A million dead, New York coming back to life… Where are we with the epidemic?

It was unimaginable two years ago. After several months of decline in the coronavirus pandemic, the United States, officially the most bereaved country in the world, has been recording a daily rebound in the number of cases for the past month due to subvariants of Omicron. The United States thus crossed the threshold of one million deaths from Covid-19 on Thursday. 20 minutes traces for you two years of epidemic which brought New York to its knees but which the White House hopes to turn the page today.

What is the quantified assessment of the Covid-19 epidemic in the United States?

The United States is the first country to exceed the terrible milestone of one million coronavirus deaths. With more than one million deaths nationwide, the coronavirus has killed about one in every 330 Americans, one of the highest death rates among developed countries. [environ un sur 379 au Royaume-Uni, ou un sur 455 en France]. In all, more than 203,000 children in the United States have lost a parent or other person in their care. So many figures to be taken with caution, the experts assuring that the true toll of the epidemic in the United States is certainly higher.

At the height of the Omicron wave, the country also recorded more than 800,000 cases per day on average, for a total which now stands at more than 82 million cases, but this figure is probably underestimated, in particular taking into account the lack of tests at the start of the epidemic and now the success of self-tests, which are not systematically reported to the authorities.

Finally, the rate of contamination in the United States is going up, possibly under the effect of sub-variants of Omicron. While it had dropped to 25,000 daily cases in March, the country is now recording a seven-day average of some 78,000 cases, according to the main American health agency.

Where are we in New York, epicenter of the first wave?

If the western United States was hit first, New York, located on the East Coast, took the brunt of the impact of the virus. From a city that never sleeps, the Big Apple has become a dead city, with its dead piled up in refrigerated trucks, its deserted streets, etc.

The more affluent inhabitants left the city, while the less privileged confined themselves. About 40,000 New Yorkers have lost their lives to Covid-19 since the spring of 2020. Lacking customers for months, thousands of small businesses have closed, their windows still covered with wooden planks or of posters of real estate agents.

Masks sold on the street in Brooklyn (New York), March 31, 2020. – Braulio Jatar / SOPA Images/Sipa

Today, New Yorkers remain on their toes. The mask is still very common on the street and indoors – and compulsory in transport. And teleworking has become a habit: according to the weekly barometer of the security company Kastle, the office occupancy rate in New York still peaks at 38%.

Still, New York seems in this month of May 2022 to have regained its legendary effervescence. New Yorkers, American and foreign tourists return to the theaters of Broadway, photograph themselves under the giant signs of Times Square, climb the Statue of Liberty, etc. Midday and evening, traffic has become hellish again in the center of Manhattan.

Masks, still at the heart of divisions?

In the politically very polarized United States, few social issues have split as much as masks or vaccines. Between progressives defending physical distancing, masks and injections, and conservatives rejecting any intrusion by the authorities into their individual freedoms, the battle raged to the top of the state, between a Donald Trump who only wore the mask backwards and a Joe Biden vaccine champion.

From schools to planes, to businesses, the question of the mask has led to many disputes, which have sometimes gone as far as gunshots. Latest twist to date: a Florida judge appointed by Donald Trump lifted the obligation to wear a mask in public transport in April, a decision which the federal government has appealed.

What about vaccines and vaccination?

Criticized for his slow reaction or the way he first minimized the scale of the disaster to come, ex-president Donald Trump then contributed to the development of a vaccine by launching the “Warp speed” initiative . This operation consisted in injecting billions of dollars of public money into the search for a vaccine, in particular allowing pharmaceutical companies to conduct their expensive clinical trials.

The result: the first vaccines – those from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna – were urgently authorized by the US Medicines Agency in mid-December 2020, less than a year after the first cases in China were made public. .

The fact remains that the country which lifted the obligation to wear a mask, now simply advised indoors, is experiencing a rebound in the number of cases due to sub-variants of Omicron. However, its effects seem less serious on a population completely vaccinated at 66%, and more than 90% for those over 65, while a fourth dose of vaccine is only open for the moment to those over 50. years. “We must remain vigilant in the face of this pandemic and do everything we can to save as many lives as possible, as we have done with more tests, vaccines and treatments than ever before”, released this Thursday the US President Joe Biden in a statement while chairing a virtual global immunization summit.

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