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Doctor: US clearly in a 'third wave' of coronavirus infections as COVID-19 fatigue sets in

Adriana Belmonte
·Senior Editor
·3 min read

Rising coronavirus diagnoses across the U.S. aren’t a good sign as major parts of the country grapple with surges in new COVID-19 counts ahead of the flu season.

Last week, the U.S. saw its highest number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations since Sept. 2, while the number of new infections last Thursday topped 60,000, for the first time since early August.

While some have called this a second wave, the country is “not anywhere near” that anymore, according to Dr. Dara Kass, an emergency medicine physician at Columbia University and a Yahoo contributor.

“We must take this very seriously,” Kass told Yahoo Finance Live in an interview on Monday.

“We’re clearly in a third wave if we’re looking at the true overall case counts in the country, realizing that our baseline has gotten higher and higher,” she said. “So as we head into this third wave over the country, we’re still now 40,000 to 50,000 cases a day.”

Cases are up in most parts of the U.S. (Graphic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance)
Cases are up in most parts of the U.S. (Graphic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance)

The gradual reopening of schools have been attributed to a limited number of new cases. However, other factors include businesses reopening, lax social distancing guidelines, and failure to implement mask mandates where necessary constitute the bulk.

Another major factor is that different states have different guidelines in place when it comes to measures that mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“I think that the cases are going up because we’re not really seeing a coordinated response that respects this virus, but also keeps our economy and our populations moving forward,” Kass told Yahoo Finance.

‘It’s an inconvenience to do the hard work’

In some parts of the U.S., businesses have reopened at nearly full capacity. These are the same areas of the country, however, that are seeing surges in cases and hospitalizations.

Meanwhile, restrictions on businesses have become largely politicized as small and medium sized businesses suffer as rising cases lead states and localities to impose tight restrictions on economic activity. President Donald Trump has stated that “the cure cannot be worse than the disease itself,” referring to the economic effects of stay-at-home orders.

Shoppers who refused to wear masks shop at a Walmart store in Bradford, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 20, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Shoppers who refused to wear masks shop at a Walmart store in Bradford, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 20, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

For her part, Kass blasted the “inconvenience to do the hard work,” which entails keeping restrictions on businesses that are at risk of spreading the virus while supporting them financially, she said.

“We’re seeing that bars and restaurants are staying open in hotspot states because the governments are not interested in supporting those businesses through this hard time,” she added.

Another growing problem is what some have dubbed “COVID fatigue” — people getting tired of staying indoors and not being able to resume their everyday life pre-pandemic.

Atealla Betancourt is tested in a car for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during an outbreak, in Austin, Texas, U.S., June 28, 2020. REUTERS/Sergio Flores     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Atealla Betancourt is tested in a car for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during an outbreak, in Austin, Texas, U.S., June 28, 2020. REUTERS/Sergio Flores TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Despite the emphasis on masks, “the hardest conversations I have are with people who have been exposed in their communities, thought they were doing the right thing, and are just really tired of the COVID fatigue,” Kass said.

These people “really aren’t interested in quarantining for 14 days if they’re not entirely sure they’ve been exposed,” she added. “That’s the hard work. THat’s actually how we’re going to get this virus under control.”

Adriana Belmonte is a reporter and editor covering politics and health care policy for Yahoo Finance. You can follow her on Twitter @adrianambells.

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