Even as cases spiral, many state leaders — wary of inflaming a worn-out public, dismissive of the pandemic, or philosophically opposed to government intervention — are not implementing the types of measures that succeeded in reining in major outbreaks in the spring and summer. By and large, public leaders — some Democrats but particularly Republicans — are putting the impetus on individuals to take steps to slow transmission instead of spearheading new campaigns to curtail the coronavirus.
“Things are completely out of control in Utah right now, and they’re not really doing anything about it,” Stephen Goldstein, a virologist at the University of Utah, said last week about government officials in his state, which has seen record infections and deaths in the past week and where hospital administrators have warned that clinicians might have to start rationing care because of the crush of patients.
Some governors and other elected officials say the public is tired of burdensome interventions. Leaders also feel burned by the backlash to more intensive measures or believe the virus will spread no matter what, so restrictions that harm the economy and society aren’t worth the costs. The result, experts say, is a dangerous combination of fatigue, fatalism, and forfeiture that will only result in more illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths. On Election Day, the country once again crossed 1,000 daily Covid-19 deaths, and it has stayed above that mark most days since, according to STAT’s Covid-19 Tracker.