. Just like the United States and Italy, the UK is also heading into its second wave, and it could be much worse than its first wave. Back in early spring, the UK was reporting approximately 3-5,000 cases a day, however, since the beginning of October, those numbers have doubled, tripled, and sometimes even quadrupled daily. The worst day of COVID in the UK was October 4th with over 22,000 infected in one day.
Over the summer, it seemed almost as if the Coronavirus had gone away. With so few cases compared to what it was as well as other humanitarian and racial issues throughout the world, COVID-19 almost took a backseat. However, while many people around the world want to resume their normal lives, some experts advise caution. There is some hope that during the wintertime, the pandemic will die out, but that remains to be seen. While pharmaceutical companies rush to develop and test vaccines, many suggest that, by practicing social distancing and mask-wearing, everyone can all help to slow the spread of this virus.
Fiore, K. (2020, October 17). Has Italy Beaten COVID-19? Retrieved October 19, 2020, from https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19/87446
The New York Times. (2020, April 16). United Kingdom Covid Map and Case Count. Retrieved October 19, 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/world/europe/united-kingdom-coronavirus-cases.html
The New York Times. (2020, March 03). Covid in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count. Retrieved October 19, 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html