Another record-breaking day in America
The coronavirus is reaching terrifying new levels in the United States. The country set another record for new coronavirus cases yesterday, with more than 59,400 infections — the fifth such record in nine days. As of Tuesday, the U.S. had recorded more than three million cases in total.
Today there are only two states — Vermont and New Hampshire — where cases are decreasing, while cases are more or less steady in 14 states and territories. In roughly half of the country, the spread has never been worse: 24 states reported more cases over the past week than in any other seven-day stretch of the pandemic. And as my colleague David Leonhardt pointed out, several states have more new cases per capita than even the hardest-hit countries.
For days now, political leaders looking for a silver lining have pointed to the death rate, which had been declining even as new infections skyrocketed. But that optimism may be coming to an end.
More than 948 new deaths were reported nationally on Wednesday, the second-largest total in nearly a month. That’s still a far cry from the national average of 2,200 daily deaths in mid-April, but the growing numbers may be a sign of what’s to come. Typically, there has been a lag of about a month between an infection and a reported death, and that suggests that the surge that began in mid-June, particularly in the Sun Belt, could produce a spike in deaths in the coming weeks.
Just as concerning is the situation in America’s hospitals. Across the South and West, a deluge of patients is forcing hospitals to convert beds into intensive care units. Doctors and health officials have said they were able to moderately control the virus because hospitals had enough personal protective equipment and the antiviral drug remdesivir. But now, many hospitals are reporting that they are running low on the drug, and the country as a whole is facing a dire shortage of protective gear and testing supplies.
Deborah Burger, co-president of National Nurses United, the country’s largest organization of registered nurses, said nurses were being forced to reuse protective gear in a way that has not been tested for safety.
“It’s almost five months into a pandemic in the richest country in the world and we’re putting people’s lives at risk because we don’t have enough P.P.E.,” she said.
What’s behind the surge: The current spike in cases is being driven by states that were among the first to reopen their economies, a Times analysis found, decisions that epidemiologists warned could lead to a wave of infections.
Planning for the early days of a vaccine
When a vaccine for the coronavirus finally arrives on the market, who will get it first?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and outside health experts have been working on a ranking system. In their preliminary plan, the earliest available vaccines would be offered to vital medical and national security officials, then to other essential workers and those considered at high risk.
As they come up with the schedule, they have focused on a number of questions, including: What should be done about pregnant women? Should teachers go toward the front of the line?
But the most contentious debate has been over whether to put Black and Latino people — who have disproportionately fallen victim to Covid-19 — ahead of others in the population.
The idea was supported by many of the health experts, who viewed it as medically sound and an act of racial justice. But others worried it could create a negative impression of the vaccine for some Americans.
“Giving it to one race initially and not another race, I’m not sure how that would be perceived by the public, how that would affect how vaccines are viewed as a trusted public health measure,” said Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers.
Here’s a roundup of restrictions in all 50 states.
What else we’re following
What you’re doing
My friends and I who are working remotely have taken the opportunity to try out what it would be like to be co-workers. We log in to a Zoom meeting each morning and work alongside each other all day. We take a Zoom lunch break every day together, and once a week we do a riddle. It started as a joke, but it certainly helps give structure to our days and keep from feeling isolated.
— Kaitlyn Johnson, Westfield, N.J.
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Tom Wright-Piersanti contributed to today’s newsletter.