Correspondent in New York
Yesterday the USA celebrated the ‘Labor Day‘, a holiday that marks the end of summer and the beginning of the new year. Children return en masse to schools, university students fill the campuses, there are hardly any office workers left on vacation and museums, theaters and concert halls start a new season.
The Summer also begins informally with another holiday, ‘Memorial Day’. This year it fell on May 31. By then, the US was optimistic about the pandemic. The country registered an average of 17,000 cases of Covid per day, well below the 300,000 that it reached at the beginning of the year, in the worst wave of the pandemic. Vaccination, moreover, had advanced strongly (in the US there are plenty of doses) and the vast majority of states had removed almost all business restrictions.
At this rate, it was thought then, in the new course normality will have returned and the pandemic will be almost a bad memory. The children will be able to return to class constantly, the offices will be occupied and the theaters will be filled.
The Delta variant shattered these forecasts. Daily cases exceed 160,000. What’s worse, hospitalizations and deaths have grown dramatically. Delta’s strong contagion capacity, insufficient vaccination levels –only 53% of Americans have the full guideline-, the possibility that vaccines lose efficacy over the months and the removal of restrictions have turned the situation around.
In the last month, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, in its acronym in English), the daily death toll has increased 131% in the last month, about 1,500 people a year. day. Those hospitalized by Covid are almost 90,000, the same level as at the end of January.
The result is that the pandemic takes the reverse path at the end of the summer to which it had begun at the beginning of this. The health authorities ask those vaccinated to wear masks indoors, states like Kansas impose their officials to work from home and vacation destinations, such as Hawaii, ask that tourists not go.
One of the main debates, which coincides with the return of the school year, is what measures to take with minors. According to data from the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than half a million American children have tested positive for Covid in three weeks of the summer, between August 5 and 26.
In the last year, millions of children were without class for months and, when it was thought that in the one that begins there would be more normality, that has been questioned. Since the beginning of the academic year –there are schools that start their classes in mid-August-, closures have been decreed in at least a thousand schools in 35 states.
How to combat Covid in the classroom is the subject of a strong debate. Many parents are virulently opposed to the requirement to wear masks, and some states, such as Arizona, have banned them.
The authorizations insist that vaccination is the best way to protect minors, both those who are of age to be vaccinated and those who are not (in the US the vaccine is authorized from the age of twelve). According to the director of the CDC, Rochelle Walensky, the Delta variant “does not increase its severity” 0 in children, but there are more infections “because there are more cases in your community.” «What is clear from the cases is that a high level of vaccination in the community protects our children“, said.
A CDC report claims that the hospitalization rate for unvaccinated teens is ten times that of those who are vaccinated.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism