Tips for Americans from Far Away on How to Control the Coronavirus This Holiday Weekend

Just a couple of months ago, the outbreak of coronavirus in the US was serious, but it was not such a different picture in Europe. Now, once the most affected European nations like Italy, the United Kingdom, France and Spain have their outbreaks under control while the situation in the United States is still grim.

There is much to learn from the affected countries that managed to change things, as well as from those that were so fast and organized that they almost eradicated the virus.

Here are some tips from abroad on how Americans can move forward.

Don’t party like it’s 1999

It can be tempting to spend July 4th with dozens of friends at a bar, at a pool, or at a party at home. But from what we know about how the virus spreads, meeting in large groups, especially indoors, could be dangerous.

In South Korea, celebrated for offering a model response to the virus, the reopening of nightclubs in the capital Seoul prompted an increase in cases in May. The city was forced to close all bars and clubs soon after.

The difference is that South Korea had the virus so well controlled and had such a well-oiled test and trace system that authorities were able to contact most of the affected people and contain the pool of cases.

In the US, sudden increases in case numbers have also forced closure, but many states do not have enough contact trackers to ensure the same containment.
We also know, even from the experience of the United States, that bars and nightclubs can be a breeding ground for the spread of the virus. More than 150 cases have been linked to a bar in Michigan.

Reopening plans have varied state by state, but overall, the United States has reopened much faster than affected countries in Europe. In the UK, for example, pubs will only start reopening on Saturday, 15 weeks after they were ordered to close and the UK curve is clearly flattening out. That can no longer be said about the curve in the US, and bars in many states have been open for a long time.

Arizona closed the hospitality venues on March 20. But since restaurants were allowed to reopen on May 11, many bar owners in the greater Phoenix area found an escape by serving food so they could also reopen. Essentially, there was only a seven-week closure of bars there, compared to 15 in the UK. Arizona now has one of the country’s most dramatic peaks in cases.

Therefore, waiting this weekend in closed places with large crowds will help prevent the spread of the virus. In many states, the number of crowds is limited to less than 100, or 50, or even 10, and some have forced the closure of bars again.

Wear that mask

There have been many conflicting messages about whether wearing a mask protects you from transmitting or trapping Covid-19, and the World Health Organization (WHO) initially does not recommend the use of facial covers. In the United States, the issue has also become politicized: President Trump is never photographed with one and has been reluctant to tell Americans to do so.
Seven reasons to wear a mask this July 4th weekend

But the tide is turning. Health experts now largely agree that masks are useful, especially when a virus is widespread in communities. The WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States now recommend the use of masks in public spaces.

Several studies show that the use of facial coatings is effective, but they have not yet been peer reviewed and there is simply no existing data on the success they have had in this pandemic.

However, it has been pointed out time and time again that some Asian countries more used to responding to infectious respiratory diseases have widespread use of masks in their populations, a practice that studies show helped prevent transmission during the SARS outbreak. in 2003. SARS is a respiratory disease also caused by a type of coronavirus.

Outside of Asia, Germany was one of the fastest countries to adopt mandatory mask wear across the country, while much of the world was still debating its effectiveness. There are many reasons for Germany’s success in keeping its death rate low and slowing down its infections, but at least part of its success has been attributed to the use of facial covers.

Even Trump’s most loyal supporters, including Vice President Mike Pence, are starting to wear face covers. Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Thursday ordered most people in the state to mask themselves in public, as the state experience is one of the worst waves of infection in the country. Other states, like California, have also issued public service announcements encouraging people to use them.

Even if your state has not made wearing a mask, if you know there are cases in your community, you can still use one. There are even easy ways to do it yourself.

Get tested if you think you should

At the start of the outbreak, it was virtually impossible to get tested in the US unless he had been hospitalized. That has changed, and while there may be obstacles, the evidence is more accessible than before.

President Trump made the discredited argument that the country should lessen the evidence to keep its case numbers low. The WHO has reiterated that testing is key to keeping the virus under control. The places that have had some of the most successful responses (South Korea, Germany, Iceland, New Zealand, and Australia), among others, have been evaluated at a high rate.

The CDC’s advice is that if you have symptoms, you should call your healthcare provider and ask if a test is recommended. Even some asymptomatic people should be tested in some specific circumstances.

As cases in the Florida Peak, for example, the White House coronavirus coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, urged all Floridians who had attended mass meetings in the past four weeks to get tested, even if not have symptoms.

Quarantine when requested (and sometimes even when not)

Widespread testing goes hand in hand with effective tracking, tracking and quarantine systems.

The idea is that anyone who has come into contact with an infected person will be notified by the authorities and request quarantine, usually for 14 days. That means that if you have been infected, even if you have no symptoms, you will probably not pass it on to anyone outside your home.

How to celebrate a fun Fourth of July at home

The United States as a whole is struggling to have enough contact trackers to have an effective system in place, as are other countries, including the United Kingdom. CDC aimed to have 30 contact trackers for every 100,000 people in the country.

According to Nephron Research, an independent healthcare research firm that has been monitoring contact tracing in all states, only six states and the District of Columbia have exceeded that threshold. They are: Utah (37), South Dakota (39), New York (49), North Dakota (46), Nebraska (38), Massachusetts (36) and the District of Columbia (42). All other states are neglected, which means that cases are likely to go undetected.

This is particularly troubling for eight states that are hotspots for Covid-19: Nevada (13), Florida (7), Arizona (5), Idaho (14), Texas (11), Tennessee (9), Georgia (2) and South Carolina (8).

If your state has not yet established an effective contact tracking system, there is no reason why you cannot request a test if you suspect that you may have come in contact with an infected person.

In the meantime, it might make sense to keep your July 4 plans modest and continue practicing social distancing until the US gets the virus under control.

CNN’s Jacqueline Howard and Natalie Croker contributed to this report.