Sunday, July 5, 2020

Two Month Check In

                                                                                                    written 28 June 2020
                                                                                                   published 5 July 2020

            When the economy began reopening on 1 May, US Covid-19 case count stood at 1,091,038, with 57,266 dead (source: worldometer).   One month later, the case count had risen to 1,828,784, with 105,926 dead.  As I write this on 28 June, the case count is 2,5615,703, with 128,237 dead.  We are still number one in the world.
            The 7-day running average of daily cases dropped from 29,459 on 1 May to 20,903 on 27 May, mostly because of a steep drop in cases in the New York metro area.  But daily case count average began increasing again as the virus spread into other areas of the country, today hitting an all-time record of 38,811.  The running average of deaths per day, which tends to lag new cases by several weeks, trended down from 1800 the beginning of May to a low of 578 on 25 June, but today has risen to 873.
            Since economic reopening began, US deaths per capita have increased 95%, with only 15 states (2/3 Democratically controlled) posting a lower rate of increase.  Seventeen states (2/3 Republican controlled) have a per capita death rate increase twice the national average, and five have increased more than 3 times as fast: Arizona, Iowa, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and South Dakota.
            California's primary hot spot is Los Angeles county, with 46% of the state's cases, and the 10 southern counties together account for 78%.  In Mendocino county, cases have risen from 12 on 1 May, to 30 on 1 June, and today reached 76, a 250% increase each month.  This rate of increase is expected to grow as the tourist economy opens further.  No one has died to date, but community transmission is already in the Ukiah valley.  
            As much as Republicans would like to believe that the virus is diminishing, or that testing creates more cases, the reality is growing worse in a majority of states.  In hot spots around the nation, out of control infection growth is causing hospitals to sound the alarm as they hit capacity and staff fatigue, just like we saw in New York and Italy months ago.  Republican governors in Arizona, Florida, and Texas are beginning to admit they have a problem.  Some states are partially reclosing, or pausing plans for further opening of their economy.  
            Having reduced infection in their area, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut announced a 14-day quarantine on people traveling from states with out of control infection, defined as greater than 10% positive test rates: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North and South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Washington.  The European Union is considering a quarantine on anyone traveling from the US, Brazil, or Russia, where infections rage unabated, due to failed leadership.
           Because Trump did not create the virus crisis, he can't spin it to his advantage, therefore, he pretends it doesn't exist.  Control of Covid briefings was taken away from the CDC, and then canceled for weeks.  His recent pep rallies, hosted in the middle of Covid hot spots, packed people inside with no social distancing or masks.  At his Tulsa rally, he declared testing created too many cases, and directed his staff to slow down testing, despite all medical advice to the contrary.  Over $14B of Congressionally approved funds for testing has yet to be distributed.  Trump planned to cut testing in Colorado, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Texas, but political backlash from the recent spikes forced a change. 
            If a person's actions cause the death of another, it is involuntary manslaughter: a felony.  Anyone enabling such actions is also guilty.  For intentional actions, the penalties increase.  Trump is probably not intentionally trying to kill people: his personality disorder seems to preclude him from believing anyone other than himself is actually real.  However, the Republican "leaders" keeping him in place are not so stunted, and must accept responsibility for continuing to allow his destruction of our country.  At the very least, they should all be voted out of office.
            In 2016, Trump proved he can con all Republicans some of the time.  His dedicated core shows he can con some Republicans all of the time.  As the virus eats into the heartland, we will see if he can continue to con all Republicans all of the time.