It really isn’t rocket science to see what COVID-19 is doing to our world. I think most people look at the facts, and at the statistics, and have an awareness of the big picture. Even if they are not consciously crunching the numbers, it’s pretty obvious.
It’s now a known fact that many thousands of people flew into New York and other northeastern points from Europe, while the country was focusing all their attention on China. It’s known that, during this time, the virus was already getting a foothold in Europe, and yet travel continued for quite a long while.
It’s also known now that SARS-CoV-2, with its myriad of symptoms and manifestations, is contagious well before a person starts to feel sick. It’s also a fact, medically proven, that people can be infected, and contagious, without ever having any symptoms at all.
Experts estimate that before the first definite COVID-19 case was confirmed in New York, on March 1st, 2020, there were very likely at least 10,000 active cases wandering around New York City and the southern part of the state. At that point, the virus had a R0 factor of 2-2.5, which means that every undetected contagious person out there was infecting two to two and a half other people, on average.
The results? Over 300,000 positive cases, and over 19,000 deaths in the state. At its peak, New York State was seeing over 11,000 new cases confirmed every single day, and the state was seeing over 700 deaths per day.
This cause and effect happened because nothing was being done, or at least it wasn’t being done fast and hard enough, to stop the spread of the virus, in the earliest days. Then, we caught on, and began to levy restrictions.
These restrictions increased until, on March 20th, the official state-wide Stay At Home order was initiated. People had to stay in their homes unless they were either essential workers, or had to perform life-sustaining errands such as food shopping or picking up prescriptions. Non-essential businesses were shut down completely, or reduced significantly (such as the cases of restaurants being able to stay open for take-out and delivery). No gatherings of any size were allowed, unless between people who already lived in the same home. Then, the order came down that we all had to wear masks in public whenever the designated six-feet-of-separation distance could not be maintained.
For the most part, people complied.
The numbers started to come down. New York passed its peak, wholly because of the actions of its citizens. People were taking care of each other. As of May 3rd, the state was seeing about 2,500 new cases every day. Is that still a lot? Yes, it is, but it’s a far cry from 11,000. On that day, only 226 people died of COVID-19.
“Only” 226. That is still 226 too many. 226 losses, 226 people whose families and friends are never going to see their loved-one again. But, again, when compared to over 700….
It’s a no-brainer. The social distancing guidelines, the restrictions, the inconveniences that we are all going through, work. By taking care of each other, by watching out for our neighbors, by wearing masks and staying apart, we are quite literally saving lives. Thousands of lives.
Then, people became frustrated. They wanted to get together again. They wanted to go back to work. The ones who did (or could) not apply for unemployment insurance, and whose work places had to shut down, were having trouble paying the bills. They got tired of wearing masks. They, or certain groups of them, complained that their freedoms were being abused.
Some people decided that saving lives wasn’t enough reason to suffer the consequences of a shut-down state. Others decided that we were all being hoaxed, used, hoodwinked by the politicians “on the other side.” Some complained that these politicians were taking our freedoms away to control us.
They took off their masks. They began challenging those who asked them to wear them. They started gathering in doorways and on porch steps, unprotected, touching, sharing close space, sharing the air between them. They stood in lines and in parking lots, close together, in clusters, talking, laughing.
In some areas, they stood in groups in front of government buildings, protesting loudly. There were even numerous examples around the country of people doing this armed.
Today, a news report hit the airwaves of a security guard in Michigan who was shot to death … because he wouldn’t let a girl shop in the store without a face mask.
Shot. To. DEATH.
In my little county, when people were complying with the guidelines, we had a total of 20-something cases. We were seeing maybe one a week, sometimes not even that.
After the gatherings started, and people began defying the guidelines, in one week, we saw ten new cases.
Ten. No, it’s not 11,000, but it’s ten more than the “zero” we had been often seeing before.
Other areas of the country where similar protests are being held, and things are opening up, are also seeing a rise in case count.
Cause and Effect? Maybe it’s too soon too tell, but the evidence suggests … yes. Cause and Effect. And it’s going to get worse.
This virus is deadly. No, it’s not killing everyone, and yes, a lot of people are recovering. But it is killing. It has killed over 19,000 people in my state alone. In the US, over 68,000 have died. Those are facts.
Those numbers are going to go up. As the country opens up, and more and more people are gathering in groups without proper distancing and protection, people will die. We will head right back up the slope, undoing all the good that we’ve done in the last couple months, if we continue to ignore the truth.
Experts have put together a plan for opening up the state in the safest possible way. It will allow businesses to open in stages, starting with those that are lowest risk and highest need. However, until each region meets all criteria, that reopening will be put on hold. As long as people are ignoring health and safety guidelines, that hold may be indefinite, because the case count will continue to rise (and those numbers remaining below a certain level is one of the criteria). The people who are so eager for their states to open up that they are refusing to follow the safety guidelines are the very ones who may cause that opening to be delayed or halted due to a case increase.
When we get through this (if we get through this), the economy will come back. The little shops and business will come back. The freedom to congregate will come back. The ability to go into Walmart without wearing a mask will come back. The jobs, and the weddings, and the funerals, and the picnics, and the team sports will come back.
The dead won’t come back.
Cause and Effect. It’s really not hard to understand.
For More Information
- NY State COVID-19 Info By County
- CNN Live Coronavirus Updates
- Governor Cuomo’s YouTube Channel (for press briefings)
- World Health Organization Coronavirus Information
- CDC’s Coronavirus Information
- New York’s phased plan for reopening
- Interesting video that shows how breath spreads the virus and face masks can help