Reopened too soon: the ‘COVID Summer’ has begun


Above Photo: Visitors crowd the boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland, at the start of the Memorial Day weekend on May 23, 2020.

The headline in the Arizona Republic today is Arizona saw highest single-day ER visits; Yuma sees spike in cases related to COVID-19 over weekend:

The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients at Yuma Regional Medical Center has tripled over the past two weeks, at least 14 have died, and Arizona emergency room visits related to the new coronavirus pandemic reached a new one-day high over Memorial Day weekend.

A spike in cases at the Yuma hospital contributed to record-high levels of hospitalizations and ER visits related to the coronavirus statewide over the weekend.

On Saturday, the state tallied the highest number of emergency room visits on a single-day for positive and suspected cases of COVID-19.

Statewide hospitalizations for positive and suspected COVID-19, hit an all time high of 833 on Sunday, the state data show. The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the state first broke 800 on May 14, the data shows.

ICU bed use related to COVID-19 also increased over the weekend, according to state data.

As of Tuesday, the Yuma hospital had 60 hospitalized patients who had tested positive for COVID-19, said Dr. Bharat Magu, who is the hospital’s chief medical officer.

“It’s a 300% increase in two weeks,” he said. “We are expecting it to continue to rise, at least for another week to 10 days … We have had a significant jump since Friday.”

Yuma County as of Tuesday afternoon had 797 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 13 known deaths. Magu said at least half of the hospital’s 14 deaths occurred over the weekend, so there will likely be a lag in time before all the deaths are reflected in the county numbers.

He knows of at least two other COVID-19 patients who were transferred out of Yuma to other hospitals in the state and have since died.

Hospital officials had been expecting an influx of COVID-19 patients in late April. That didn’t happen, but the staff never let their guard down, Magu said.

It’s too early to say whether the peak state levels are any indication of a trend.

HINT: All those Memorial Day images of maskless people closely congregating with one another will show up in the emergency room in about two weeks or so. Expect to see new clusters of outbreaks across the country as a result of these large gatherings.

CNBC reports, As states reopen, U.S. sees ‘unmistakable’ rise in coronavirus hospitalizations, former FDA chief says:

U.S. coronavirus hospitalizations have crept higher as states increasingly loosen Covid-19 restrictions and try to return to some semblance of normalcy, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said Tuesday.

“We now see a trend in an uptick in hospitalizations. It’s a small uptick, but it is an uptick and it’s unmistakable and it is probably a result of reopening,” Gottlieb said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “We are going to have to watch it.”

Hospitalizations are a key indicator that epidemiologists watch closely to understand the state of the outbreak. Hospitalizations are not as dependent on the availability of testing as other closely watched measures such as the number of new cases, which is constrained by the number of tests deployed and delayed by shortages of equipment like swabs.

However, hospitalizations are likely a lagging indicator of the underlying reality because it can take weeks for people to become infected, develop symptoms, get tested, receive test results and become sick enough to be admitted to a hospital.

“We expected cases to go up and hospitalizations to bump up when we reopened and I was talking to a lot of states about their plans and they were expecting that there was going to be an uptick,” said Gottlieb, a CNBC contributor who sits on the boards of Pfizer and biotech company Illumina. Pfizer has a Covid-19 vaccine under development. “That’s why they all implemented very staged reopenings where they reopened in phases and then reassessed the data to make sure that any increase wasn’t an inordinate increase.”

Every state has now reopened some nonessential businesses and eased at least some restrictions meant to curb the spread of the virus. However, states are moving at vastly different paces. Wisconsin reopened over night after the state’s Supreme Court overruled the governor’s stay-at-home orders whereas New Jersey has kept most nonessential businesses closed.

Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Alabama, Maryland, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio and Arizona have all seen a small uptick in hospitalizations, said Gottlieb. CNBC could not confirm the data Gottlieb referenced because not all states make hospitalization data available.

Twenty U.S. states reported an increase in new cases of COVID-19 for the week ended May 24, up from 13 states in the prior week, as the death toll from the novel coronavirus approaches 100,000, according to a Reuters analysis. Where U.S. coronavirus cases are on the rise. Link to Graphics.

There are hopes that the virus will spread more slowly during the warmer summer months even as people begin to intermix more, Gottlieb said. There’s little evidence at this point to indicate that Covid-19 is a seasonal virus, but other human coronaviruses have shown seasonality, with most cases peaking in winter.

“The hope is that there’s a seasonal effect here,” Gottlieb said. “And that seasonal effect will hopefully offset the increased social interaction, which is going to cause cases to go up, so as we get into July and August things will start to either level off or go down.”

I guess Commissioner Gottlieb didn’t get the memo. The New York Times reported, Summer Heat May Not Diminish Coronavirus Strength:

[There was hope] that the coronavirus pandemic will fade in hot weather, as some viral diseases do.

