Last Friday, I reported that the U.S. had been experiencing 60,000 new cases of COVID-19 per day, a huge jump from the record 50,000 daily cases recorded one week before. Just one week later, we have had several days in excess of 70,000 cases per day, nearly double the number of daily new cases our country experienced in April and May, at what we thought was the height of the pandemic. Hospitalizations and deaths have begun increasing nationally as well, though fortunately at much lower rates.
The U.S. continues to account for about 30% of all new cases worldwide, and 20% of the deaths, with 3.5 million cases (14 million worldwide) since the beginning of the pandemic and nearly 140,000 deaths (600,000 worldwide). To put this in perspective, my home state of Iowa has only 3.1 million residents and the city I was born in (Cedar Rapids) has a population of 133,000. If you can imagine every resident of Iowa being infected with the disease, then every person in my hometown dying of it, you can get a better picture of what has happened in America.
In our home state of Indiana, since the pandemic began, we experienced only seven days where daily counts of new infections have exceeded 700…four of those days have been in the last week. While hospitalizations are increasing slightly, deaths have again plateaued, at about 10 per day.
Given the hot spots that have developed in Florida, California, Texas, and Arizona, coupled with the recent rise in our own case numbers in Indiana, our Governor has wisely extended the time we will remain at “Stage 4.5” by an additional two weeks. This will give another opportunity to re-evaluate the situation at the end of the month.
Common sense remains the best approach to slowing the spread of the disease, with physical distancing, washing hands, and mask-wearing remaining the key components. On this last subject, while many retailers have required employees (and encouraged customers) to wear masks for quite some time now, this coming Monday, Wal-Mart, Kroger, CVS, Walgreens, and Kohl’s stores nationally will begin to require masks for all who enter their stores. Home Depot announced today that their own mask requirement for customers will begin on Wednesday.
It is important to understand the situation we are in and keep track of the trends, but it is equally important to make the most of life. Please take advantage of the beautiful summer weather to get outside, take in the fresh air, and spend time with your family. Examine your own situation, weigh the risks and the benefits, use common-sense measures to protect you and those you love, and then engage with the world as fully as you can.
All the Best