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The United States is approaching 5 million virus cases

BOSTON (AP) – Large house parties, masked weddings, crowded bars and restaurants – there are reasons why the United States has recorded more than 155,000 corona virus deaths, by far most in one country, and quickly becoming an off-the-country Charts are approaching 5 million confirmed infections, by far the highest in the world.

Many Americans have refused to wear masks and social distance, and have called such precautions an exaggerated response or violation of their freedom. Public health experts say that such behavior has been reinforced by confusing and inconsistent guidelines from politicians and a number of approaches to curbing the scourge by district, state, and federal governments.

“The crazy thing is that country by country and state by state has shown us how we can contain the virus,”

; said Dr. Jonathan Quick of the Duke Global Health Institute, who leads a pandemic initiative for the Rockefeller Foundation. “It’s not that we don’t know what works. We do that. “

The number of confirmed infections in the United States has exceeded 4.7 million, with the number of new cases being over 60,000 per day. While this dropped from a high of well over 70,000 in the second half of July, cases are increasing in 26 states, many in the south and west, and deaths are increasing in 35 states.

According to an analysis by the Associated Press, the number of COVID-19 deaths per day in the US has increased from about 780 to 1,056 in the past two weeks.

In Massachusetts, health officials are investigating at least half a dozen new cases related to events such as a lifeguard party, high school graduation, a prom party, an unapproved soccer camp, and a crowded harbor tour.

A recent Cape Cod house party has resulted in more than a dozen new cases and has caused some restaurants to close or cut service at the peak of the tourist season because workers had attended the gathering.

Elsewhere in the state, a Springfield hospital is dealing with an outbreak of more than 40 cases related to an employee who recently returned from a vacation outside the state and spread the virus to colleagues over lunch in a break room.

Hot spots in the United States appear in places that were once considered ideal places for the outbreak: rural, less populated and with a lot of space outdoors. In South Dakota, a peak broke out in a Christian youth summer camp in the Black Hills, with the number of cases among 328 participants rising to 96.

“We have reached a point where COVID-19 is so widespread that people in the United States are more likely to come across the virus and be exposed,” said the University of Florida epidemiologist, Dr. Cindy Prins.

She added, “This is currently a behavioral disorder for many people.” Prevention means “changing our behavior and it is so difficult for people to do. We are social beings. “

President Donald Trump’s public statements during the crisis were characterized by optimism that contradicted the facts on the ground. In April, he assured the Americans that “in new cases we have passed the climax and are starting our lives again”. In May, when the death toll exceeded 80,000, he said the country had “reached the moment and we have prevailed.”

In Virginia, the number of cases in cities like Norfolk and Virginia Beach has increased so much that Democratic Governor Ralph Northam set limits on alcohol sales and gatherings of more than 50 people in the region last week. Northam, the nation’s only governor who is a doctor, cited increasing infections among young people and said the problem was that “too many people are selfish.”

“We all know that alcohol changes your judgment,” he said. “Social distance is just less important to you after drinking a few drinks. Then the virus spreads. “

Dr. Demetria Lindsay, Virginia Health Department District Director for Virginia Beach and Norfolk, said there has been a significant increase in distance between people ages 20 and 29.

“Father’s Day, Remembrance Day, graduations, birthdays, garden grills as you call it,” said Lindsay.

Almost a quarter of the more than 55,000 cases in Wisconsin have been confirmed in the past 14 days. Much of the tip has occurred in the densely urban southeast corner of the state, but the disease has spread at astonishing pace in the rural and sparsely populated north of Wisconsin.

Zona Wick, a spokeswoman and contact tracer for the Iron County Department of Health, blamed July 4 gatherings, birthday and graduation celebrations, out-of-town visitors, and people crowding in bars.

“Fourth of July was tough for us,” said Wick. “People had a bit of quarantine fatigue, as I call it. People are a little tired of staying here. People got together for years like on July 4th and spread it among themselves. “

Even more sobering are the numbers in Barron County, a county with 45,000 inhabitants, about 75 miles northeast of Minneapolis. As of Monday, there were 259 confirmed cases, more than 70% of them in the past two weeks.

Sarah Turner, a county public health specialist, attributed much of the increase to an outbreak in a food processing facility, but also cited crowded bars and family celebrations.

“We were hoping that rural areas and greater distribution would protect the county,” but that’s not the case, “she said.” Like everywhere and everywhere at the moment, there are people who are not interested in health measures a little out of sight, out of mind. People don’t take it seriously if it’s not on your face. “

The wedding industry also sees masked receptions with busy dance floors and no social distance.

Wedding planner Lynne Goldberg has planned a wedding in December for 200 guests at the home of the bride’s parents in New York State.

“They have made it clear that this pandemic will not stand in the way of their wedding plans and that no masks and signs of social distancing will be distributed at their wedding,” she said. “The bride said that when she shows her kids her wedding video, she doesn’t want it to be a documentary of the 2020 pandemic.”

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Marcelo reported from Boston, Johnson from Washington State and Pane from Boise, Idaho.

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