But the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, in a public report sent to the White House, has said, in effect: Don’t get your hopes up. After reviewing a variety of research reports, a panel concluded that the studies, of varying quality of evidence, do not offer a basis to believe that summer weather will interfere with the spread of the coronavirus. The pandemic may lessen because of social distancing and other measures, but the evidence so far does not inspire confidence in the benefits of sun and humidity.

Kristian Andersen, an immunologist at the Scripps Research Translational Institute in California and a member of the Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Health Threats at the National Academies, said: “Given current data, we believe that the pandemic likely will not diminish because of summer, and we should be careful not to base policies and strategies around the hope that it will.”

People should still practice social distancing precautions and where protective equipment such as masks as society continues to reopen, Gottlieb said. He added that images of large gatherings across the country over Memorial Day weekend worried him.

“I’m concerned there are people who think this is the all-clear, and I think what we really need to be doing is defining a new normal,” he said. “We’re going to need to live differently until we get a vaccine.”

Up until now, The Coronavirus Is Deadliest Where Democrats Live:

The staggering American death toll from the coronavirus, now approaching 100,000, has touched every part of the country, but the losses have been especially acute along its coasts, in its major cities, across the industrial Midwest, and in New York City.

The devastation, in other words, has been disproportionately felt in blue America, which helps explain why people on opposing sides of a partisan divide that has intensified in the past two decades are thinking about the virus differently. It is not just that Democrats and Republicans disagree on how to reopen businesses, schools and the country as a whole. Beyond perception, beyond ideology, there are starkly different realities for red and blue America right now.

Democrats are far more likely to live in counties where the virus has ravaged the community, while Republicans are more likely to live in counties that have been relatively unscathed by the illness, though they are paying an economic price. Counties won by President Trump in 2016 have reported just 27 percent of the virus infections and 21 percent of the deaths — even though 45 percent of Americans live in these communities, a New York Times analysis has found.

The very real difference in death rates has helped fuel deep disagreement over the dangers of the pandemic and how the country should proceed. Right-wing media, which moved swiftly from downplaying the severity of the crisis to calling it a Democratic plot to bring down the president, has exacerbated the rift. And even as the nation’s top medical experts note the danger of easing restrictions, communities across the country are doing so, creating a patchwork of regulations, often along ideological lines.

This is beginning to change as the pandemic is spreading to the interior of the country and rural areas. As Thom Hartmann notes, The Next Death Wave From Coronavirus Will Be the Poor, Rural and White (excerpt):

African Americans were dying in our cities, Hispanics were dying in meatpacking plants, the elderly were dying in nursing homes.

But the death toll among white people, particularly affluent white people who were less likely to be obese, have hypertension or struggle with diabetes, was relatively low. And those who came through the infection were presumed to be immune to subsequent bouts, so we could issue them “COVID Passports” and give them hiring priority.

The only thing Republicans had overlooked in their master plan to help out the master race was the very real consequence of Reaganomics across the states of the former Confederacy.

Southern states had fought against any sort of state- or federally-funded health care plans since Reconstruction, claiming libertarian ideology while, in fact, their animus was directed at people of color.

Caught in those crosshairs, however, just as had been the case prior to the Civil War, were poor whites.

Many of the same political and economic factors that put African Americans at risk for the past two centuries were also used against poor whites.

* * *

As a result, poor whites in the South are likely to suffer from the diseases and lack of access to health care that make African Americans throughout the country so vulnerable to COVID-19.

And, over the past 40 years, Reaganism has encouraged the spread of deep white poverty from red state to red state. White obesity, diabetes and hypertension are, therefore, overrepresented in poor rural areas as far away as Nebraska and Mississippi.

In fact, the Brookings Institution just reported that of the counties where the virus has most recently exploded, 151 of them went for Trump in 2016 (by an average of 12 percent) and only 25 backed Clinton.

Today, Trump, Fox and his followers think COVID-19 just kills the elderly, blacks and Hispanics—and they seem comfortable with the needless deaths of people they think are different from themselves.

As it spreads into rural white America, however, they’re about to learn otherwise.

When white Trump supporters start dying in “Trump country” in large numbers, only then will this sociopathic Trump administration start to take this pandemic seriously. But it is already too late. The virus has been allowed to spread unchecked. And a second wave is coming this fall and winter.

The virus does not care about political affiliation or religious affiliation, age, race, national origin, sex, or sexual orientation. It does not care about where you live, or recognize state, county or city boundaries. America is a mobile society and the virus has hitched a ride on mobile Americans who are spreading the disease rapidly in the belief that it won’t happen to them, because it only happens to “those people.”

Their last words with their last breath will be “but I never thought it could happen to me.”

