Thanks to the social distancing that people here in the US had been doing (in spite of the lack of effort from the federal government), the cases in the US had hit a peak in May, but then started going down. It looked like we were headed in the right direction, but doctors and scientists were advising that we weren’t ready to start re-opening quite yet.
Trump and the GOP didn’t agree. They saw economic disaster. The virus was affecting people in other ways as they were laid off from work and having to live off a much smaller unemployment wage. There was some talk about how the older generations would likely go (some called it sacrificing for the common good) and it was more important to save the economy than protect these older folks.
So communities around the country started opening up. They started slow, limiting it to essential services and enforcing limits on how many people could be in rooms together. The problem is that a large portion of the population still didn’t really see the danger that they were in. They ignored calls to wear masks and keep apart. Some even had parties in defiance, and a lot of people ended up getting sick.
The number of cases in the US started going up again in late June. A lot. The US had been trending slowly downwards, the same way a lot of other countries had, but now the US began to emerge from the pack as an outlier. This wasn’t just how the virus worked — this was a disease spreading due to the blatant disregard for safety. The debate over masks became so tense that some politicians created laws forbidding cities and counties from requiring people to wear them. The number of cases began to skyrocket.
The President eventually conceded that wearing a mask was the right thing to do, but he spun it as the “patriotic” thing to do, rather than the healthy thing to do. Most people who weren’t wearing masks just continued to not wear them, and the increase continued. Trump gave up and went back to campaigning. He changed his focus to fighting the protests that had begun around the country, claiming that he was bringing the country under law and order.
Here we are at the end of July. Almost 1500 people died yesterday. The highest the US ever had was 2700, and we are only about 1000 people short of it. School season is about to begin, and they are debating again about opening schools. Trump and the GOP of course want schools open. They want people to believe that we can just return to normal and this will eventually work itself out.
The curve is trending up in deaths. If we open schools again, we will likely pass above where we were back in April and see a lot more people dead. We have already crossed 150,000, and now 1 in 100 Americans have been infected. The death rate is currently 3.3% (roughly 4.5 million infected versus 154,000 dead), so if things continue and everyone in the US gets infected, about 11 million people will die. That’s about the population of New York City and Los Angeles combined.
We also don’t know that the survivors won’t have long-term health effects. Some could have heart or lung damage that is going to shorten their lifespans significantly. Some viral diseases stay with us forever and continue to cause symptoms. Scientists are studying the disease and creating medications and vaccines, but it will take months if not years to see these to reach everyone.
I beg you all to stay safe, wear a mask when you go out, wash your hands every time you come home. Take this disease seriously and we can make it through and return to normal lives. Listen to Trump, and 3% of us won’t be here by 2022.