The death toll continues to mount as coronavirus cases climb, but the rate of increase in New York City seems to be approaching its apex, with New York State around a week behind. Around 150,000 NYS residents have tested positive while 6,200 and counting have died. Dutchess County has 1,300 confirmed cases and ten have died.
As NYC reaches a plateau the midwest is beginning to experience a rapid increase in cases and deaths as the outbreak moves inland from the populated coasts. The White House lowered its estimated death toll from 100,000 to 60,000 but at this point it’s anyone’s guess, especially since there remain a few states who have not ordered their residents to shelter in place. Experts also warned the White House that warm weather was unlikely to slow the spread of the virus, a false notion Trump had been pushing from the beginning of the outbreak. Trump continues to suggest that the pandemic will be over with soon, but it’s hard to see how. In the meantime, food banks around the nation have been overwhelmed by demand. Some states report miles-long lines of cars waiting outside food banks. The weekly jobless claim data is due today and it’s likely to show another five million newly jobless, making the total somewhere around fifteen million. We better hope the supply chain holds up or our nation will be in big trouble.
It’s becoming clearer that we can only start to return to some semblance of normalcy under one of three conditions: 1) we have a vaccine, 2) we have an effective treatment, or 3) we can effectively quarantine the sick and stop the spread. 1) is probably a year away. 2) could come sooner but even if an effective treatment is found, it will take a while to prove it’s efficacy and safety. 3) can only happen if we have widespread regular testing and contact tracing available, which is probably at least a month away, if not more.
In order for option 3) to happen, we will have to test hundreds of millions of citizens on an ongoing basis, probably weekly. At first we need to use antibody tests to see who has already been infected and recovered–likely a very large number–so they can go back to normal and not worry about infection. At the same time we need to see who is actively infected so they can be quarantined and treated. And finally, we need an investigatory infrastructure in place to do contact-tracing for those newly infected, so the people they came into contact with can also be quarantined. Imagine how hard this will be in a large city. If an infected person takes a bus, a subway, or coughs in a store, how do you find the people who were nearby that might now also be infected? And how long will this effort take to organize under the most incompetent and third-rate administration in modern history? It’s hard to see our situation improving anytime soon, and it’s easy to see our economy doing a lot worse than the (ridiculous) stock market has been predicting in recent days.
The alternative scenario is that we risk life in a society that oscillates between periods of normalcy versus periods of outbreak and shelter in place. But that would be like playing Russian roulette with your life, especially if you are over fifty or have any sort of high-risk health condition. I’ll keep saying it–I sure as hell won’t go near a gathering of people until I’m confident that I can’t catch Covid-19, or that I stand a better chance of surviving than 1 out of 50 if I do catch it–not to mention the guilt of passing it on to my loved ones.
Every day we learn of another briefing or analysis that Trump was given warning him of the impeding crisis, and each new revelation deepens the horror that Trump utterly failed in his job to protect the American public. Trump’s latest excuse is that he didn’t want to make Americans panic because he is a “cheerleader” which is absurd. The president is a quarterback, not a cheerleader. As Senator Klobuchar noted recently, Trump went from “I alone can fix this” to “We’re a backup.” Disgraceful.
Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”
Never forget the seventy days.