UPDATE: The Washington Post reported, A deadly ‘checkerboard’: Covid-19’s new surge across rural America (excerpt):

The pandemic that first struck in major metropolises is now increasingly finding its front line in the country’s rural areas; counties with acres of farmland, cramped meatpacking plants, out-of-the-way prisons and few hospital beds.

In these areas, where 60 million Americans live, populations are poorer, older and more prone to health problems such as diabetes and obesity than those of urban areas. They include immigrants and the undocumented — the “essential” workers who have kept the country’s sprawling food industry running, but who rarely have the luxury of taking time off for illness.

Many of these communities are isolated and hard to reach. They were largely spared from the disease shutting down their states — until, suddenly, they weren’t. Rural counties now have some of the highest rates of covid-19 cases and deaths in the country, topping even the hardest-hit New York City boroughs and signaling a new phase of the pandemic — one of halting, scattered outbreaks that could devastate still more of America’s most vulnerable towns as states lift stay-at-home orders.

“It is coming, and it’s going to be more of a checkerboard,” said Tara Smith, a professor of epidemiology at Kent State University in Ohio. “It’s not going to be a wave that spreads out uniformly over all of rural America; it’s going to be hot spots that come and go. And I don’t know how well they’re going to be managed.”


  1. Remember how the “end the lockdown” MAGA morons in Wisconsin all rushed out to the bars for a drink after the Republicans on the state Supreme Court struck down the governor’s stay at home orders? “Wisconsin saw a record number of new coronavirus cases and deaths reported in a single day on Wednesday, two weeks after the state’s Supreme Court struck down its statewide stay-at-home order.” Way to go, cheeseheads!

    “Wisconsin reports record number of new coronavirus cases, deaths”,

    • I just got an email from my mother in northern Idaho who thinks the rest of the world has gone mad.

      I have other family there as well, members of a group that the SPLC considers a hate group.

      Some of them are pals with Matt Shae, the “biblical war is coming” dude.

      Shae is an elected politician in Washington state who got a briefing from law enforcement at the Malheur standoff and then went inside and shared that info with the militia folks.

      So, you know, traitor, terrorist of the domestic variety. He just recently poured olive oil on the capital steps to protect America from Satanists.

      I suspect a few of them are in a militia themselves. They all get that deer in the headlights look when I ask.

      In other words, they’s good people!

      They all say COVID is a hoax, their town is open, they’re going out, and they’re even “hugging their servers” at their favorite restaurants.

      Only the “very old” are wearing masks.

      The Idaho branch of my family is between 59 and 82 years old.

      In the past I’ve tried to reason with them about some random topic, and when I politely ask for facts to back up something they say, they say they don’t care about facts, it’s “just what I believe”.

      If 101,000 dead Americans in 90 days won’t change their minds, nothing will.

      Should the worst befall any of them, I am not traveling to Idaho for any funerals, because a crowd of people huddled together singing hymns out loud and not wearing masks seems like a bad idea.

        • It’s not so much that I escaped, it’s that my parents are not wired for empathy, a requirement to be a functioning human being.

          They do not have curious minds, where mine won’t shut up with the questions.

          Questions require that you adjust your world view based on the answers so they avoid questions, or get angry at the question. Or the person asking.

          One of my favorite quotes from Little Fires Everywhere was the black woman telling the white woman “you didn’t make good choices, you had good choices”.

          Something that applies to both of them but they are unaware of their privilege.

          They both claim to be Conservative Christians but they’ve never read a page of the Bible, and don’t see that as an issue.

          They also don’t understand that they both led some pretty trashy lives, biblically they should both have been stoned to death a long time ago, but wow, are they judgmental of others.

          I led a pretty trashy life too, but most of it was fun, and I own what wasn’t, and I won’t hold someone else’s trashy life against them.

          Before I go on and get into some online therapy session, let’s just say I was lucky enough to inherit a curious mind and not inherit the ass whole gene.

          Pure luck.

          • Interesting. They say the fruit won’t fall far from the tree and, in my experience, that is generally true. But every now and again one gets away.

            I’m very different from my parents and 95 percent of my relatives. I think that going to Catholic schools made most of the difference. It wasn’t all good but they really drilled in that “God made us all equal”, in His image and so forth.

            So much comes down to pure luck.

          • “They both claim to be Conservative Christians but they’ve never read a page of the Bible, and don’t see that as an issue.”

            However, I’m guessing they were extremely offended by “Life of Brian”.

  2. Remember that Vice President Mike Pence, who is ostensibly the head of the Coronavirus Task Force, predicted to conservative commentator Geraldo Rivera on April 24: “If you look at the trends today, that I think by Memorial Day weekend we will have this coronavirus epidemic behind us.” “Mike Pence predicted the pandemic would be ‘behind us’ by Memorial Day. Instead, hospitalizations are rising as deaths near 100,000.”,

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