America is reopening. But have we flattened the curve, asks a headline on the website of the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Data at their site and at the NPR.Org site say “no” quite loudly.
A dozen states recorded record highs in new daily cases between June 19 and June 22. New daily cases are rising in 26 states, with eight of these states increasing by 100 percent or more.
These eight states are Oklahoma, Florida, South Carolina, Arizona, Texas, Oregon, Idaho, and Nevada. Notably, six are headed by Republican governors. That is significant because Republican governors and other Republican elected figures tended to ignore the virus and were more eager to reopen their states after a period of sheltering in place.
Also, Oklahoma leads the pack with an over 200 percent increase in new cases. Nevertheless, this was Trump’s first campaign rally site with little attention to the pandemic.
Federal guidelines say states should see a 14-day decrease in new cases before reopening. Ignoring the directions, the eight states listed above tended to lift any stay at home orders and started opening on average around April 28. None of these states had met the recommended threshold. And the predictable result was substantial increases in new cases in these states.
The following states had record surges: Arizona, Florida, California, Nevada, and South Carolina. States with record spikes include two states with Democratic governors– Oregon and California.
Meanwhile, the states that had the most significant decreases in new cases seemed to have benefitted by more reasonable reopening schedules. They tended to open almost a month after the states with the highest increases in Covid-19 cases. These seven states were Virginia, Maryland, Mississippi, Rhode Island, Vermont, Illinois, and Connecticut, along with the District of Columbia.
As I reflect on these sad facts, two thoughts come to mind. One is the absolute necessity for Americans to stop thinking the United States is exceptional in that it always has better policies and practices than any other country, which causes the U.S. not to deign to do anything another country does.
For example, if we had followed the coronavirus approach of South Korea, tens of thousands of dead Americans would still be alive. South Korea had its first Covid-19 case about the same time as the United States. However, By the time South Korea reported 204 confirmed cases on February 21, the country had conducted a total of 16,400 tests. By the time the U.S. had 207 confirmed cases on March 4, it had performed 1,597 tests.
An ABC News article describes South Korea’s approach:
“Imagine that you’re in a midsize city, the lock-down has been lifted, and you finally go back to the office and see your colleagues for the first time in months.
“The next morning, you wake up with a tickle in your throat. You also notice a bit of a headache, and more alarmingly, a mild fever. No need to panic.
“You call the COVID-19 hotline to get information on local testing sites, walk to the nearest one, have a brief one-on-one visit with a doctor, and have your nasal or oral sample collected. The whole process takes less than 30 minutes. Later that evening, you get a text message letting you know whether you are COVID positive. All this for free or just under $20.
“You are not extremely worried because the country is taking prompt action for each confirmed COVID-19 case to find and alert anyone who might’ve been exposed and isolating them immediately. The daily new case count in the entire country has mostly stayed in the single digits for a few days straight.“
Yes, South Korea is much smaller than the United States; however, using their approach with just a portion of our population would have us better off than we are.
The other thought that comes to mind is just how deadly voting against one’s best interests can be. Voting for Trump and many other Republicans can be dangerous to one’s health—the ultimate interest. Covid-19 has undoubtedly affected many of Trump’s supporters in a way that would not have happened with a more competent administration.