A SCARY COVID-19 REOPENING SPIKE
COVID-19 is winning once again in these states: Arizona (419), Texas (175), Arkansas (202), Mississippi (252), Florida (291), South Carolina (240).
In contrast, New Mexico (75), Oklahoma (75) and Kansas (75) are doing much better in controlling the virus.
These numbers are daily new cases of the virus, averaged over the past week (21-28 June), per million people in the state. See Figure 1.
The virus in Texas has flared up since restrictions were softened in early June: no mandate to wear masks, bars open to 50% and restaurants open to 75% capacity, allowing 100 people to meet together, and beaches open. See bar chart below.
The following quotes are taken from a BBC News article of June 29, 2020:
“Over just the past few weeks, the daily number of cases have gone from an average of about 2,000, to more than 5,000,” Mr Abbott, the governor of Texas, said on Sunday. [See bar chart.]
US Vice-President Mike Pence said that Texas would be issued additional Covid-19 testing kits for as long as was necessary. The vice-president also urged Texans to wear masks “wherever it’s indicated”, saying “we know from experience, it will slow the spread of the coronavirus”. [Directions from the heads of government are confusing.]
In the Texas state capital of Austin, a requirement to wear face coverings to help mitigate the spread of the virus led to demonstrations on the city’s streets by people objecting to the measure. [See photo below. I hope this hasn’t happened in New Mexico.]
Responding to the level of new cases, Mr Abbott last week told bars to close and limited restaurants’ indoor seating capacity to 50%. Restaurants had previously been allowed to operate at 75% capacity, and bars at 50%.
New coronavirus cases have been swiftly rising in more than half of US states and experts are worried. The number of daily cases had been declining in May and early June – but as many places continued to ease lockdown restrictions, cases began to rise again, hitting a record high of 47,341 a day in the US on 26 June.
On Sunday, Arizona also recorded a record daily increase of more than 3,800 cases. Hundreds of people reportedly travelled to rivers in the state to escape the hot weather.
The reported increases in infections in southern and western states of the USA came after moves in recent weeks to reopen businesses, resulting in people from other areas pouring in.
The surge in cases was being driven by young people – those aged between 18 and 34 – testing positive, especially in the south and west of the US, said the head of the CDC, Dr Robert Redfield.
There is a lag of a few weeks from infection to possible death, so it is not easy to draw an immediate correlation. And, additionally, much will depend on who the new cases are – if they are fit young people, then there will not be a similar rise in deaths.
TESTING AND TRACING.
The following paragraphs are taken from a Houston Chronicle article entitled Gov. Abbott gambled Texas’ reopening on contact tracing. Here’s how it went bust.
Texas is becoming a textbook example of the dangers of opening without time-tested public health measures fully in place. Key components of state and local tracing programs were not in place as governor Abbott expanded reopenings in May and June, even as cases began to rise and testing for the virus fell short of expectations.
The rushed debut, compounded by an outdated reporting system and delays in processing tests for the virus, made it difficult for tracers to head off the rise in cases.
• Texas went from about 1,000 new cases every day (in April and May) to about 5,500 cases every day in late June 2020. This coincides with Texas reopening: no mandate to wear masks, bars open to 50% and restaurants open to 75% capacity, allowing 100 people to meet together, and beaches open.
• The surge in virus cases in Texas appears to be mostly people younger than 35. The death rate is lower in this age group. So the increase in number of deaths may not match the sharp uptick in virus cases in Texas. I hope this is the case but it will take 2-3 weeks to find out.
• This tribulation is personal. If you take a risk and catch the virus, you may get very sick. But if you catch it you may spread it because you have no symptoms (yet) – and if you spread it to older folks or at-risk people, they may die. You don’t want to be in that space.
• Its best to be smart and diligent: wear a mask when you leave home, don’t mix with groups, sterilize your hands as soon as you get back in the car after shopping, wash your hands with soap as soon as you get home.
• Texas has managed the COVID virus poorly. Their testing and tracing system was overwhelmed by the new virus cases that emerged as business and social activities reopened. Look to and learn from other countries that have successfully controlled the virus: Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand (scroll down this website to see earlier blog reports).
• I just heard that Florida has been hit hard in a “reopening wave” of the virus. Same story as Texas, different state. The news stated that before a state reopens, you have to have falling infection rates, and enough testing and tracing to catch and quarantine new infections. The testing is critical because maybe an estimated 30% of people with the virus have no symptoms, and testing is the only way to identify them.
POSTSCRIPT: HOW USA HAS FALLEN BEHIND EUROPE
The graph plots new infections on a daily basis. South Korea (yellow line) is not a small country (52 million) but they responded quickly to the COVID-19 outbreak. Europe (pink curve) didn’t respond quickly, and their virus infections built slowly to a high peak. Same in the USA (green curve). It appears European countries used more coordinated government action to guide the recovery and reopen business and social activities. The USA were less coordinated and many states opened too quickly with insufficient testing and tracing. The green uptick in late June shows the US has now more daily virus cases than ever before. The data points to poor management at the federal level, and a very troubling time for the USA.
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 ….. Think about 5,000 new virus cases every day in Texas, and be extra careful.
So then, as occasion and opportunity open to us, let us do good to all people.
[Book of Galatians, chapter 6.]