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Get ready for another coronavirus lockdown in the US

Published Jul 22nd, 2020 2:04PM EDT
Coronavirus lockdown
Image: AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

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  • Is a new wave of coronavirus lockdowns inevitable? One health expert thinks so, for the reason you might guess — that the US response to the coronavirus pandemic has been so atrociously bad.
  • Even President Trump acknowledged as much in a press conference Tuesday, resigned to the fact that the pandemic is going to get worse before it gets better.
  • According to the latest data, more than 142,000 people to-date have died in the US from the coronavirus.

In his press conference yesterday, President Trump — in addition to finally acknowledging, after almost 4 million coronavirus cases have been identified here and more than 142,000 people have died, that people should wear face masks — offered what is perhaps the understatement of the year relative to the coronavirus pandemic. The outbreak, Trump admitted, is probably going to get worse before it gets better. “Some areas of the country are doing very well, others doing less well,” he said. “It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better. I don’t like saying that, but that’s the way it is.”

It’s time, however, to acknowledge an even starker reality, now that out of every 100 Americans, more than one has had or has the novel coronavirus, according to TheStreet. In an email to the publication, Prof. Richard H. Ebright, the laboratory director at the Waksman Institute of Microbiology and a professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Rutgers University, put it like this: “A second US lockdown has become almost inevitable” to get the virus under control.

It gets worse. Ebright (who was also elected as an Infectious Diseases Society of America fellow back in 2011) said he thinks this will result in new lockdowns in most and maybe even all US states in the second half of this year, “possibly as early as August to September 2020.” Moreover, those lockdowns will almost surely be “tighter and longer” than the first wave of lockdowns across the country.

If he’s right, there’s no way to sugarcoat it. This is exceedingly terrible news, on at least two fronts. No one needs to be reminded of the cascade of pain that followed the first lockdowns. Scores of businesses went under, for example, after being unable to pay the costs of keeping their doors open when customer demand suddenly evaporated. And there’s a direct line you can draw from the financial catastrophe of those lockdowns to the new stimulus bill that congressional leaders started working on this week.

New lockdowns, meanwhile, would also serve as a bright, blinking red indicator light for all to see that the US has failed spectacularly at confronting the worst national crisis in generations. Moreover, everything that got us to this point, including the initial wave of lockdowns, has generated such exasperation and even a bit of fatalism among vast swaths of the population that aren’t taking the virus seriously enough, that who knows what the response to a new lockdown would be.

For his part, Ebright says there will be one thing that’s “essential” to breaking the cycle of locking down and reopening — the arrival of a vaccine. At least one of which should be arriving on the scene later this year or in early 2021.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.