Coronavirus: Google searches spark fears of second wave

Google trends data has suggested that more people are searching for information about coronavirus symptoms, raising fears of a second wave.

On Monday, U.S. searches for ‘coronavirus symptoms’ hit a three-week high on Google. Over the past week, Arizona, South Carolina and Texas were the top states for such searches.

Nationwide searches for ‘coronavirus testing’ hit their highest level since May 26 over the weekend, indicating a renewed interest in getting tested for COVID-19.

Washington DC, Maryland and New Mexico were the top locations searching for ‘coronavirus testing’ over the past 30 days.

Searches for both ‘coronavirus symptoms’ and ‘coronavirus testing’ remain far below their peaks in mid-March. 

On Monday, U.S. searches for 'coronavirus symptoms' hit a three-week high on Google

On Monday, U.S. searches for ‘coronavirus symptoms’ hit a three-week high on Google

Over the past week, Arizona, South Carolina and Texas were the top states for such searches

Over the past week, Arizona, South Carolina and Texas were the top states for such searches

While some fear the trend data indicates a ‘second wave’ of coronavirus cases is looming, Google Trends data is notoriously bad at predicting outbreaks.

From 2008 to 2015, Google tried to predict seasonal influenza trends using search data with its ‘Google Flu Trends’ tool, which measured searches for such terms as fever and cough.

The project was quietly killed off after scientists denounced it as an utter failure, noting that in 2013 Flu Trends was off by 140 percent at the peak. 

Nationally, deaths and new cases of coronavirus continue to decline steadily. On Monday there was an increase of 19,968 cases in the U.S. and 395 deaths.

As of Tuesday, a total of 2,114,180 positive cases have been recorded in the U.S. with at least 116,130 deaths. At the height of the pandemic in April there were around 36,000 cases and 2,500 deaths a day in the country.

However, as different states pursue different strategies for reopening their economies, many have been pouring through data seeking evidence that ending lockdowns causes a spike in cases.

The two most populous U.S. states took markedly different approaches to reopening on Monday, with New York scolding local governments for not enforcing social distancing and California encouraging counties to restart economies if they met criteria.

Nationwide searches for 'coronavirus testing' hit their highest level since May 26 over the weekend, indicating a renewed interest in getting tested for COVID-19

Nationwide searches for ‘coronavirus testing’ hit their highest level since May 26 over the weekend, indicating a renewed interest in getting tested for COVID-19

Searches for 'coronavirus testing' on Google are seen over the past seven days

Searches for ‘coronavirus testing’ on Google are seen over the past seven days

Scenes of merrymakers gathering outside bars prompted the governor of New York, the state hardest hit along with New Jersey by the coronavirus pandemic, to urge local officials and businesses on Monday to strictly enforce reopening guidelines.

‘To the local governments I say, ‘Do your job,” Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters. Over the weekend he criticized New York City street crowds outside bars and asked people to adhere to six feet of distance from others.

Both Cuomo and neighboring New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said they were keeping open the option of reimposing restrictions if officials fail to stop large public gatherings that risk leading to a second wave of infections.

In California, Governor Gavin Newsom has left it up to individual counties on when to reopen once they meet state guidelines. He reminded county officials of the risks of not restarting economies, as well as reopening them.

Scenes of merrymakers gathering outside bars prompted the governor of New York to urge local officials and businesses on Monday to strictly enforce reopening guidelines

Scenes of merrymakers gathering outside bars prompted the governor of New York to urge local officials and businesses on Monday to strictly enforce reopening guidelines

People drink outside a bar in the East Village neighborhood of New York City on Saturday

People drink outside a bar in the East Village neighborhood of New York City on Saturday

Newsom told a news briefing on Monday people could not be ‘locked away for months and months and months,’ especially those among the 5.5 million Americans in California who have lost their jobs since mid-March. He said some had also lost health coverage and were among the many people suffering severe mental and physical health problems during the pandemic.  

In enforcing coronavirus restrictions, he said the state and counties could not ‘see lives and livelihoods completely destroyed without considering the health impact of those decisions as well.’

‘As we mix, as we reopen, inevitably we’re going to see an increase in the total number of cases; it’s our capacity to address that that is so foundational,’ said Newsom.

California is one of four states that is projected to see the biggest spike in deaths in the months ahead, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.

Its new forecast on Monday forecast over 200,000 deaths due to COVID-19 in the United States through the beginning of October, mainly due to reopening measures under way.

The IHME, whose estimates are cited by many health experts, projected Florida will see its deaths nearly triple to 18,675 deaths from 6,559 on June 10, while California can expect to see deaths increase by 72 percent to 15,155 from 8,812, it said.

Georgia and Arizona also have sharp increases in deaths forecast by the institute.

New York and New Jersey between them account for more than a third of the more than 116,000 U.S. deaths, but deaths and hospitalizations have been on the decline of late. 

Both states have followed strict health guidelines for reopening businesses when all measures of infection drop – new cases, deaths, hospitalizations and positive rates among those getting tested.

Scott Gottlieb, the former Food and Drug Administration director who has advised the White House on the coronavirus, said on Monday that flare-ups needed to be addressed with aggressive contact tracing and targeted responses.

‘We´re not going to be able to shut down the country again this summer. We’re probably not going to be able to shut down the country again this fall,’ he said on CNBC. 

New projection puts U.S. COVID-19 deaths at over 200,000 by October 

A new forecast projects 201,129 deaths due to COVID-19 in the United States through the beginning of October mainly due to reopening measures under way, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington said on Monday.

The IHME raised its estimate by 18 percent from 169,890 and said Florida would be among the hardest hit states, with an estimated 18,675 deaths, up 186 percent from a previous estimate of 6,559 on June 10.

The institute raised its estimate for deaths in California by 72 percent to 15,155 from 8,812 and increased its outlook for Arizona by 56 percent to 7,415 fatalities from 4,762.

The University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation revised its death toll forecast upwards by 18 percent to more than 200,000 on Monday

The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation revised its death toll forecast upwards by 18 percent to more than 200,000 on Monday

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