The incidence of COVID-19 continues to climb to historic levels. Yesterday, Hancock County recorded 33 new cases, central Indiana experienced 750, the state experienced 3,000 new cases for the second day in a row, the U.S. reached a record 91,000 cases, and worldwide cases topped 500,000 for the first time. Clearly, this infectious disease is on the move.
Given this striking level of growth, it is important to understand our readiness to withstand the assault and I believe there are better measures to look at in this regard. While cases, in some regions, have grown five-fold since April, deaths have not yet returned to those levels and hospital admissions are just now reaching the heights we saw in the spring. Overall, the healthcare system is able to sustain the current levels of COVID-related work for some time and has the ability to absorb even higher numbers in much of the country if needed. But there are already regions (northern and southern Indiana, for example), where hospitals are already stretched to the breaking point and it is easy to see how this could happen to the rest of us very quickly.
The concern I think we all share is that winter, with its associated months of sustained presence indoors, has not yet started. We are also fast approaching the holiday season where many of us will be in close contact with friends and family who travel far and wide to celebrate together. The potential to see large increases in the already steep growth curve of the virus is very real and the impact it can have on our hospitals cannot be overstated.
While we wait for the silver bullet in treatments (a few months away) and the vaccine (several months away), our best weapons remain the simple preventive steps we have practiced all along. Wash your hands, wear your mask, and perhaps most importantly, minimize close contact, especially indoors, with large groups of people.
I believe we may be entering the most dangerous phase of the pandemic so far and the experience we have locally will be entirely related to the choices each of us makes individually.