Sunday, October 11, 2020

Five Month Covid-19 Check In

                                                                                                 written 4 October 2020

                                                                                                     for 11 October 2020



            On October 4th, reported US cases at 7,621,921 with 214,471 deaths, still the worst in the world, but India is coming on fast and may lead in cases within another month.  The US 7-day running average of daily cases hit 32,611 on April 9th, but the economic shut-down flattened the curve, and daily case count drifted down to 20,903 on May 27th.  Republicans, expounding the false dichotomy between the economy and public health, pushed to reopen businesses beginning in May.  Crowds on the 4th of July weekend produced a second peak of 69,207 daily cases on July 25th.  Daily case load drifted down to 35,182 on September 12th, but Labor Day crowds have created the beginning of a third wave, with today's case count hitting 51,179.  We are now in school season and cooler weather is coming, which will create more cases.

            In September, Covid-19 deaths increased 15 percent nationwide, and seventeen states had death rates increase more than 30 percent, 2/3 Republican controlled.  Since May, ten states have seen deaths increase more than 4 times the national rate: Florida (4.2), Mississippi (4.3), North Dakota (4.5), South Dakota (4.5), Montana (4.7), Tennessee (4.8), South Carolina (5.1), Arizona (6.7), Texas (8.1), and Arkansas (9.2).

            On October 4th, California had 829,744 cases, the most in the US, followed closely by Texas with 802,180.  The 7-day running average of California daily cases peaked at 10,022 on July 26th, declined and peaking again at 9,965 on August 17th, before drifting down to our current rate of 3,167.  Deaths in California since May have increased from 2,052 to 16,119 (786 percent), 3 times faster than the national average, but monthly increases declined from 96 percent in May to 26 percent in September.  The five southern counties of Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange, and San Diego have 60 percent of California case load.  Mendocino county case load increased 36 percent in September, down from the August increase of 235 percent, with only 1 new death.

            Recent reports have determined that the primary source of misinformation about Covid-19 is President Trump, who described the virus as "deadly and highly contagious" in taped private conversations with Bob Woodward, at the same time he called it a "Democratic hoax" in public.  GOP leaders have made denial of the virus a litmus test for party purity, and GOP political events defy even the politically diminished recommendations from the CDC, with no social distancing and public shaming for mask wearing.  The massive Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota, with few masks and no social distancing, was championed by the Republican governor as good for the economy.  

            Early Covid-19 infections happened mostly in "blue" states, which Trump claimed was the fault of the Democratic governors.  But those initial infections have been radically curtailed as a result of good public health policies, and the virus is now expanding fastest in "red" states, where the same policies are ignored.  Rank and file Republicans, believing the President is telling them the truth, doubt the reality of the virus, until they, or someone they know, gets it.  This is "head through the windshield" style of learning.  

            Late on October 1st, after reports Trump advisor Hope Hicks had tested positive for Covid-19, it was announced the President and First Lady also tested positive.  The next day, after the stock market closed, Trump went to Walter Reed, and received treatments reserved for very sick people.  

            It appears Trump was showing symptoms as early as Wednesday morning, the day after the debate, but kept it secret and continued with rallies and intimate fundraising events with top GOP donors.  Suspicion of the infection source focuses on the September 26th Rose Garden event announcing Amy Barrett's Supreme Court appointment, attended by the leadership of the Republican party, with no social distancing and few masks.  Fifteen people at that event have tested positive so far.  

            It is clear the virus has not gone away.  As Republicans scurry to isolate and get tested, the campaign and the rush to pack the Supreme Court might be derailed.  Trump's public dismissal of Covid-19, with Republican sycophantic support, may have determined the outcome of this election more than Russian interference and overt GOP voter suppression.  Denial of reality is inevitably doomed to fail.  

            Stay centered, stay tuned, and please vote.