French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have reimposed strict lockdown measures on their countries on Wednesday, as Europe endures a massive second wave of coronavirus infections ahead of the region's colder seasons.
"The virus is circulating at a speed that not even the most pessimistic forecasts had anticipated," Macron stated during a televised address, quoted by Reuters. "We are all in the same position: overrun by a second wave which we know will be harder, more deadly than the first. I have decide that we need to return to the lockdown which stopped this virus.
France's new lockdown will go into effect on Friday and will be in place until at least Dec. 1. The restrictions under the new mandate are similar to those imposed last spring--people are to remain in their homes unless they need to purchase essential goods, seek medical attention or exercise. The only notable difference from March's lockdown is that schools will remain open.
Germany's new social restrictions are not as harsh as France's, but still call for all bars, restaurants and theaters to remain closed from Nov. 2 through Nov. 30. Schools will remain open and shops will still be allowed to operate with strict social limits.
Other European nations like Switzerland, Italy and Greece have also closed or set strict curfews on their social nightspots and issued mandatory mask wearing in response to growing caseload. Parts of Spain have also banned all but essential travel in and out of their regions.
In the United States, Admiral Brett Giroir, assistant secretary of health and leader of the Trump administration's COVID testing effort, told NBC's "Today" show on Wednesday that the nation is reaching "another critical point in the pandemic response."
"Cases are going up in most states across the country," Giroir stated. "Hospitalizations are up, although we're still tens of thousands of hospitalizations below where we were in July, but that is rising. And we are starting to see the increase in deaths."
For now, the U.S. seems to be at the precipice of another large wave of coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and deaths, which could lead to enhanced social restriction efforts from local and state level governments. Over the last seven days, the daily average of new cases in the U.S. climbed to a record 71,831 as the virus reaches previously untouched regions in the Midwest. If that number continues to climb, the country may begin to see more nationwide efforts to curb infections.
Over 180 countries have partnered with the COVAX initiative, with the W.H.O. highlighting that at least 78 richer countries like China and the United Kingdom have agreed to help fund the effort. COVAX plans to deliver 2 billion doses of a safe and effective vaccine to participating nations by the end of 2021, with the global health agency intending to provide enough doses for 20% of a nations population in the first distribution round.
Yet, the W.H.O. is competing with wealthy nations like the United States, which has secured potentially millions of doses for their own populations, leaving initial vaccine supplies unable to cope with global demand once approved for public use.