Commentary, COVID-19

How’s that rapid reopening plan working out?

The latest pandemic numbers — especially from the states whose leaders have championed rapid reopening — are coming in and they ain’t good.

This is from this morning’s New York Times:

“Case numbers are surging throughout most of the United States, including in many states that were among the first to reopen. Because the number of people hospitalized and the percentage of people testing positive is also rising in many of those places, the case spike cannot be solely explained by increased testing.”

And this is from the Washington Post:

“The overall daily death toll declined from May to late June, largely because of a sharp decrease in deaths and reported infections in New York and New Jersey.

But the virus is now accelerating through other states, notably Texas, Florida, California and Arizona, and public health officials report not only a surge in new cases but also increases in hospitalizations and in the percentage of tests that are coming up positive.”

Indeed, Newsweek reports that, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci “the COVID-19 pandemic could reach the level of the Spanish flu, which killed millions of people around the globe between 1918 and 1920.”

As the Times also reports, this isn’t good news for the economy:

“The United States economy is headed for a tumultuous autumn, with the threat of closed schools, renewed government lockdowns, empty stadiums and an uncertain amount of federal support for businesses and unemployed workers all clouding hopes for a rapid rebound from recession.

For months, the prevailing wisdom among investors, Trump administration officials and many economic forecasters was that, after plunging into recession this spring, the country’s economy would accelerate in late summer and take off in the fall as the virus receded.

But failure to suppress a resurgence of confirmed infections is threatening to choke the recovery and push the country back into a recessionary spiral — one that could inflict long-term damage on workers and businesses, unless Congress reconsiders the scale of federal aid that may be required in the months to come.”

We are not without some small shreds of hopeful news. Deaths remain below their peak levels and there is a new report of progress in the vaccine search.

But at this point, it’s hard to draw any other overarching conclusion than that the U.S. reopened too quickly and that we continue to face a crisis of enormous proportions that will be with us for a long time to come.

Hang in there, people.

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