May 11, 2020 - Health

South Korea's new outbreak should be a warning

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

South Korea — a model for how to handle the coronavirus well — has had to re-tighten some of its commercial restrictions as on Sunday it reported the biggest-single day increase in cases it has seen in over a month with 34 new cases.

Why it matters: The U.S., by contrast, is seeing roughly 25,000 new cases per day — a discrepancy that far outstrips the differences in population between the two countries.

  • What happened in South Korea is pretty much what you'd expect: An infected person went to several clubs in one night. He is believed to have infected 43 fellow clubgoers, who in turn infected another 11 people, per NPR.

We will almost certainly see much bigger subsequent waves of infection here in the U.S., where the focus is on reopening — even in nursing homes. We're already seeing full flights again, and our adherence to social distancing has never been uniform.

  • There's even a risk of an outbreak within the White House — close quarters where many people are still showing up to work and few are wearing masks.
  • Two West Wing workers have tested positive, prompting a slew of senior officials to self-quarantine — including, per the New York Times, CDC director Robert Redfield, FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn, and the NIH's Anthony Fauci.
  • Eleven Secret Service employees also have the coronavirus, Yahoo News reports.

Between the lines: The White House is a model of what it would look like to go back to work with ample testing and ample protections, which most of the country will not have.

My thought bubble: The coronavirus can gain a foothold even in the most highly guarded workplace in the country. We've seen in South Korea that a return to normal life can open the door to a new outbreak, even after things seemed under control. We know they're not under control here.

  • We know this is a highly contagious virus, and we know that distance from other people is the only real protection at this point.
  • In other words, we know what awaits us as we reopen.

Go deeper: U.S. coronavirus caseload has held steady

Go deeper

10 hours ago - Health

Lessons from the lockdown — and what comes next

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

We are nowhere near finished with the coronavirus, but the next phases of our response will — if we do it right — be more targeted and risk-based than the sweeping national lockdown we’re now emerging from.

Why it matters: Our experience battling this new virus has taught us a lot about what does and doesn’t work. We’ll have to apply those lessons rigorously, and keep adapting, if we have any hope of containing the virus and limiting the number of deaths from here on out.

23 hours ago - World

U.S. sends Brazil 2 million doses of hydroxychloroquine and 1,000 ventilators

President Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images

The White House announced on Sunday that the U.S. has sent 2 million doses of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine to Brazil and that 1,000 ventilators will soon be delivered as well as the South American country becomes the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.

The big picture: The situation in Brazil, which has reported over 498,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 28,000 deaths, is threatening to spiral out of control as far-right President Jair Bolsonaro faces mounting criticism for downplaying the severity of the virus.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

Health experts fear that the protests breaking out across the U.S. could contribute to the spread of the coronavirus.

The state of play: Being outside may limit the danger, but close quarters, yelling, and potential exposure to tear gas, which causes coughing and crying, increase the risk of spread. It's recommended that those who are protesting be tested for the coronavirus.