With the recent protests that erupted after the death of George Floyd and the nation-wide movement surrounding Black Lives Matter, COVID-19 has taken a back burner in both the news and our thoughts. However, it is important to remember that we are still in the middle of a global pandemic. A pandemic that is, in fact, worsening in the United States.
Cases are going up—a lot.
The number of new cases in the U.S. in recent weeks has surged to record levels that are dangerously high. This has been happening especially in states that rushed to reopen their economies. Firstly, the White House didn’t have any well-defined recommendations to begin with. Then, many states that decided to being reopening didn’t even adhere to the little guidance that was available. Many states that decided to reopen even had rising positive test results. The criteria recommended by the Trump administration was to have a downward trajectory of cases before reopening.
According to the New York Times, it wasn’t until mid-March that officials started closing down the country. People were moving around as normal as late as March 10, and by March 17, most of the country was beginning to shut down. These closures were effective in stopping the exponential growth of the virus in many places across the country, but in New York City it was too late. Researchers from Columbia University estimate that 22,000 deaths in the area could have been prevented if precautions had been taken one week earlier. And 36,000 deaths nationwide could have been avoided by May, had the country’s shutdown began sooner.
This data shows us that precautions such as closing businesses, social distancing, and wearing masks do work.
In many parts of the country where the virus hadn’t already spread exponentially, these measures were effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and preventing deaths. Additionally, we could have prevented more deaths if we had done these things sooner. This goes to show that it is still important, now more than ever, to continue taking these precautions.
New outbreaks of the virus have flared up in the South and West in recent weeks. Cases have been on the rise in 29 states, and the United States has over 2.56 million confirmed cases and 127,000 deaths. We are the leading country for both cases and deaths. The U.S. is only one of two countries in the world to surpass 50,000 deaths from the virus, and the second is Brazil, which has 57,000. Italy, one of the first countries where the virus erupted in a deadly outbreak, comes in at 34,000 deaths.
As I am writing this (on June 27th), the United States has just set the single-day record for new coronavirus cases for the fifth day in a row.
Texas set a record for coronavirus-related hospitalizations for the 16th consecutive day. Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Nevada have all hit new highs in daily reported cases. And while Europe is considering reopening their borders to foreign travelers, they will certainly not be opening their borders to Americans.
We must continue to do everything possible to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Just because your state may be opening back up doesn’t mean it’s safe to hang out with friends, eat at restaurants, or go out without a mask. Continue to social distance. Only interact with people outside of your household while outside (being outside drastically reduces the chances of the virus spreading). And whatever you do, if you go into a public space, wear a mask. People are still spreading the virus. They are still being hospitalized. People are still dying. Do your part to protect your friends, family, neighbors, and fellow citizens.
The New York Times: After Asking Americans to Sacrifice in Shutdown, Leaders Failed to Control Virus
The New York Times: How the Virus Won
The Washington Post: U.S. Sets Single-Day Record for New Coronavirus Cases for Fifth Consecutive Day