I have friends making travel plans and and friends ready to go back to eating in restaurants. I don't only think they are out of their minds. I think they are going to be severely disappointed. And their idiot governors are encouraging them-- and not just venal monsters like Greg Abbott (R-TX), Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Kristi Noem (R-SD), but also weak incompetent hacks like Gavin Newsom (D-CA), Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) and Steve Sisolak (D-NV). The Texas Tribune reported that 3 of Abbott's 4 pandemic advisors weren't consulted when he lifted the mask mandate this week-- and one went on the record to say it is too soon. Dr. Mark McClellan, a former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said that he doesn't "think this is the right time. Texas has been making some real progress, but it’s too soon for full reopening and to stop masking around others."
Texas and New York have been going back and forth over which state has the most daily cases. Yesterday Texas reported 7,620 new cases and 266 new one-day deaths, while New York reported 7,851 new cases and 142 new deaths, bringing their total cases to 2,679,886 and 1,701,431, respectively-- the second and fourth worst in the U.S. Currently Texas has 171,715 active cases and New York has 876,977. Texas has had 92,423 cases per million Texans and New York has had 87,461 cases per million New Yorkers. Neither state is remotely out of the woods. Yet both states' governors are bending to political and financial pressures to rush to open up prematurely, endangering not just their own citizens but the whole country.
There are now 13 states with more than a hundred thousand cases per million residents-- all but one red, anti-mask states. And by the weekend, the 14th will be... Mississippi, of course-- another state whose brilliant governor just flung open the doors of his beleaguered state to all the new variants and to the Grim Reaper (not McConnell, the actual Grim Reaper).
North Dakota- 131,311 cases per million residents
South Dakota- 127,544 cases per million residents
Rhode Island- 120,153 cases per million residents
Utah- 116,255 cases per million residents
Iowa- 115,691 cases per million residents
Tennessee- 113,913 cases per million residents
Arizona- 112,651 cases per million residents
Oklahoma- 107,594 cases per million residents
Arkansas- 107,148 cases per million residents
Nebraska- 104,222 cases per million residents
Kansas- 102,186 cases per million residents
Alabama- 101,394 cases per million residents
South Carolina- 100,995 cases per million residents
The only European country bigger than a postage stamp to have over 100,000 cases per million is Czechia (118,370 cases per million), which is followed by Portugal (79,262) and Sweden (67,064). With weekly cases increasing in Mississippi, Texas, South Dakota, Arkansas, Tennessee, Colorado, Michigan, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Maine, this morning Axios warned of the danger of a 4th wave. Sam Baker wrote that we "may be on the verge of another surge in coronavirus cases, despite weeks of good news. Nationwide, progress against the virus has stalled. And some states are ditching their most important public safety measures even as their outbreaks are getting worse."
"The U.S. averaged just under 65,000 new cases per day over the past week," he reported. "That’s essentially unchanged from the week before, ending a six-week streak of double-digit improvements. Although the U.S. has been moving in the right direction, 65,000 cases per day is not a number that indicates the virus is under control. It’s the same caseload the U.S. was seeing last July, at the height of the summer surge in cases and deaths."
As for Texas, Baker is as worried about Abbott's actions as I am, reminding readers that outbreak is growing there and that "new cases in the state rose by 27% over the past week." Abbott was clearly eager to get people to stop about all the deaths and destruction caused by his corrupt energy policies... so: "look here-- here's some read meat for ya."
And, if anything, Mississippi is even worse than Texas. "Gov. Tate Reeves," wrote Baker, "also scrapped all business restrictions, along with the state’s mask mandate, on Tuesday. New cases in Mississippi were up 62% over the past week, the biggest jump of any state." Perfect time to throw precaution to the winds!
"If Americans let their guard down too soon," he warned, "we could experience yet another surge-- a fourth wave-- before the vaccination campaign has had a chance to do its work." Despite an improving vaccine rollout, "more contagious variants of the coronavirus are continuing to gain ground, meaning that people who haven’t gotten their vaccines yet may be spreading and contracting the virus even more easily than before. The bigger a foothold those variants can get, the harder it will be to escape COVID-19-- now or in the future. The existing vaccines appear to be less effective against two variants, discovered in South Africa and Brazil, which means the virus could keep circulating even in a world where the vast majority of people are vaccinated... Variants emerge when viruses spread widely, which is also how people die. Whatever 'the end of the pandemic' looks like-- however good it's possible for things to get-- the way to get there is through ramping up vaccinations and continuing to control the virus through masks and social distancing. Not doing those things will only make the future worse."
The end of the pandemic won't come because some self-serving politicians wants it to come or because your friends want to eat out in restaurants again or fly to... whatever godforsaken country is desperate enough to let Americans in. As for the politics of this... the voters don't seem to be falling for the Republicans' partisan bullshit. Most voters have come to understand that congressional Republicans are blocking Biden's efforts to improve the economy and to combat the pandemic.