Mass protests towards police violence throughout the U.S. have public well being officers involved about an accelerated unfold of the coronavirus. But even earlier than the protests started May 26, sparked by the May 25 loss of life of George Floyd in Minneapolis, a number of states had been recording huge jumps within the variety of COVID-19 circumstances.
The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, registered his concern at a congressional hearing Thursday. He shook his head as a congresswoman confirmed him pictures of throngs of individuals on the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri over Memorial Day weekend and crowds in Florida that had assembled to observe the May 30 launch of the SpaceX Dragon crew capsule.
“We’re very concerned that our public health message isn’t resonating,” Redfield stated. “We continue to try to figure out how to penetrate the message with different groups. The pictures the chairwoman showed me are great examples of serious problems.”
Subscribe to KHN’s free Morning Briefing.
The U.S. continues to be seeing roughly 20,000 new cases a day. The tally ranges broadly by state, from one case a day, on common, final week in Hawaii as much as 2,614 new circumstances a day in California. Specific areas within the Golden State have turn into scorching spots, together with sure counties in every Southern state.
The northeastern states of New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts — which accounted for 1 / 4 of all COVID-19 deaths within the U.S. — are seeing a considerable slowing of latest circumstances.
A better have a look at these hard-hit areas highlights a few of the widespread and distinctive challenges states face as they handle protests and start efforts to reopen the economic system amid the dangers of extra illness and loss of life.
Officials Try To Publicize Cause When Infections Spike
In the South, the timing of latest circumstances seems to be linked to the reopening of eating places, barbershops and gymnasiums, which began in most states greater than a month in the past. Figures tracked by NPR present the variety of circumstances in North Carolina and South Carolina this week is up by roughly 60% from two weeks in the past. In Tennessee, that enhance is 75%.
In Southern states that reopened prior to others, officers generally felt the necessity to clarify huge will increase in case counts on sure days. In Georgia, for instance, a state well being official stated an enormous one-day enhance could possibly be attributed to a backlog of reporting cases from a industrial lab. In Tennessee this week, a every day bounce of 800 circumstances was blamed partially on an ongoing prison outbreak that yielded 350 new constructive take a look at outcomes.
Populous Los Angeles County Drove Case Counts In California
In California, counties are persevering with to permit companies to reopen at the same time as newly confirmed coronavirus circumstances climb. The state skilled a 40% bounce in circumstances over the previous week. Large metro areas like Los Angeles and San Francisco have steadily lifted restrictions, and Californians have responded by touring to seashores and neighboring areas, blurring the effectiveness of the various levels of restrictions between adjoining counties.
Los Angeles County, residence to greater than 10 million individuals, has the best variety of circumstances within the state. Numbers tracked by NPR present that, on common, well being officers report round 1,300 new circumstances every day. The county has blamed gradual lab outcomes for a backlog, whereas acknowledging that group transmission has been ticking up, particularly amongst communities of colour.
In the Northeast, the place New York City grew to become the U.S. epicenter of the pandemic for weeks, there are nonetheless 1000’s of latest circumstances day by day, though the speed of enhance has slowed. It’s down 41% in New Jersey over the previous two weeks, down 33% in New York and down 13% in Massachusetts. But well being officers warning that doesn’t imply the coronavirus is below management in these three states. New York continues to be seeing greater than 1,000 new circumstances a day; over the previous week, Massachusetts averaged simply over 500 a day, and New Jersey had near 800.
Ethnic Disparities Persist Across The Country
In Los Angeles, aged individuals, significantly these who live in nursing homes have been disproportionately affected. Almost half the individuals who have died from COVID-19 within the county had been nursing residence residents. County well being officers had been gradual to check for the virus in nursing properties, and up to date knowledge reported by the well being division reveals that two-thirds of the Los Angeles County well being care staff who died from the virus labored in nursing properties.
People of colour have been disproportionately affected in California, as elsewhere: Latinos make up over half of the COVID-19 cases in California, the place they’re about 40% of the state’s population. In Los Angeles County, the best COVID loss of life charges have been amongst native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders and black residents. Minorities have an elevated threat of growing underlying well being situations like hypertension and diabetes, making them extra more likely to develop a more severe illness if contaminated with the virus.
In Tennessee, which has one of many nation’s fastest-growing case counts, neighborhoods which are residence to giant immigrant populations have emerged as persistent hot spots for an infection. In partnership with advocacy organizations, Nashville’s public well being division has hired group outreach staff with particular expertise or distinctive entry to immigrant communities to conduct contact tracing and join households with coronavirus testing.
“We knew we had to do something different, and that’s what we’re doing now,” stated Leslie Waller, a metropolis epidemiologist who oversees the undertaking.
Waller acknowledges that most of the individuals in danger work in jobs which have been deemed important or personal companies that may’t be run remotely. Public well being officers additionally specific concern that co-workers in close-knit immigrant communities typically carpool to the identical jobs, and a few work websites have skilled large outbreaks.
But in Southern states, rising case counts haven’t slowed the momentum for additional lifting of restrictions. On Thursday, Tennessee introduced an additional loosening of restrictions for group occasions, permitting gala’s, expos and parades. Instead of limiting the quantity of people that can collect, the main focus has shifted to making sure everybody can keep social distance.
“Thanks to the continued hard work of Tennesseans and business owners operating responsibly, we’re able to further reopen our state’s economy,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee stated in a written assertion. “These new guidelines provide useful information so that we can enjoy the events that connect us to our neighbors and communities.”
There has been just about no public dialogue of reinstating enterprise restrictions, as long as hospitals can deal with any uptick in sickness.
Northeast States Take A Slower Approach To Reopening
You nonetheless can’t sit down in a restaurant in New York City or anyplace in Massachusetts and New Jersey. That could also be allowed within the coming weeks, however solely outside. These states are all nonetheless within the early phases of reopening, after residents had been advised to remain residence for nearly two months and all however essentially the most important companies had been closed.
While most states should not have broad necessities for face coverings, guidelines requiring them are extra widespread within the Northeast. In Massachusetts, some type of face overlaying is required indoors and outdoors, should you can’t keep at the very least 6 toes away from different individuals. In New York and New Jersey, masks are required in public and whereas driving buses or trains.
Within some states, guidelines range by county, which may trigger confusion. In Los Angeles County, well being officers made fabric face coverings necessary always when outdoors your own home, whereas San Diego County requires masks solely if you find yourself within 6 feet of another person.
Residents in every single place are chafing on the guidelines, however the hardest-hit states are experiencing wider acceptance of social-distancing guidelines. A poll out final week discovered twice as many New York residents had been fearful about opening too rapidly, in contrast with the variety of New Yorkers who had been fearful about it taking place too slowly. Polls in New Jersey and Massachusetts even have proven higher than majority assist for gradual, phased openings.
Martha Bebinger, WBUR: firstname.lastname@example.org”>email@example.com, @mbebinger
Blake Farmer, Nashville Public Radio: firstname.lastname@example.org”>email@example.com, @flakebarmer