The U.S. reached an average of 28.5 new COVID-19 cases / 100K / day yesterday. The good news is that the growth rate fell below 50% per week. That continues what appeared yesterday to be a slight trend toward slower growth.
Data source for this and other graphs of new case counts: Calculated from The New York Times. (2021). Coronavirus (Covid-19) Data in the United States. Retrieved 8/4/2021, from https://github.com/nytimes/covid-19-data.” The NY Times U.S. tracking page may be found at https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html.
That said, since fear-based journalism seems to be the order of the day, per Newsweek –
A Doomsday COVID Variant Worse Than Delta and Lambda May Be Coming, Scientists Say
– let me show the same information in natural units (versus the log scale above), just because it looks all that much scarier.
I actually have a point, which is that both the South Atlantic and South Central regions of the country are now above 45 new cases / 100K /day on average. There is still very much a North/South divide in the level of daily new COVID-19 cases, as I illustrated a week or so ago.
As of today, just three states are at or above their previous peak of new cases per day.
No other state is above is above 75% of its prior peak. Five states (Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, Arkansas, and Oregon) currently stand between 50% and 75% of their prior peak.
Of those three states that are setting new state records for daily COVID-19 cases:
- Hawaii re-instituted mask mandates, mandatory social distancing, and limits on large indoor gatherings. Further, the government requests that high-risk individuals shelter at home, and requires that restaurants/bars collect sign-in data from all patrons to provide contact tracing information in the event of an outbreak (reference, reference).
- Louisiana re-instituted a statewide mask mandate, including mandatory mask use in schools and colleges, along with mandatory social distancing and a request that high-risk individuals isolate themselves at home (reference, reference).
- Florida has promised to be in its bedroom, making no noise and pretending that COVID-19 doesn’t exist (reference, reference, reference).
(I would like to say that the governor of Florida had the good taste to remove this merchandise from his website, given the current state of the COVID-19 outbreak there. But I can’t. I’m not even sure I’m allowed to use the phrase “good taste” and governor of Florida in the same sentence.)
On the plus side, at least the governor of Florida isn’t claiming that the only reason case counts are up is that more testing is occurring. (As he did before, see Post #864.) But that’s no longer a standard Republican governor talking point.
This time, the governor’s claim is that this is just normal seasonal variation in COVID-19. Which is why Florida is setting its all-time record? Which is why cases are rising at about the same rate in all states?
What I’m highlighting here is that, as was the case last time, the governor is using a rationale that is transparently false. This is absolutely parallel to his actions in the last big wave. Last time, even as the governor blamed the high new-case rates on more testing, hospitals were filling up and death counts were rising — clearly not byproducts of testing. This time, the governor is blaming “seasonality” of Florida cases, even though cases are rising right across the country, and are now setting records in Florida.
And, assuming this really runs on about the same schedule as the last big wave where Florida took the lead, we’ll see an abrupt about-face by the Governor of Florida soon. Last time it took exactly nine days, as documented in Post #864.
You’d think that the people of Florida would have learned something from the Governor’s last flip-flop, but clearly not. And so, you’d think that this strategy would no longer work. But that’s not so.
In fact, the governor’s actions in this wave are a near-exact repeat of the strategy he used during last summer’s wave, when Florida led the nation in new COVID-19 cases. The game plan is to use any even-remotely-plausible excuse for ignoring a surge in cases, for as long as possible. This allows the ICUs to fill and the refrigerated trailers to be brought in for corpse storage. At which point — and only at that point — the governor finally has political cover, and he will pivot abruptly, without apology, to something resembling normal reality-based public health policy.
Last time it was “it’s all due to more testing”. This time the line is “it’s all due to seasonality”. Otherwise, it’s a re-run. And nobody in Florida appears to remember, or to care.