Red States’ Re-openings Are Not Performing As Advertised
The re-opening thing is not working as advertised. New cases of COVID-19 are on the uptick in states where militant anti-stay at home protesters demanded that community mitigation come to a halt.
Texas, even before Governor Abbott officially began authorization to relax community mitigation state wide, began to see an increase in cases and deaths. Since then, on May 16th, the state had its largest one day increase since the pandemic began, with 1,801 new cases.
There are now 45,198 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services – an increase of 1,347 cases from last Thursday to Friday – with the daily increase of cases, totaling 1,219. Deaths are on the upswing, not trending downward.
The state also experienced its highest and second-highest daily death toll just a day apart. On Thursday (May 14), 58 deaths were recorded in 24 hours and Friday (May 15th) – 56, according to the health department. That was two of many peaks in the chart since May 1.
Arizona, where we recently reported that a certain element among the population is engaging in irresponsible behavior directly after the lifting of stay at home orders, had an increase of 462 cases the same day and as of Wednesday, has 14, 897 confirmed cases, and 747 deaths – an increase of 37 deaths from just one day earlier.
North Carolina also had a substantial number of new cases as last reported on the 16th, of 853 – again, a state record. As of Tuesday, the new cases stood at 677 for the day.
In the Oklahoma panhandle, the increase of coronavirus cases in the last several days, has prompted the Mayor of Guyman, a town of 11,278 on Interstate 54, to issue a state of emergency order, consequent to the status of having the third highest number of confirmed cases in the state, trailing only Tulsa and Oklahoma City.
It should be noted that in the case of Oklahoma, the governor in that state never actually declared a statewide community mitigation order. Despite that, these flare ups in new cases and the virus they represent, don’t have GPS devices to tell them where the state boundaries are located.
The seven-day average in new cases in all three states has also been rising, according to data compiled by The New York Times. But these trends are by far not exclusive to Arizona, Texas and North Carolina.
South Dakota and Alabama are two other states that provide an example of how elected officials are getting ahead of the measurables that add up to a safe scenario for phasing in a re-opening.
We always expected to see an uptick in new covid19 cases as states re-opened and the data seems to be indicating that cases are rising in reopen states. Some of these increases are a function of more testing; but some rise in new cases, as states re-open, should also be expected. pic.twitter.com/3uJyfTOyrt
— Scott Gottlieb, MD (@ScottGottliebMD) May 12, 2020
Alabama and South Dakota have already begun to see an uptick in confirmed coronavirus cases since they’ve eased coronavirus restrictions and begun reopening nonessential businesses, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said Tuesday.
Dr. Gottlieb added, “The bottom line is a lot of states are now reopening activity against a backdrop that doesn’t meet the criteria that the White House set out in terms of when it would be safe to reopen. We’re going to see cases go up now that we’re reopening.”
“It is not surprising that we are seeing more reported cases given that we have started to reopen, people are more mobile and we’re doing a lot more testing,” said Aaron McKethan, a senior policy fellow at the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy.
One prominent Republican governor, Ohio’s Mike DeWine, sees warning signs in the data, pointing out that his state is at a “plateau” in new cases when he would rather see a decline.
“This is really probably the most crucial time, the most dangerous time, because we are opening back up, because we have to open back up,” he said. “But, at the same time, that creates more exposure, more opportunity for this virus to spread.”
There are a couple of other critical aspects to note. There appears to be indications that some states are making an active effort to under report, new cases and deaths.
One instance of this is what is believed to have happened in Florida. The Tampa Bay Times reports that Governor De Santis ordered a department manager, Rebekah Jones, of the state’s health agency, who maintained the state’s COVID-19 data, fired.
The motive for the firing, is that the Governor’s office ordered that she manipulate the data in a manner that would reflect a better picture for political considerations, including data that indicated that De Santis’ office should have known since early January that the virus was active in the state.
Democrats in the State Senate, see Jones’ firing as punishment for not going along with the political agenda. Senator Janet Cruz, (Tampa), said in a press conference that, “(Jones) was a brave woman who refused to fudge the numbers and she was punished for it, and that’s wrong.”
Dr. Mohammed Ali, associate professor of epidemiology at Emory University in Atlanta, regarding the potential for the numbers to increase in areas that up to now, seemed relatively less affected, told CNBC that:
“We just don’t know right now, so there’s this very awful nervousness in the air. Everybody is bracing themselves for if it picks up and if it goes faster than we expect, and there is a sort of logarithmic, exponential nature to this infection. We could have a surge like we haven’t had yet.”
And referring to Georgia, and what he considers a premature decision on the part of Governor Brian Kemp to re-open, including types of businesses that pose an outsized risk, Dr. Ali noted, “We didn’t even meet the president’s guidelines of 14 days of downward trend. And here we are doing it with three or four days of downward trend. There was a lack of transparency in making the decision.”
One final news item that highlights the cost of getting the re-opening wrong, by applying a political calculus rather than a health based one, is the report that just came out of China that the central government in Beijing has resorted to shutting down a handful of large population centers that they have re-classified as “high risk”, due to new outbreaks of the virus.