The second wave of the coronavirus hasn’t even started yet, and governors are already talking about implementing a second lockdown.
Understand: this is not over and it will not be over until it is no longer useful to the government.
Sharp increases in the number of coronavirus cases diagnosed in states across the nation have some local elected officials considering pauses in reopening their economies.
The rising number of cases are hitting hardest in Sun Belt states like Arizona, California, Florida and Texas. All four of those states reported their highest single-day increase in the number of confirmed cases over the weekend.
Officials have also pointed to a troubling trend in the number of people who must be hospitalized for treatment, raising anew the frightening prospect of an overwhelmed health system. Arizona’s chief public health officer last week called for the state’s hospital systems to initiate their emergency plans.
“If the trends we’re seeing right now get worse or continue to rise we are at a very high risk of getting to the point where the threat to our hospital system is severe and we have to backtrack,” Lina Hidalgo, the county judge in Harris County, Texas, told reporters on Thursday.
Texas has reported more than 2,000 new cases a day on four of the last five days. The state reported 13,000 new cases last week. More than 89,000 Texans have been diagnosed with the virus, and nearly 2,000 have died.
Florida had its two worst days yet on Saturday and Sunday, reporting more than 2,000 cases on both days. The number of cases Florida reported in the last week has doubled from two weeks prior. More than 2,900 Floridians have lost their lives.
In all, 20 states confirmed more coronavirus cases in the last week than in the week prior. Ten states have recorded their highest-ever single-day counts in just the last week, according to an analysis by The Hill.
In Oregon, where early lockdowns prevented a widespread coronavirus outbreak in April and May, Gov. Kate Brown (D) said last week she would put a one-week pause on reopening segments of the economy after a spike in cases. Oregon had reported more than 100 cases on a single day only once before this month. The state has topped triple digits seven times in the last ten days.
“The noticeable increase in COVID-19 infections in Oregon over the past week is cause for concern,” Brown said in a statement. “This is essentially a statewide ‘yellow light.’ It is time to press pause for one week before any further reopening.”
Nashville Mayor John Cooper said last week he would pause the city’s reopening efforts after case counts ticked up after Memorial Day weekend.
“The level of cases in Southeast Nashville warrants further attention, and I have instructed the Metro Public Health Department to concentrate its efforts there,” Cooper said.
Other officials have been less enthusiastic about hitting the pause button just as businesses reopen. In Arizona, where the state reported its worst two days yet on Friday and Saturday, Gov. Doug Ducey (R) said he would consider pausing elective surgeries if the number of hospitalizations continued to grow.
The number of confirmed cases in California is continuing to mount even as Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) allows most businesses to reopen, albeit in a limited capacity. Newsom was the first governor in the country to announce he would lock down the state to try to prevent the spread of the virus in mid-March. But in the last week, 20,940 new people tested positive for the virus, bringing the state’s total up to 152,937 cases.
Some epidemiologists worry that the early lockdowns and the angst and economic hardship they caused have both eroded the willingness of average Americans to comply and sapped political will of elected officials to reimpose restrictions.
“I don’t think there will be new shutdowns. There isn’t the political will to do it any longer it seems,” said Christine Petersen, an epidemiologist at the University of Iowa. “Now we are in the pandemic wild west.”
Petersen said as Americans have come to grips with the threat of the coronavirus, different populations are processing risk in different ways. Older Americans, those most likely to suffer the worst of the virus, are staying home at greater rates. Younger Americans, who are less likely to show severe symptoms, are more likely to return to work.
“We have both opening and staying at home happening across the country, at differing rates,” Petersen said. “Which may be why deaths so far remain low.”
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) said over the weekend the alarming new figures underscore the need for continued vigilance.
“This is not the time to give up on efforts to protect ourselves, our families and our communities. We are still in the middle of a pandemic that is continuing to infect and kill Washingtonians,” Inslee said.
I still believe that the most probable course here is going to be allowing all of this black insanity over the summer before flipping a switch and shutting everything down again in the fall.
Rate of infection will increase when it gets cold, because the coronavirus is a seasonal flu. So they will have theoretical grounds to shut down. If we don’t shut down, we’re basically admitting that the first shutdown was pointless, and thus we destroyed our economy for no reason.
It’s sunk costs. People will go along with it, especially given that it is so political. They want that kind of chaos to be the backdrop of the election.