Europe will be locked again for COVID-19, not for the US – Community News
Covid-19

Europe will be locked again for COVID-19, not for the US

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European countries are now looking at business closures and other measures to deal with the latest wave of COVID-19. Akos Stiller/Bloomberg via Getty Images
  • European countries, including Austria, Germany and Portugal, are considering imposing new COVID-19 restrictions as the number of cases increases.
  • The average daily number of new cases is also rising in the United States.
  • However, experts say the United States is unlikely to impose new national restrictions.
  • They say that’s because most COVID-19 decisions are made at the state, county, and city levels.
  • They add that COVID-19 fatigue is present in most parts of the country, so citizens will be reluctant to follow such mandates.

COVID-19 cases are on the rise in many parts of Europe and some countries are already imposing new lockdown measures, while others warn that new restrictions may be on the way.

Austria, one of the least vaccinated countries in Europe, went on a 10-day lockdown for all non-essential businesses on Monday and will make vaccinations mandatory from February 1.

Meanwhile, Germany is also looking at stricter restrictions, as is Portugal.

dr. Anthony Faucic, the top infectious disease expert in the United States, recently warned of a possible “dangerous” winter peak.

But even if that happens, most experts agree that full lockdowns are unlikely to return to the United States.

“Compared to most European countries that have addressed lockdown/restriction strategies at the national level, the United States has left these decisions to the discretion of the state or local public health authorities,” Dr. Manoj Gandhi, a senior medical director of symptomatic testing solutions at Thermo Fisher Scientific, told Healthline.

“With the exception of Sweden, which has not implemented any lockdowns, most European countries have imposed strict national lockdowns, especially at the start of the pandemic.”

Instead, changes are likely to occur at the state, county, or city level.

Parents and concerned citizens in Michigan and New York have called for renewed COVID-19 restrictions as the number of cases has risen again in recent weeks.

“We’re already seeing changes in restrictions across the country,” Dr. Ankush K. Bansal, FACP, a fellow of the American College of Preventive Medicine, told Healthline. “While orders vary, restrictions in multiple places are increasing as cases increase across the country.”

But what form those restrictions will take remains to be seen and are unlikely to include strict measures.

“The political will to do this just isn’t there,” Nicholas B. Creel, PhD, a political scientist and assistant professor of business law at Georgia College and State University, told Healthline. “COVID fatigue is simply too entrenched in the population right now, for the backlash politicians would face as they try to tighten things up again would be career-ending.”

“In addition, the federal government isn’t able to do much about restrictions given our federalist system that largely allows states to dictate policies that directly affect the health of their populations,” Creel added. “So, even if the federal government wanted to take the brunt of imposing unpopular restrictions, it couldn’t really do it in a meaningful way.”

Pandemic mitigation in the United States has followed a patchwork so far, with states sometimes taking different approaches to contain COVID-19.

Some imposed multiple lockdowns, mask mandates and other restrictions. In contrast, other states have actively banned some of those same mitigation strategies.

With lockdowns likely off the table, experts say the United States should instead focus on improving vaccination rates and encouraging people to get vaccine boosters.

The Biden administration has proposed vaccinating employees of companies with 100 or more employees — a measure that covers 100 million American adults. That mandate is now being discussed in the courts.

“Keeping up to routine vaccinations is critical to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases, especially as we enter a particularly perilous period where COVID-19 collides with cold and flu season,” Bansal said.

That’s in addition to maintaining proven mitigation strategies such as physical distancing, masking and hygiene practices, especially if cases increase again.

In the absence of lockdowns, Gandhi said ramping up testing would also be a critical part of pandemic control.

“It’s important to have a comprehensive testing strategy that includes symptomatic and asymptomatic testing in case there is a spike,” he said. “This should include not only identifying whether a person is infected or not, but surveillance testing to identify the type of variant, in case there is an emerging variant that can cause more disease, or worse, evade vaccines.”