In some ways, the 14-day orientation is “very weak” in 24 states, “making progress” in 21 states and the district, and “moving better” in only five states. Some communities are particularly affected a month after the reopening around Memorial Day, including Arizona, which on May 15 lifted its home order. People flooded bar districts in the Phoenix area, ignoring social distancing guidelines, the Associated Press reported, noting that there were no requirements to wear masks, no significant increase in contact tracking and no scaling up infection control in nursing homes. Today, the state has seen a 198 per cent increase in cases in the past two weeks and 14.2 per cent of test results are positive.
Texas also opted for a rapid reopening – and its hospitalizations exceeded 2,100 Wednesday for the first time during the pandemic. That’s a 42 percent increase in the number of patients since Memorial Day weekend, when beachgoers invaded the coast and a water park near Houston opened to large crowds. Texas saw a 54 percent increase in cases in 14 days. Other states of concern are North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Georgia.
There is no absolute correlation between these outbreaks and re-openings. Some spikes may reflect better tests. But hospitalizations are an unambiguous sign of problems. It will be worse if the latest outbreaks are not contained, as states continue to open and relax restrictions. If there is another wave of explosives, as happened in New York in March, whole sections of the United States could face the atrocious and extremely difficult question of whether to reimpose the lockdown orders.
To achieve containment, states must implement an aggressive strategy for screening, tracing contacts and isolating patients. Unfortunately, many states are struggling to launch these efforts, with uneven results. No one was helped by President Trump’s abdication of responsibility for a robust federal response.
Until an effective vaccine or drug treatment is ready, the goal is simply to prevent hospitals and health care systems from being overwhelmed and to protect as many people as possible. This requires common sense to break the transmission of the virus: physical distance, hand cleaning and masks. While much attention has been paid to the possible spread of the virus from recent protests and mr. Trump’s upcoming rallies, many more people are engaged in risky daily activities. We all need to work to slow the spread of the virus and steer this pandemic nation towards a relatively better outcome.