For nations like South Korea and New Zealand, the rapid institution of testing and case tracing, mixed with social distancing, allowed outbreaks of COVID-19 to be addressed and, in the latter case, completely extinguished. Countries like Italy, Spain, and France, where the explosion of cases was severe and widespread, applied weeks of enforced, nationally supported lockdowns to break the back of a spiraling epidemic, reduce the number of new cases by orders of magnitude, and allow cautious restoration of their economies. Even the U.K., after a series of false starts, bad plans, and calls for stiff-upper-lip human sacrifices, got their act together when Prime Minister Boris Johnson became a believer through personal experience.
And then there’s the United States. Almost four months after the initial surge of virus blindsided states that didn’t understand the extent of spread that had happened in the ignorance generated by zero testing, the COVID-19 epidemic is burning more brightly than ever before. That’s happening in spite of every warning and all the knowledge that should have been gained over those intervening months. And it’s blazing at such a level that on Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that this fire can’t be brought under control. The United States simply has “too much virus” to contain.
As MSNBC reports, these disheartening words came courtesy of the principal deputy director of the CDC, Dr. Anne Schuchat. “We’re not in the situation of New Zealand or Singapore or Korea where a new case is rapidly identified and all the contacts are traced and people are isolated who are sick and people who are exposed are quarantined and they can keep things under control,” said Schuchat. “We have way too much virus across the country for that right now, so it’s very discouraging.”