Across the U.S. as a whole, deaths attributed to the coronavirus increase to 10,959, a jump of 1,304 or 14 percent. This is a significant number of dead with just under half from New York.
Cases of COVID-19 jumped 29,462 to 366,238, a rise of 9 percent in the past 24 hours. That’s two consecutive days of single-digit increases, which represents a flattening of the curve.
Globally, there are now 1.362 million reported cases with more than 76,000 deaths. These numbers represent an 24-hour increase of 6 percent and 9 percent, respectively, which could portray a flattening of the curve in Europe, as well as the U.S.
“Flattening the curve” is important because it represents a slowing in the rate of COVID-19 cases and the effectiveness of social distancing, lock downs and other mitigation efforts. Infection rates must slow before they can stop.
The slowing also relieves pressure on hospitals, intensive care units (ICUs) and ventilator demand. The problem is that such a slowing can be reversed if lockdown orders, social distancing and other virus-reduction actions are withdrawn prematurely.
Don’t Relax Too Soon
There’s a lot of positive talk in the media as numbers in Europe and parts of the U.S. seem to be reaching a point where they slow down or even hover, reaching the apex, that much-awaited, almost mythical peak where the number of new cases starts to drops and before too long, we actually see noticeably fewer reported COVID-19 infections.
Despite all the talk about reopening , we are not there yet. Cases and deaths are slowing, not stopping. Flattening the curve is important, but being on the downward slope would be even better.
Part of me thinks that this is the media and those that influence it are emphasizing the good news after weeks of bad because they want to give people hope and encourage them to hang on. It’s easier to tell someone to keep up social distancing for just a few more weeks when the end is in sight than it is to ask them to do so for an unknown period of months.
While it’s great to see the rate of infection increase, we can’t let our guard down. If we stop social distancing, we’re going to see cases start to creep back up in a week or so.
In other words, Dr. Fauci was correct when he said this won’t be over until we have no more cases. We need to continue social distancing.
A Chance to Catch our Breath, Not Celebrate
By all means, let’s reduce overcrowding in hospitals and let our doctors and nurses go home, see their families, and get a few nights of rest, knowing they won’t be faced with a flood of new cases on their next shift. Maybe we can start scheduling some of those more important elective surgeries, the ones that help people who are in pain or who will get worse if they delay.
Let’s allow our factories catch up on the production of PPE and ventilators so we can protect our essential workers and give those who are sick the best care possible. Maybe we’ll get to the point where masks will be available to all Americans.
Let’s let our meat packers, farmers and farm workers, truck drivers, factory workers, grocery clerks, and everyone else in the supply chain start to catch up and rebuild inventories of food and household goods in our stores, warehouses and distribution centers. Too many of these guys have gotten sick or lack proper protective equipment.
But let’s not forget that the virus is still out there, circling like a hawk, waiting to drop down on us again. We cannot give it an opening. That means:
That means we cannot allow church services, weddings, funerals, concerts, sporting events, conferences, meetings, or other group activities. The restaurants or bars have to stay shut. The evidence of clusters and viral spread from meetings, clubs, and sports is just too strong to ignore. We need to prohibit these activities until all attendees can be guaranteed safe or a cure or vaccine available.
If you think the curve is flattening, by all means, celebrate. Have a beer. Raise a toast, but do it at home, alone. We’ll save the really big, public party for when there are no more new cases.