After lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, a number of states began reopening businesses, parks, and more. But, a surge of coronavirus cases across the country suggests that some states are moving a little too quickly. Perhaps most worryingly, it seems the Trump administration is back to ignoring the coronavirus and pretending as if there is no pandemic at all, even as the virus rages on in several regions.
Reported coronavirus cases have climbed past 2.1 million in the United States, and so far, nearly 120,000 people have died due to coronavirus. While the first wave of hotspots, like New York City, have shown progress in beating back coronavirus, in other areas the pandemic is showing signs of picking back up. In the last week alone, 10 states saw a record number of new coronavirus cases: Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, and Texas.
Even as cases rise, the Trump administration is once again trying to downplay the coronavirus. During a Wednesday interview on Gray TV, President Trump claimed the virus is "dying out." However, not only is Trump's statement incorrect, but experts are warning that Florida may become the next epicenter of the coronavirus.
Per CNN, a model by scientists at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania found that Florida has "all the markings of the next large epicenter of the coronavirus transmission" and could be the "worst it has ever been."
"The potential for the virus to take off [in Florida] is very, very nerve-racking and could have catastrophic consequences" because of the state's aging population and the prevalence of nursing homes and retirement communities, Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, director of the division of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told the outlet.
The climbing coronavirus cases may make the pandemic even worse for communities of color. A number of the 10 states CNN listed have significant Black populations, while the Navajo Nation extends into portions of Arizona. Previous reporting has found that both of these communities are already disproportionately impacted by the virus: For example, Black people are more likely to say a family member or close friend died of the coronavirus and the federal government has largely left the Navajo Nation to fend for themselves.
Part of the issue is that the Trump administration has stopped really providing updates on or talking about the pandemic. In fact, Trump will hold his first campaign rally since lockdowns began in Tulsa, Oklahoma in direct contradiction to reopening plans. Originally planned for Juneteenth, the rally was delayed one day after intense backlash. Still, the most attention Trump's campaign has paid to coronavirus as it prepares for the rally is making attendees sign a disclaimer saying they won't sue the campaign if they fall sick.
On top of that, Trump's coronavirus czars, Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, are no longer meeting with the president daily to discuss updates and strategy. Vice President Mike Pence, who was leading Trump's coronavirus task force, spread misinformation about the virus earlier this week, saying rising cases were simply the result of more testing.
“As states are moving to reopen the economy, as people are increasing their social activities, it becomes even more important that the public understand the critical value in following public health guidance — wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands, staying home if you’re sick,” Dr. Richard Besser, a former acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told The New York Times.
Besser went on to add that “without that daily reinforcement, you have what is happening around the country — people not believing the pandemic is real, cases rising in some places and the possibility that some communities’ health care systems will get overwhelmed.”
Unfortunately, the administration's lack of attention is on brand given that records show the administration basically ignored coronavirus for two months while it brewed in the U.S. Unfortunately, pandemics don't disappear just because officials decide they don't want to deal with it anymore.