I don’t know that there’s much to add to this morning’s post except to confirm that, yes, the long-feared rise in daily deaths in hot-spot states seems to be upon us. Texas recorded 98 deaths yesterday, a new record, and topped it today with 105. Total hospitalizations in the state also set a new record and are approaching 10,000.
All of that is still just a shadow of what New York went through in April, when that state reached nearly 800 dead on a single day. The point here isn’t that Texas is comparable, just that the mystery of why deaths hadn’t been rising nationally lately as cases exploded seems to be in the process of finally being solved.
The big news is Florida, though. They were an exception to the trio of states I wrote about earlier, as they hadn’t broken any records in terms of deaths in the past 48 hours. They have now.
FL today shattered its daily death record, with 120, 45% more than the 83 reported dead on April 28
Daily hospitalizations also hit record highs of 409. The 7-day average of 288 is well above the pre-reopening peak of 171
Oh, & school classrooms are nothing like big box stores https://t.co/9GS3GgnrGc
— Marc Caputo (@MarcACaputo) July 9, 2020
I don’t know what DeSantis is thinking comparing classrooms to Home Depot. It’s not just a matter of one space being much larger than another, it’s the fact that Florida’s eagerness to reopen businesses like Home Depot is partly to blame for what it’s suffering through now. I flagged an expert in this post who thinks we got it all wrong by prioritizing businesses over schools in May; Anthony Fauci went further today by singling out Florida as an example of a state that reopened before it should have under the White House guidelines.
— FiveThirtyEight (@FiveThirtyEight) July 9, 2020
What does the national death toll look like amid all this? Well, slightly better than yesterday, which is good. But noticeably worse than last week, which further confirms that we’re seeing a belated trend towards higher deaths now after weeks of case counts rising:
Nationally, the 7-day average in deaths has begun to rise after an extended decline. The last three days were the highest numbers we’ve since early June. pic.twitter.com/fRlYZeYrxa
— The COVID Tracking Project (@COVID19Tracking) July 9, 2020
That's now 3 days in a row with death tolls elevated over the same day a week ago. And while lags from the holiday weekend (which featured low death tolls) may account for *some* of that, we've now more than made up for the low weekend numbers with high ones this week.
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) July 9, 2020
DeSantis has said repeatedly that he won’t issue new lockdown orders. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has also warned recently that he won’t allow cities and counties to lock down again, as that would defy his current executive order. (In fact, the mask mandate he recently imposed on Texas was pitched to the public as a sort of half-measure that would allow the state to stay open safely.) What does Fauci think about that?
“What we are seeing is exponential growth. It went from an average of about 20,000 to 40,000 and 50,000. That’s doubling. If you continue doubling, two times 50 is 100,” Fauci said on a Wall Street Journal podcast. “Any state that is having a serious problem, that state should seriously look at shutting down. It’s not for me to say because each state is different.”
On Thursday, however, Fauci said states should not necessarily think about it as a complete shutdown, according to the Hill, but rather that states should update their restrictions, tailoring them to what is currently known about the virus.
“Rather than think in terms of reverting back down to a complete shutdown, I would think we need to get the states pausing in their opening process, looking at what did not work well and try to mitigate that,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told The Hill’s Editor-at-Large Steve Clemons. “I don’t think we need to go back to an extreme of shutting down.”
That reminds me of the time Trump criticized him as someone who likes to play both sides, saying one thing behind closed doors and another in front of the public. In this case he may have gotten out over his skis. There’s strong resistance among Trump and Republican governors to locking down again; if he starts pushing for that, he might lose whatever remaining influence he has with them. So he backed off.
Back to Florida. The epidemic there is now concerning enough that even proponents of reopening schools soon, as DeSantis wants, are starting to get cold feet. Recently the American Academy of Pediatrics put out a statement strongly encouraging states to have in-person classes for kids this fall, not just to keep their educations moving along but because the lack of social contact could damage them psychologically. Today the group’s president was asked about DeSantis’s desire to follow through on reopening them and, well, her enthusiasm has waned a bit:
Well, let me just ask about that — the level of virus in the state of Florida — we saw 7,000 new cases in a single day this week. I mean, would you encourage schools to open today if that decision had to be made based on the numbers you’re seeing?
The way the numbers are looking in Florida right now are concerning. The level of the virus is really high. And so a statewide mandate to reopen [schools] without consideration of community spread really goes against our recommendations.
So you think that this was not a good idea for officials in Florida to come out [Tuesday] and say, “You all have to reopen this fall?”
We know that COVID is still a dangerous virus, and it’s circulating throughout the country. And there are definitely hot spots, and Florida is one of them. And so all decisions really have to be made with public health and the school officials looking at that as part of their decision-making on whether they can reopen safely.
Florida’s epidemic is also a potential problem for the GOP given the upcoming convention in Jacksonville although mitigation efforts are reportedly in the works. They’re looking at outdoor venues now for Trump’s speech, which was inevitable given the bad press they got last night out of Tulsa. Outdoor venues aren’t perfectly safe either but they’re easier to defend from media attacks than indoor ones are. Trump can simply point to the BLM protests and say he’s exercising the same amount of care about transmissions as the woke darlings of America’s press did.
Speaking of which, here’s America’s worst mayor — who was praised today by Fauci as someone who “understand[s] what it means to go by the guidelines” for reopening — telling Wolf Blitzer he’ll maintain a ban on all mass gatherings in the name of containing the virus, with one exception. You would think losing a federal court case over his arbitrary politically motivated line-drawing in issuing social-distancing regulations would have taught him to be more careful about what he says, especially since he’s engaged in obvious viewpoint discrimination here. But they don’t call him America’s worst mayor for nothing.
.@NYCMayor Bill de Blasio tells Wolf Blitzer that he is banning all large gatherings in New York City except for Black Lives Matter protests.
Wolf Blitzer follows up by asking about the U.S. Open. pic.twitter.com/KGsnAdXDhK
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) July 9, 2020