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Coronavirus ‘out of control’ in southern U.S., expert says

 Lines of cars wait at a drive-through coronavirus testing site, Sunday, July 5, 2020, outside Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. Florida health officials say the state has reached a grim milestone: more than 200,000 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus since the start of the outbreak. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Lines of cars wait at a drive-through coronavirus testing site, Sunday, July 5, 2020, outside Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. Florida health officials say the state has reached a grim milestone: more than 200,000 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus since the start of the outbreak. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) (WCAX)
Published: Jul. 7, 2020 at 7:57 AM EDT
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One health expert says rapid surges in coronavirus cases have made contact tracing impossible across the southern U.S.

Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of tropical medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said on Monday, “The cases are rising so rapidly that we cannot even do contact tracing anymore, I don’t think. I don’t see how it’s possible to even do that. So, essentially, even our limited means of public health control are not possible, so this is, this dramatic acceleration, the epidemic is out of control in the southern part of the United States.”

This rapid rise in cases is considered a surge, not a second wave, because the infection numbers never lowered to where officials hoped they would, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Fauci, the nation's foremost infectious disease expert, said Monday, "We are still knee-deep in the first wave of this."

According to Johns Hopkins University data, more than 2.9 million people in the U.S. had been infected with coronavirus as of Tuesday morning. The virus has killed more than 130,000 people in the U.S.

ASYMPTOMATIC COVID-19 CASES MAY BE DRIVING SPREAD, RESEARCH INDICATES

New research indicates that asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic COVID-19 cases are a primary driver of the virus spreading.

Using existing research, scientists have found that silent transmission could be responsible for half of the COVID-19 cases.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that more than one-third of these infections would need to be identified and isolated to suppress a future outbreak.

Researchers said even immediate isolation of all symptomatic cases would not be enough to get the spread under control.

This model worked off the theory, gleaned from previous studies, that COVID-19 may be most contagious during the pre-symptomatic stage, which is uncommon for a respiratory infection.

“Our findings highlight the urgent need to scale up testing of suspected cases without symptoms as noted in revised guidelines by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” the study said.

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