U.S. Passes 4 Million Coronavirus Cases
The U.S. surpassed four million coronavirus cases on Thursday, a little more than two weeks after it hit three million confirmed cases.
The number of hospitalizations is also on the rise. Around 59,600 people were hospitalized with the virus on Wednesday, according to COVID Tracking Project data reported by CNN. That's only around 300 fewer than during the previous peak in mid-April.
"We've rolled back essentially two months' worth of progress with what we're seeing in number of cases ... in the United States," Dr. Ali Khan, dean of the University of Nebraska Medical Center's College of Public Health, told CNN on Thursday.
It took more than three months for the U.S. to move from its first reported case to one million cases April 28, The New York Times reported. It took another 43 days for the country to hit two million cases June 10, 27 days to hit three million July 7 and just 16 days to reach four million Thursday. (Johns Hopkins figures put the time between three and four million cases at 15 days, according to CNN). Cases are now rising by an average of more than 2,600 per hour, according to Reuters, the highest rate in the world.
The US coronavirus epidemic went from: 1 to 1 million cases in 99 days 1 million to 2 million cases in 43 days 2… https://t.co/945kDh4dgW— Eric Feigl-Ding (@Eric Feigl-Ding)1595576029.0
Deaths are also increasing. The country reported more than 1,100 deaths for the third day in a row Thursday. However, that number falls below the 2,000 or so deaths a day reported in April. Still, the U.S. has now confirmed 144,305 deaths from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University data as of Friday morning. That's nearly double the next-highest death toll in Brazil.
It's also much higher than initial expert projections.
"Nationwide, a total of 82,141 COVID-19 deaths (range of 39,174 to 141,995) are currently projected through the epidemic's first wave. US COVID-19 deaths are estimated to rise through April 15, the country's projected peak of deaths per day," a model from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predicted in late March, as NPR reported.
The U.S. has now passed the upper end of that projected death toll and the first wave is not yet over.
Cases are currently rising in 39 states, as well as Washington, DC, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to The New York Times. Especially hard-hit states include California, Florida and Texas, which have all reported high case counts, according to NPR. Arizona and Louisiana have also reported high numbers of cases relative to their populations.
Florida broke its record for the most new deaths in a single day Thursday with 173 reported. Its hospitals are also feeling the strain. Intensive care units (ICUs) have reached capacity in more than 50 of them, and only 15 percent of the state's ICU beds remain available, CNN reported.
"Any spike in cases or increase in hospitalizations is going to put our ER system and hospital systems in peril," Tampa, Florida emergency room physician Dr. Damian Caraballo told CNN.
President Donald Trump on Thursday reversed course and said he would cancel the portion of the Republican National Convention scheduled to take place in Jacksonville, Florida in August, The New York Times reported. He had pushed party officials to move it there because the original site North Carolina would not promise large crowds.
"The timing for this event is not right," Trump said, as Reuters reported. "It's just not right with what's happened recently, the flare-up in Florida. To have a big convention it's not the right time."
The decision comes as Trump has begun to downplay the pandemic less in recent days, encouraging measures like face masks, The New York Times pointed out.
At least 41 states now require face coverings, and some experts think a combination of masks and social distancing can get the outbreak back under control, according to CNN.
This is essentially the strategy proposed by U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir.
"We have to do our mitigation steps: Wear a mask, avoid the crowds. We won't see hospitalizations and deaths go down for a couple of weeks because (they are) lagging indicators, but we are turning that tide," he told the Fox News Network in an interview reported by Reuters.
But some public health experts want the country to go further. More than 150 medical experts, teachers, nurses and others have signed a letter sent to the Trump administration, prominent Congresspeople and state governors Thursday calling for another lockdown to restart efforts to control the virus, as CNN reported.
