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Coronavirus cases, deaths decline as public asks ‘now what?’

Coronavirus case counts and deaths have broken under important trend lines, just in time for back-to-school season.

The development raises hopes that the virus is currently losing steam, even as mainstream media continues to hawk “record” deaths in some states, and “record” new cases among kids with COVID-19.

On August 10, there were 40,171 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the U.S., down from a peak of 75,821 on July 17, a decline of nearly 50 percent.

The decline in the numbers of deaths was even more dramatic.

On the 10th, the U.S. recorded 432 COVID-related deaths, well off a July 29, post-New York peak of 1,449 deaths, a decline of 70 percent.

More importantly, the numbers of new cases are trending downward for the first time since early June, buttressing President Trump’s claim that the virus is beginning to recede.

Keeping the virus under control from here is the biggest challenge, as experts, politicians and the public ask “now what?”

“We’re now in August,” says the former head of the Center for Disease Control, Tom Frieden, “when many families enjoy the end of summer and turn their attention to going back to school. Opening schools is easy. But keeping them open? That’s only possible if COVID-19 is controlled and schools adapt. Closed schools mean a closed economy, closed minds, and long-term losses in child development.”

Frieden says that the largest obstacle to opening schools is restoring public trust in the health experts who have given so many mixed messages, conflicting advice and data that isn’t very transparent.

He pins some hope on vaccines, while admitting there are dangers to vaccinations, even if they work. 

“[A]dverse events from vaccination may not be apparent until hundreds of thousands or millions of people have been vaccinated, so there can be no shortcuts on safety. Humility is in order” by scientists, he concluded in the New York Times.

He cited as a cautionary tale the H1N1 influenza scare in 1976 that saw a vaccine that was developed quickly and pushed by the federal government, paralyze more than 500 people.

Thus far, experts are quick to claim that shutting down bars, enforcing social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands and other basic sanitary measures are helping to keep the cases low.

But others see it just as part of cycle that will whip through areas, one-by-one.

“The Covid-19 crisis didn’t hit Arizona until later,” said Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey. “We had a very difficult June, we’ve had a much better July.”

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