The good news is that the rate of coronavirus infections has lately slowed across America, but the bad news is that’s not true everywhere. The populous states of Texas and Florida have seen alarming increases in the infection rate since loosening restrictions on businesses and public gatherings, and it’s happening here in Sedgwick County, Kansas, too.
Which is not surprising. All those restrictions were the apparent reason the rate of infections had slowed, and numerous experts had warned against loosening them too soon. The restrictions were bad for business and onerous for everyone, though, and after weeks of being cooped up the temptation to get back to normal proved too tempting to resist.
Our fervent hope is that the recent spikes prove temporary, and that hot weather and the remaining restrictions and everybody’s newfound habit of staying several feet away from one another keeps the numbers down, but we’re not betting on it. The coronavirus has largely disappeared from the news because of the attention being paid to all the peaceful protesting and violent rioting about racism and police brutality, and the many instances of videotaped police brutality that have ensued, but that doesn’t mean it has disappeared. It’s still out there, spreading more rapidly in many places, and isn’t likely to go away in time for Election Day.
Even if there’s a second wave worse than the first, those restrictions are so bad for business and so onerous for everyone that the temptation to get back to normal will still be irresistible. Fear of the coronavirus doesn’t seem to have stopped all those peaceful protesters and violent rioters from the taking to the streets in large public gatherings, and President Donald Trump has decided that if they can do it he should be able to resume holding his crowded and raucous campaign rallies this month. He might be risking his supporters’ health, but he’s been in the casino business and presumably knows how to play the odds.
Public health officials around the country are urging anyone who’s been involved a demonstration or riot to be tested, on the other hand, and they’ve been mingling with others outdoors and by what we can tell from the news coverage seem far more likely to be wearing a face mask than the typical Trump supporter. The typical Trump supporter feels as passionate about their president as those demonstrators feel about racism and police brutality, however, so we expect large public gatherings to continue through the summer and into the autumn even if the major sports leagues don’t start up again.
More than 109,000 Americans have already died of COVID-19, which more than have died in every American war since Vietnam, and the final death toll will depend on what Americans do over the coming months. As Trump likes to say, we’ll see.
— Bud Norman