While numbers are currently declining in some hot spots, they are spiking in places like Iowa, Illinois, and the surrounding Midwestern states, signaling what may be a new phase in the country fight against the virus.
The U.S. can’t seem to put Covid-19 behind it. The fluctuations of case counts are up and down in various parts of the country, as progress in one state is consistently offset by infections in others, with very little improvement overall.
There are many factors at play. Politics certainly plays a role, as do school reopenings and even events ranging from protests to the Sturgis motorcycle rally. Perhaps it’s also a sign of the frustration and exhaustion Americans feel after months of masks and hand sanitizer, social distancing and isolation, closing businesses, and travel challenges making many feel stuck and emotionally suffocated. Fed up with the status quo, people are starting to put their guard down, leaving room for the virus to continue spreading as the country seeks to reopen the economy.
Overall, U.S. cases this week surpassed 6 million. In the Midwest, positivity rates have reached alarming levels. It’s beginning to feel like a rolling fire with assorted flare-ups. With each state having different mandates, it will be increasingly difficult to have a handle of the situation, especially as we’re entering flu season.
Iowa, for instance, a state which currently has no state-wide mask mandate, has recorded 65,478 cases, with new cases rising 50% in the last two weeks. Even Iowa State University in Ames reported that 28.8% of the students, faculty, and staff tested in the most recent week had the virus, although school officials have focused their testing on people showing symptoms or those who have been exposed to someone with the virus. The University of Iowa has reported 922 cases within its campus population.
Earlier today, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds defended Iowa State University’s decision to host a football game in its stadium where 25,000 fans are expected to attend — advising people who may be concerned to not go.
“If you have underlying conditions and you’re part of a vulnerable population, maybe I wouldn’t go to the Iowa State football game next week,” Reynolds said during a press briefing when asked whether it’s safe to host thousands of fans in the stands for the university’s home opener.
In Ohio, Covid-19 first started in the urban parts of Cleveland and Columbus. But the spread is now making waves in rural regions due to social gatherings and the return to grade school and universities.
Mike DeWine, Republican Governor of Ohio, has attributed the spread to the reopening of schools. “The virus is not going away,” DeWine, a Republican, said. “We think a significant part of this is caused by our colleges going back as well as our grade schools going back.”
Illinois, too, has seen a resurgence of the virus over the last two months, reversing the progress that had lowered counts in May and June. On Aug. 22, statewide daily cases hit the highest since May, and on Tuesday the death count reached the most since June 26. “We do not want to be part, here in Chicago, of this surge that we’re seeing broadly across the Midwest,” said Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.
She noted Iowa, which ranks first in cases per capita, is among the states on the city’s quarantine list and Indiana may be added next week given clusters developing in college towns. In Indiana, the counties in which the University of Notre Dame and Ball State University are located are also contributing to a surge in virus cases, according to public health authorities. People have unfortunately started to let their guard down in Chicago and across Illinois with more cases developing when people at weddings, reunions, and other gatherings don’t wear masks, watch their distance or wash hands frequently.
Even within states, public health officials have struggled to make consistent progress across all of their cities and counties. California, for instance, managed to stifle outbreaks in the urban San Francisco and Los Angeles areas only to see cases spike in the rural Central Valley.
According to Bloomberg, Mark Ghaly, secretary of the state Health and Human Services agency, said “the outbreak appeared to have been driven in part by the valley’s big farms, which employ large numbers of migrant workers. Those workers, who mostly Spanish speakers, weren’t hearing the state’s messages about wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.”
As resources are pouring in to help stomp the spread of the virus, the number of Californians hospitalized with Covid-19 has dropped below 4,000, after peaking above 7,000 in July. That said, the uncertainty and the consistent resurgence of case numbers have halted the economy and put the US in a recession that will take years to overcome. For example, while the unemployment rate has dropped in recent months, it’s still above 10%. After the 2008 crash, unemployment was under 8%, just to put it in perspective.
Here’s where the domino effect comes in. In order to keep the economy afloat, the Fed will have to print trillions of dollars more should the government want to move forward with another stimulus package. This will increase the national debt and devalue the dollar’s buying power. This will lead to an economic and bank collapse where your savings will once again be at risk.
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