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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/11/20

U.S. Passes 2 Million Coronavirus Cases as States Lift Restrictions, Raising Fears of a Second Wave

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The number of confirmed U.S. coronavirus cases has officially topped 2 million as states continue to ease stay-at-home orders and reopen their economies and more than a dozen see a surge in new infections. "I worry that what we've seen so far is an under-count and what we're seeing now is really just the beginning of another wave of infections spreading across the country," says Dr. Craig Spencer, director of global health in emergency medicine at Columbia University Medical Center.

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AMY GOODMAN: I certainly look forward to the day you're sitting here in the studio right next to me, but right now the numbers are grim. The number of confirmed U.S. coronavirus cases has officially topped 2 million in the United States, the highest number in the world by far, but public health officials say the true number of infections is certain to be many times greater. Officially, the U.S. death toll is nearing 113,000, but that number is expected to be way higher, as well.

This comes as President Trump has announced plans to hold campaign rallies in several states that are battling new surges of infections, including Florida, Texas, North Carolina and Arizona which saw cases rise from nearly 200 a day last month to more than 1,400 a day this week.

On Tuesday, the country's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, called the coronavirus his worst nightmare.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: Now we have something that indeed turned out to be my worst nightmare: something that's highly transmissible, and in a period -- if you just think about it -- in a period of four months, it has devastated the world. ... And it isn't over yet.

AMY GOODMAN: This comes as Vice President Mike Pence tweeted then deleted a photo of himself on Wednesday greeting scores of Trump 2020 campaign staffers, all of whom were packed tightly together, indoors, wearing no masks, in contravention of CDC guidelines to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Well, for more, we're going directly to Dr. Craig Spencer, director of global health in emergency medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. His recent piece in The Washington Post is headlined "The strange new quiet in New York emergency rooms."

Dr. Spencer, welcome back to Democracy Now! It's great to have you with this, though this day is a very painful one. Cases in the United States have just topped 2 million, though that number is expected to be far higher, with the number of deaths at well over 113,000, we believe, Harvard University predicting that that number could almost double by the end of September. Dr. Craig Spencer, your thoughts on the reopening of this country and what these numbers mean?

DR. CRAIG SPENCER: That's a really good question. So, when you think about those numbers, remember that very early on, in March, in April, when I was seeing this huge surge in New York City emergency departments, we weren't testing. We were testing people that were only being admitted to the hospital, so we were knowingly sending home, all across the epicenter, people that were undoubtedly infected with coronavirus, that are not included in that case total. So you're right: The likely number is much, much higher, maybe 5, 10 times higher than that.

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