From a single case in Snohomish County, Wash., On January 21, the coronavirus has grown like a fungus in less than 10 months to a massive outbreak that now infects nearly 100,000 Americans every day. . As voters on Election Day prepare to vote on Tuesday, the medical examiner in El Paso added a fourth refrigerated “mobile morgue” and hospitals in northwest Wisconsin are canceling the election procedures to reserve beds for patients with covid-19, viral illness.
Two-thirds of the public now know that one in nine.25 million people tested positive for the virus personally ̵1; a new poll found. And even many think the worst has yet to come.
“We’ve never had Election Day in the fog of a pandemic,” said Howard Markel, a medical historian at the University of Michigan. “Maybe it will be called the pandemic election.”
How those factors affect the turnout of voters and the outcome will not be known until evening, and perhaps not for the next few days or weeks. But it’s clear Tuesday will mark a peculiar amalgamation of modern times between the US public health crisis and the presidential election.
“To my knowledge, that’s unprecedented,” said Harvey V. Fineberg, president of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and co-author of “The Unprecedented Pandemic,” an analysis of the influenza vaccination program. federal pig in 1976. “Which means they have no basis for comparison”.
During the 1920 presidential election, voters faced a growing threat from a pandemic flu, the absence of a flu vaccine, and public health as a local issue for which presidential do not interfere. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do not exist. Even in the 1918 election, the pathogen that would eventually kill 675,000 Americans was not the main subject of debate, Markel said.
The periodic flu outbreaks over the following decades did not affect much of the political guide either.
The worst polio outbreaks, in the 1940s and early 1950s, tended to wane as the weather cooled, and the virus was eventually extinguished by successfully testing a vaccine. in 1955.
Even HIV, which drives activists to the streets, has had little impact at election time, at least during the first decade of the epidemic. President Ronald Reagan, who took office in 1981, the year the virus was first discovered, the celebrity wouldn’t say the word “AIDS” until 1987.
Tuesday will be much different.
“I don’t know what it will do in terms of voters,” said Tom Inglesby, director of the Medical Security Center at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.
“What I hope is that people are not afraid to vote directly if they haven’t already,” he added. “Because I think it’s possible to vote in such a way that you can control your risk so that it’s not too different from going to the grocery store or going to the pharmacy.”
That includes voting late in the morning or early afternoon, when crowds are less, wearing a mask, keeping a distance and carrying your own pens and hand sanitizer, he said.
Markel, also a doctor, disagrees with that. He believes that the number of voters to vote on Election Day will decrease, especially among the elderly, who may conclude that it is too risky to show up at the polling stations if they do not take advantage of them. advantages of early voting. He said he is not sure how many voters will be at home.
Viruses are, of course, seen as the cause of the record-setting speeds of early voting, both by mail and in person, before Tuesday’s more traditional voting. By the end of Monday, the early vote count had reached more than 98 million, according to data from The Washington Post.
“One of the ways we can fight anxiety is to control the things we have control over, ”said Joshua A. Gordon, director of the National Institute of Mental Health. “I think that’s why you’re seeing a lot of early voting, say – people are anxious to make sure that the future they want to see happens.
“I voted early and it made me feel a little better that I’ve fulfilled my role, the part I can do to create the future I want to see.”
According to data tracked by The Post, the seven-day average coronavirus infection rate of the US, considered the best measure of prevalence, hit 81,740 on Sunday and nine states set a record number hospitalization. More than 230,000 people have died from covid-19.
In Europe and across the United States, new restrictions have been introduced. In Maine, where daily numbers almost doubled, Governor Janet Mills (D) reversed a plan to allow bars to reopen on Monday and reduce the maximum size of indoor gatherings from 100 people down to 50 people.
“If we don’t control this outburst, we may never get this evil god back in the bottle,” she said on Sunday.
Illinois, which recorded an average of 6,367 new cases per day over the past week, extended restrictions to allow for the in-home eating ban to take effect statewide.
Massachusetts, which averaged seven days of new cases at nearly 1,300 on Sunday compared with 689 cases two weeks earlier, issued a new advice that instructed residents to stay home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. except for required operations. Governor Charlie Baker (R) insisted that he was not shutting down the economy or school.
“I think what we want to say here is that at 10 o’clock, everyone should use their heads and be with the people they live with instead of continuing to prolong the chaos of everyone,” Baker to speak.
On Saturday, the five severely affected Mayo Clinic in northwest Wisconsin began delaying elective procedures such as colonoscopy and routine physical exams to free beds for covid-19 patients. rapidly increasing in the area around Eau Claire. The move is likely to last throughout November, said Richard A. Helmers, Mayo’s regional vice president for health systems.
“Simply put, if we cannot slow the rate of infection, we run the risk of overwhelming our healthcare system,” Jason Craig, Mayo’s regional president, said at Friday press conference. About 230 employees quit their jobs because they were already sick or exposed to coronavirus in the community, he said.
Several European countries have proposed national shutdowns – most recently Germany, where restaurants, bars and entertainment establishments close on Monday in a revised, spring-lock version, at least. more stringent.
But in many parts of the United States, Halloween weekend parties are not stopped. In Utah, authorities said thousands attended a ravenous gathering with multiple DJs on Saturday night, discovered when a woman was knocked unconscious while surfing in the middle of a crowd. , according to KSL.com. Police have also closed parties in the university town of Boulder, Colo., Over the weekend, Denver’s KMGH-TV reported.
On Tuesday, less than a year after the virus emerged from Wuhan, China, spread globally, a voter was anxious to tackle the question of who would lead the next phase of the US pandemic.
“With all this going on now, many of us are feeling quite anxious about our present and future situations,” Gordon said. “It is not surprising considering the level of uncertainty about the pandemic, about the elections, about the racial disputes in America, about the climate – about all of this. Uncertainty generates worry. ”