With uncontrolled spread of #COVID19 in many parts of the U.S., it's time to shut it down, start over, and do it ri… https://t.co/IWm5Ypiiys— U.S. PIRG (@U.S. PIRG)1595342455.0
"In March, people went home and stayed there for weeks, to keep themselves and their neighbors safe. You didn't use the time to set us up to defeat the virus. And then you started to reopen anyway, and too quickly," the letter said. "Right now we are on a path to lose more than 200,000 American lives by November 1st. Yet, in many states people can drink in bars, get a haircut, eat inside a restaurant, get a tattoo, get a massage, and do myriad other normal, pleasant, but non-essential activities."
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By Katherine Kornei
Clear-cutting a forest is relatively easy—just pick a tree and start chopping. But there are benefits to more sophisticated forest management. One technique—which involves repeatedly harvesting smaller trees every 30 or so years but leaving an upper story of larger trees for longer periods (60, 90, or 120 years)—ensures a steady supply of both firewood and construction timber.
A Pattern in the Rings<p>The <a href="https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/coppice-standards-0" target="_blank">coppice-with-standards</a> management practice produces a two-story forest, said <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Bernhard_Muigg" target="_blank">Bernhard Muigg</a>, a dendrochronologist at the University of Freiburg in Germany. "You have an upper story of single trees that are allowed to grow for several understory generations."</p><p>That arrangement imprints a characteristic tree ring pattern in a forest's upper story trees (the "standards"): thick rings indicative of heavy growth, which show up at regular intervals as the surrounding smaller trees are cut down. "The trees are growing faster," said Muigg. "You can really see it with your naked eye."</p><p>Muigg and his collaborators characterized that <a href="https://ltrr.arizona.edu/about/treerings" target="_blank">dendrochronological pattern</a> in 161 oak trees growing in central Germany, one of the few remaining sites in Europe with actively managed coppice-with-standards forests. They found up to nine cycles of heavy growth in the trees, the oldest of which was planted in 1761. The researchers then turned to a historical data set — more than 2,000 oak <a href="https://eos.org/articles/podcast-discovering-europes-history-through-its-timbers" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">timbers from buildings and archaeological sites</a> in Germany and France dating from between 300 and 2015 — to look for a similar pattern.</p>
A Gap of 500 Years<p>The team found wood with the characteristic coppice-with-standards tree ring pattern dating to as early as the 6th century. That was a surprise, Muigg and his colleagues concluded, because the first mention of this forest management practice in historical documents occurred only roughly 500 years later, in the 13th century.</p><p>It's probable that forest management practices were not well documented prior to the High Middle Ages (1000–1250), the researchers suggested. "Forests are mainly mentioned in the context of royal hunting interests or donations," said Muigg. Dendrochronological studies are particularly important because they can reveal information not captured by a sparse historical record, he added.</p><p>These results were <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-78933-8" target="_blank">published in December in <em>Scientific Reports</em></a>.</p><p>"It's nice to see the longevity and the history of coppice-with-standards," said <a href="https://www.teagasc.ie/contact/staff-directory/s/ian-short/" target="_blank">Ian Short</a>, a forestry researcher at Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority in Ireland, not involved in the research. This technique is valuable because it promotes conservation and habitat biodiversity, Short said. "In the next 10 or 20 years, I think we'll see more coppice-with-standards coming back into production."</p><p>In the future, Muigg and his collaborators hope to analyze a larger sample of historic timbers to trace how the coppice-with-standards practice spread throughout Europe. It will be interesting to understand where this technique originated and how it propagated, said Muigg, and there are plenty of old pieces of wood waiting to be analyzed. "There [are] tons of dendrochronological data."</p><p><em><a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Katherine Kornei</a> is a freelance science journalist covering Earth and space science. Her bylines frequently appear in Eos, Science, and The New York Times. Katherine holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.</em></p><p><em>This story originally appeared in <a href="https://eos.org/articles/tree-rings-reveal-how-ancient-forests-were-managed" target="_blank">Eos</a></em> <em>and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.</em></p>
Earth's ice is melting 57 percent faster than in the 1990s and the world has lost more than 28 trillion tons of ice since 1994, research published Monday in The Cryosphere shows.
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Noreen Nunez lives in a middle-class neighborhood that rises up a hillside in Trinidad's Tunapuna-Piarco region.