The coronavirus case curve that had leveled out has once again veered skyward. Thankfully, the death rate has not. While political figures buffet them with recriminations over racial discord, Americans are figuring out ways of coping with the pandemic.
The Trump administration’s 15-day period of nationwide self-quarantine in March to “flatten the curve” was only the beginning of an extended state-by-state strategy that worked tolerably well in limiting the spread of disease. A mixture of business and school closures, medical personnel mobilizations and personal germ-fighting measures wrestled COVID-19 cases into decline. From an April 6 peak of 43,438 new daily cases, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) figures, the slope trended downward to around 20,000 per day toward the end of May. Safety was the watchword posted on every door, floor and website.
Aside from the glaring failure to protect nursing home patients in certain Democrat-controlled states — New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts among them — Americans were sensing a light at the end of the virus tunnel. Growing numbers of bar and restaurant patrons sparked warnings of new spikes to come, even while business owners on the brink after shuttering for months complained that officialdom wasn’t allowing them to open quickly enough.
Through it all, a feared nationwide surge in virus cases did not materialize — until the outbreak of racial turmoil. The Memorial Day death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers soon triggered an explosion of anger up and down the thoroughfares of major and minor U.S. cities. Social distancing was observed in the breach, and face masks became less a health measure than a means of unleashing mayhem without fear of identification. Wellness was chased from the public square by wokeness.
The head of the New York City Council’s health committee, for one, provided a moral trump card for political figures to wave when called out for kicking public health to the curb and egging on the germ-spreading racial injustice crowds: “Let’s be clear about something,” tweeted Mark Levine. “If there is a spike in coronavirus cases in the next two weeks, don’t blame the protesters. Blame racism.” See how well that excuse goes over in the emergency room.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rallied her Democratic colleagues to kneel in surrender to the race hustlers and their confused comrades, further invigorating them with her submission. The move prompted the throngs to exhort and jostle each other with abandon, heightening the dangers of infection, though lawmakers limited their own exposure by keeping a healthy distance inside the U.S. Capitol.
A Democrats-only police reform bill passed the House of Representatives last week, but their Senate counterparts filibustered a Republican version. Like an itch that can’t be scratched, law enforcement upgrades, which a super-majority of Americans told USA Today pollsters Tuesday they crave, remain out of reach.
Nationwide, CDC records show that following the statistically derived 14-day COVID-19 incubation period, the number of cases curved upward around June 10. Since then, the trend line has climbed as steeply as its initial ascent in March, and reached 50,000 on July 1. That figure could soon rise to 100,000, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading member of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force, told a Senate committee Tuesday.
States such as Florida, Texas and Arizona, where economic activity kicked back into gear with gusto, are the virus hot spots now. Unsurprisingly, unfriendly media have tagged their Republican leaders for scorn that Democrats largely dodged when their states were death zones. The takeaway: COVID-19 spikes caused by protesters in the streets: good; virus upticks caused by citizens in the workplace: bad.
There is a silver lining, though, to the finger-pointing fandango. Unlike the spring spike, the current outbreak is not producing an accompanying upturn in deaths. The national daily death count derived from a seven-day average stands at about 640 — one-quarter of the April 15 peak, according to data gathered by The New York Times.
Coping with coronavirus is an acquired skill. The young and robust who are refusing to sit idle are learning to work and fight off the disease while their vulnerable parents and grandparents are staying safe at home. With reflections on race all around, the task ahead is to defeat death and revive the American way of life.