The COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. is officially worse than it’s ever been and concerns that opening up may be too soon for Europe .
Friday, June 26, 2020 TimeHealth
The COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. is officially worse than it’s ever been
An average of more than 31,700 new cases were identified on Tuesday and Wednesday in the U.S., surpassing the previous high-water mark of 31,630, which the country hit in April. While the U.S. “flattened the curve” for most of May, that national-level progress has now been lost—Sisyphus is no longer pushing the boulder up the hill so much as chasing it as it tumbles back down, says TIME director of data journalism Chris Wilson.
The pandemic is now best understood as a regional phenomenon. Some states that were hit hard early on, like New York and New Jersey, have been doing well in recent weeks; many area businesses, parks and so on are reopening thanks to that progress. But the latest numbers are downright alarming in states like Texas, Arizona and Florida—and the spikes there can’t be explained away by increased testing, Wilson says. Faced with potential calamity, leaders in at least some of those states are now pausing or reversing their reopening plans.
As the virus spreads through some states, it puts those in other states at risk, too. The U.S. so far has placed only minimal restrictions on people’s ability to travel; roads, bridges and airports can still serve as vectors sparking new local outbreaks. “We don’t live in a country with high border walls around our states,” Wilson says. “So a spike in one place now could mean a spike in another place a month later. Whatever freedoms we’ve been able to enjoy in the last few weeks may have to be rolled back in order to get back to flattening the curve.”
By the way, you may be wondering: why did some publications declare the new high point in U.S. cases earlier than others? It comes down to math, says Wilson. In tracking COVID-19, TIME is using what’s called a “centered” moving average. That helps “smooth” the data, making them more representative of reality over time, but causes slight differences compared to the unaveraged values.
TODAY’S CORONAVIRUS OUTLOOK
The Global Situation
More than 9.6 million people around the world had been sickened by COVID-19 as of 1 AM eastern time today, and more than 489,000 people had died.
Here is every country with over 190,000 confirmed cases:
A group led by the World Health Organization working to alleviate the impact of the pandemic is seeking $31.3 billion over the next year for testing and vaccine development. The group has received $3.4 billion so far, “resulting in a funding gap of $27.9 billion, of which $13.7 billion is urgently needed,” the WHO said in a statement today. “The tools developed will benefit the whole world,” reads the statement.
U.K. officials are worried that people flocking outdoors to enjoy beaches, parks and block parties could exacerbate the spread of COVID-19, the New York Times reports. While people are allowed to gather outdoors in groups of six or less, the warmer summer weather is leading to technically illegal crowds of thousands—especially as the country’s pubs, restaurants and cafes remain closed until July 1.
A spike in cases in the Australian state of Victoria has caused many shoppers to “panic buy” toilet paper, leading some supermarkets to impose restrictions. Thirty-three people have tested positive for the virus in the past 24 hours in Victoria, according to Reuters, marking the ninth straight day that cases there have increased by double digits.
The Situation in the U.S.
More than 2.4 million people in the U.S. had been infected with COVID-19 as of 1 AM eastern time today, and more than 124,000 had died.
On June 25, there were 39,972 new cases and 2,425 new deaths confirmed in the U.S.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said today that the country has made “truly remarkable progress” in fighting the pandemic, despite the record-breaking number of new daily cases in the country. “We’ve all seen the encouraging news as we open up America again,” Pence said at the first Coronavirus Task Force press briefing in several weeks. (He also acknowledged the uptick in cases across the south, and said he would be traveling to Texas, Arizona and Florida in the coming days for a first-hand look at the situation there.)
The governors of Florida and Texas today announced new restrictions on bars as cases continue to grow in their states. Texas Governor Greg Abbott said bars can continue to-go and delivery services, but otherwise must shut down after midnight tonight. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis isn’t fully closing bars, but is ordering them to stop serving alcohol to patrons dining in.
In-person classes will resume in the fall at Alabama’s public schools, officials said today, but individual districts will be given final say in how to reopen. Parents will also be given the option to have their students continue remotely if they so choose. “This will absolutely be the most difficult school year we have ever faced,” Alabama State School Superintendent Eric Mackey said at a press conference this morning, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.
The Blackfeet Tribal Council announced yesterday that it’s closing the eastern border of Montana’s Glacier National Park for the remainder of the tourist season in order to protect residents from COVID-19. The move comes as COVID-19 cases spike in the state.
Lastly, American Airlines said today that it will begin booking flights at full capacity starting next week. The company said it will notify customers if their flights are full and will give them the option to change flights at no extra cost, the Associated Press reports.
All numbers unless otherwise specified are from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering, and are accurate as of June 26, 1 AM eastern time. To see larger, interactive versions of these maps and charts, click here.
WHAT ELSE YOU SHOULD KNOW
Study Confirms: Most Kids Do Not Get Severe COVID-19
A study analyzing data from nearly 600 pediatric virus patients across 21 European countries found that, while more than half were admitted to a hospital, only 8% required intensive care. Furthermore, only four of the patients died from the disease—a fatality rate of 0.69%, writes TIME health reporter Jamie Ducharme. Read more here.
Obit: Congolese Photographer and Video Journalist John Bompengo
John Bompengo, 52, was a multi-talented journalist who easily shifted from radio to print to video as the situation demanded. He is survived by his wife and nine children. Read more here.
How ‘Superspreading’ Events Drive Most Spread
As few as 10% of infected people may drive a whopping 80% of transmission in some situations, reports Scientific American. Read more here.
The Pandemic’s Worst-Case Scenario Is Unfolding in Brazil
As Brazil is on course to become the world’s foremost COVID-19 hotspot, Bloomberg Businessweek has a deep dive into the situation there, demonstrating how the virus can ravage an entire country absent adequate leadership. Read more here.
Obit: Dr. Alyce Gullattee Dedicated Her Life to Treating the Sick
Dr. Gullattee, who died of COVID-19 on April 30, is remembered as a voice for vulnerable patients who advocated for Black medical professionals and those in their care. Read more here.
Today’s newsletter was written by Jasmine Aguilera and edited by Alex