COVID-19 has been winning big in famous states like Arizona, Texas, and California, but has also been increasing in most other states of the USA. We have been forced to realize just how powerful a virus it really is.
By now we know the reasons: governors opening up restaurants and bars too early. Mixed messages about masks from the Federal government. Open celebrations and parties on Memorial day and July Fourth holidays. Plus the old attitude of “I don’t want the government telling me what to do.” Plus “I’ve got a bad case of cabin fever, and I have to get out of the house and visit with my friends.”
Visitors onboard the Boardwalk Beast arrive back from their trip around Galveston Bay on the evening of Saturday, July 18, 2020. Photo: Hadley Chittum, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer.
The following is adapted from an article by Todd Ackerman dated July 21 in the Houston Chronicle.
On June 19, Judge Hidalgo issued her mask requirement for Harris county (most of Houston) and two weeks later Governor Abbott ordered a similar one for most other counties.
Encouraging signs appear in a number of recent trends:
(1) A decline in Texas Medical Center hospitalizations (see figure).
(2) A drop in the positive diagnostic test rate in the metro area.
The positive COVID-19 test rate in the medical center is on a downward slope. The percent of people testing positive rose from 5% in mid-May to 23% on July 9. Since then, it has dropped to 19%.
This number tracks the spread of the virus. If the number is 1, each person with the virus spreads the virus to one other person, and the total number of virus cases stays the same. If the number is greater than 1, each person with the virus infects more than one person and it spreads rapidly. Less than 1 and the spread declines.
In the Houston area, new estimates produced at Baylor indicate the number rose for seven straight days — from .94 on July 6 to 1.47 on July 13 (that’s very bad). Since then, it has decreased for seven days straight — to .81 Monday (that’s good).
If Houston is able to maintain this rate (0.81) for three months, there would be just 7 percent as many cases in the area as there are now.
Can Texans commit? Can they follow the CDC recommendations of (1) masking, (2) distancing, (3) washing hands, and (4) avoid close-spaced areas indoors (unless it’s your home).
The thing is, if a high percentage of people commit to these guidelines the magic number will come down and stay down, and the virus will lose steam.
The X-factor is if the virus is airborne – meaning not only droplets that fall to the ground quickly but also aerosols that are carried with the air like cigarette smoke. More evidence is coming out that it is airborne. Much harder to avoid the virus.
In a close-spaced room with poor, recycled ventilation (like some restaurants and movie theaters), the virus can be transferred by breathing out and breathing in. If you go to a restaurant eat outside, even if it’s a warm day. If you venture into a small store, buy in a hurry and get out quick.
We will be living with COVID for many months, even years, but if we commit to the new behavior we will once again control the virus spread, like many other countries have done.
And already there is good news in the pipeline: vaccines that can not only kill COVID cells, but also reinforce T-cells in our bodies which boosts our immune system.
What is the magic number for New Mexico, to compare with Texas?
This figure was published one day after the blog was posted. After the week of May 19, the magic number was greater than 1 (not good) but was dropping which was a good sign. The North-west of the state was struggling back then. The week of June 16 was the best week with the magic number less than one.
Then the reopening effect clicked in and the number rose to 1.21 — the state was going south. Since then the number has headed down to 1.0 in the week of July 20. Hopefully it will continue to fall, and stay below 1 which means we would be slowly getting on top of the virus.
BLOG TOPICS: I write content (in-depth) blogs about a mix of topics: Inspiration and Hope, and Science and Energy, and Health and Hiking.
The Gray Nomad ….. Hope is returning to Texas and the USA.
Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come to me, and drink.
[Book of John, chapter 7.]