By PHIL MARCELO, CARLA K. JOHNSON and LISA MARIE PANE
BOSTON (AP) — Big house parties, no-mask weddings, crowded bars and restaurants — there are reasons the U.S. has racked up more than 155,000 coronavirus deaths, by far the most of any country, and is fast approaching an off-the-charts 5 million confirmed infections, easily the highest in the world.
Many Americans have resisted wearing masks and social distancing, calling such precautions an over-the-top response or an infringement on their liberty.
Public health experts say such behavior has been compounded by confusing and inconsistent guidance from politicians and a patchwork quilt of approaches to containing the scourge by county, state and federal governments.
“The thing that’s maddening is country after country and state after state have shown us how we can contain the virus,” said Dr. Jonathan Quick of the Duke Global Health Institute, who is leading a pandemic initiative for the Rockefeller Foundation. “It’s not like we don’t know what works. We do.”
The number of confirmed infections in the U.S. has topped 4.7 million, with new cases running at over 60,000 a day.
While that’s down from a peak of well over 70,000 in the second half of July, cases are rising in 26 states, many in the South and West, and deaths are climbing in 35 states.
On average, the number of COVID-19 deaths per day in the U.S. over the past two weeks has gone from about 780 to 1,056, according to an Associated Press analysis.
In Virginia, cases have surged so much in cities like Norfolk and Virginia Beach that Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam placed limits last week on the region’s alcohol sales and gatherings of more than 50 people.
Northam, the nation’s only governor who is a doctor, cited rising infections among young people and said the problem is that “too many people are selfish.”
“We all know that alcohol changes your judgment,” he said. “You just don’t care as much about social distancing after you’ve had a couple of drinks. That’s when the virus gets spread.”