How can you get hold of these numbers? The New York Times tried hundreds of thousands of black dots on its front page. At the front of the “Washington Post”, graphic artists showed how much the war memorials in the capital would have to grow to commemorate the new victims. And on the stairs at the White House, Joe Biden had 500 candles lighted – one candle each for a thousand dead.
The USA passed the threshold of 500,000 corona deaths on Monday evening. “That’s more casualties than in World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined,” said Biden, who gave an emotional speech on the occasion that was intended to comfort a troubled nation.
The USA complains of significantly more corona deaths and confirmed cases than any other country on earth. In the past twelve months, on average, one American died of Covid every minute. The nation crossed the historic mark at a time when it was once again looking forward to a possible end to the pandemic. Suddenly amazing trends for the better can be discerned.
Roller coaster of emotions
Corona is plunging the USA into an emotional rollercoaster these days. Now horror and dullness, caution and recklessness are vying for supremacy. Biden therefore warned his nation: “We must fight against becoming deaf to suffering.”
Joe Biden and wife Jill at the White House commemoration: “Dark, harrowing milestone.” (Source: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)
At the same time, the number of infections is falling, not just slightly, but significantly. This also relieves the pressure on the intensive care units, which in many places operated at capacity limits in December and January. This is a noticeable finding, after all, the rules to contain the pandemic are not nearly as strict as in Germany and many European countries.
More precisely, there are not even many nationally applicable rules. Most of it is left to the individual states. In the capital Washington, for example, restaurants have been open again for four weeks; they are also allowed to occupy 25 percent of the seats indoors. And while in large parts of the world professional sport takes place without spectators, at the Super Bowl a good two weeks ago the stadium was a third full. Much in America remains relaxed.
Radical change of course
Nevertheless, reasons for the trend reversal can be identified:
When Joe Biden took office, a completely new corona policy has entered the White House. Predecessor Donald Trump played down the virus from the beginning and until the end. Trump himself did not wear a mask and disregarded the corona rules at his events. He didn’t make fighting the pandemic a priority. Biden, on the other hand, focused on the topic from the start. He keeps asking Americans to wear masks and sets a good example.
In fact, it can be seen that some appeals are bearing fruit: Mobility data shows that Americans travel significantly less than usual after Christmas. You could say: Americans changed their behavior late, but now noticeably.
Every eighth person is already vaccinated
Second, immunity is significantly higher in America, which is – at this moment – a positive consequence of the many infections over the past year. More than 28 million corona cases are registered, and because the number of unreported cases is many times higher, the US health authority assumes that up to 30 percent of Americans were infected. Infection usually results in months of immunity. This is by no means the much-cited herd immunity, but it should make the spread of the virus more difficult.
And then the USA will already feel the effect of the vaccine. The vaccination goes much better than in Germany, for example. More than 13 percent of the population have had their first vaccination – that’s more than one in eight Americans. Almost six percent have already received the necessary two doses by injection. In Germany this is only the case with four percent.
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The US benefits from the fact that the Trump administration spent a lot of money on the production and purchase of vaccines. However, they failed to come up with a concept for the delivery. That is why the vaccination campaign stuttered heavily in America at first.
Vaccinations also in supermarkets
The Biden administration has made up for it and is now vaccinating more than the promised one million Americans a day. On average, over the past seven days, 1.37 million Americans were injected with a Covid vaccine every day – despite the winter storms that paralyzed many parts of the country. The military is helping, and vaccinations are also given in pharmacies and supermarkets, as is common in the USA.
If the vaccine from the pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson is released at the beginning of March, as expected, things would go even faster: because this vaccine only has to be administered once.
The se are all developments that are encouraging. At the same time, Americans’ impatience is growing noticeably: Biden’s experts, such as the chief medical advisor Anthony Fauci, are pestered every day with questions about when all Americans would be vaccinated – and when normality will return.
Warnings about the mutants
Fauci recently had to correct himself several times. Biden himself promised a return to normal for the coming Christmas party, but added: “I can’t make any promises.”
You know: in general, the spread of the virus in the USA remains high. And the effects of the virus mutations cannot yet be assessed. The US health authority CDC warns that the British mutant will become the “dominant variant” in the US by the end of March.
And as much as the number of cases may have fallen compared to December and January, they remain high. Well over a thousand Americans still die of Covid every day.