The numbers speak for themselves as updated on Nov. 18: 11, 699,233 total cases with 151,855 new cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) since Jan. 21; total deaths stand at 254,329 with 762 new deaths reported to the CDC since Jan. 21.
The greatest spikes in new cases have been reported in Iowa, West Virginia, Maine and Puerto Rico. And the hands of the clock continue to move forward.
Unfortunately, America’s leaders, more accurately, the president of the United States, has placed his foot on the necks of Americans with his refusal to concede and accept the results of the recent election.
And with that refusal and last gasp efforts to prove voter fraud in several lawsuits in states which include Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, he continues to confound the efforts of President-Elect Joe Biden who says he has a plan to confront the health pandemic.
Biden, addressing the Trump Administration’s continued stance to delay the sharing of information on COVID-19 strategies, protocols and the planned distribution of future vaccines, said the following when a reporter asked him how he viewed the impact of Trump’s refusal to cooperate.
“More people may die,” Biden said on Monday, Nov. 16 during a press conference. “If we have to wait until Jan. 20 (the day of his inauguration) for planning, that puts us one and ½ months behind. We must start the coordination now.”
Biden’s words would be delivered with a shroud of anxiety, fear — even doubt — felt by many Americans. Even with two vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna reportedly near the stage of approval by health officials, more than half of all Americans polled say they’re hesitant about taking fast-tracked vaccines.
Their doubts and reluctance, according to a growing number of Americans, come from placing their trust in social media and the online community rather than the medical experts. Additionally, false information continues to be funneled into online reports further spreading doubts about the efficacy of vaccines which will reportedly be available in the coming months.
On Nov. 17, national reporters shared heartbreaking stories from doctors and nurses on the front lines. They indicate that hospital ICUs are either reaching or already at capacity. One-in-10 patients are now testing positive for the coronavirus. As the health community has indicated, many hospitals count as hot zones that stand on the precipice of their breaking points.
Yet, despite the numbers and the severity of the situation America faces, hundreds of thousands of citizens continue to wait in hours-long lines across the nation for COVID-19 testing. ABC News reported on Nov. 17 that lines stretched into thousands of hopeful Americans in New York, California and on hundreds of U.S. college campuses.
Casting caution to the wind, it seems that many have plans to go home for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Most state officials, however, advise that we forgo our celebrations this year. They’re telling college students to remain on campus. Further, they’ve declared that a negative test result should not encourage people to frequent a few holiday gatherings or neighborhood watering holes.
As noted earlier in this report, one of the greatest hindrances to overcoming the pandemic remains Donald Trump. Transition turmoil continues with the president still blocking the Biden team from receiving briefings on the pandemic.
The nation’s top COVID-19 official, Dr. Fauci, says he’s eager to bring Biden up to speed on everything from proposed plans for the distribution of two yet-to-be-approved vaccines to the challenges faced in hospitals. But Trump has so far remained adamant.
Across the waters, in Italy, a terrible, new and deadly wave has struck the nation. ABC News reports that the country now faces a 30 percent mortality rate. Two weeks ago, the total of new cases stood at 2,700 per day. That number has since escalated to 37,000 new cases daily.
Readers may recall that Italy counted as the first European nation to be devastated by the pandemic. They brought their numbers under control by initiating strict lockdowns which resulted in a reduction of both deaths and infections. But now the winter has brought a new surge as was predicted by health officials.
Dr. Fauci points to the two vaccines as strong and as an effective step toward defeating the virus. Still, he says that with one million cases reported in the past 76 days and with the average number of deaths in the U.S. up some 33 percent from two weeks ago, time is of the essence.
Many cities and states have taken matters into their own hands. In California, 41 counties have decided to close indefinitely. New Jersey’s governor has limited numbers at both indoor and outdoor gatherings as has the city of Philadelphia.
Locally, in the District, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and Medstar Health Research Institute in D.C. are collaborating with Johns Hopkins University on two new COVID-19 treatment and prevention studies. Both use convalescent plasma and both are recruiting participants in the D.C. metropolitan area.
Reportedly, it remains the first U.S. multi-center, double-blind, randomized clinical trial to assess the effectiveness of convalescent blood plasma as outpatient therapy for COVID-19. The new clinical trial seeks to determine whether giving people antibodies is effective at treating early-stage coronavirus and in preventing those exposed to it from catching the disease.
(Visit CovidPlasmaTrial.org for an enrollment questionnaire.)
Conversations with Black Americans
But how do Americans feel about the recently touted vaccines or the new lockdown orders which they must now endure?
One businessman, 59, from Pasadena, shared his views.
“L.A. County is not closed — not yet. And we’re the largest county in Southern California. But we have the benefit of great weather so outdoor dining is something that we can take advantage of,” said the African-American corporate executive who agreed to speak anonymously.
“We’ve already seen a lot of our smaller businesses shut down and close. It’s tough and it’s getting worse. California did well in the beginning. Our governor had a strong, well-managed plan to combat the pandemic. But I think politics got in the way. The push was to open and to open fast. That stood against the governor’s four-step, science-based plan. We moved too fast. And now we’re back at the numbers reported during the stage one lockdown.”
“We could have avoided this if we had stayed on track. Even back during Memorial Day, people wanted to get out. They wanted to enjoy weekends at the beach. But there wasn’t much else you could do then, in May, because everything was closed. Even many of my friends who were very cautious in the beginning seem to have gotten tired and frustrated. Some of them have let their guard down and loosened their standards related to safety.”
Indeed, the virus numbers appear depressing. Forty states continue to head in the wrong direction with 17 states reporting their highest number of new infections since the start of the pandemic.
In Michigan, the governor recently suspended classes for all of the state’s high schools and colleges for at least the next three weeks. Two months ago, only 10 states were trending in the wrong direction. During the summer surge, 77,000 daily infections was the peak number. On Friday, Nov. 13, that number had soared to 185,000 new infections daily. Positivity rates have hit new highs in several states: South Dakota, 60 percent; Idaho, 42 percent; Alabama, 24 percent; and Pennsylvania, 22 percent.
At the current rate, experts from the Covid Tracking Project predict that the daily death rate, now recorded at 1,300 on Nov. 14, could be as high as 2,100 daily deaths by mid-January.
This reporter spoke with his youngest child who now resides in New York — a millennial — for his thoughts.
“I understand the restrictions being proposed and helpful but at the same time I’m concerned about small business owners,” said Jared McNeir, 26. “The state’s shutting down everything and that’s necessary. But the federal government must provide financial assistance. Americans tend to think as individuals and that’s part of the pushback. But people need to more willingly comply. I think they will if they believe that their individual needs will continue to be met,” McNeir said.
Dale Green, 53, a federal government employee and African American living in Chicago, commented on the mayor’s 14-day, stay-at-home quarantine which went into effect on Monday, Nov. 16.
“The new restrictions don’t bother me personally because I wasn’t going out a lot anyway,” Green said who noted that he mostly works from home these days.
“During the summer, we could still go to the parks and people were there in droves. The police were pretty lenient too — letting people stay out well beyond park curfews and allowing them to bring their own alcohol. But now it’s getting cold.”
“I have younger relatives who still have gatherings with a lot of guests but I’m not attending those kinds of events. People are arguing that they have their right to do what they want but I have a friend who almost died from the virus. Knowing someone personally who was affected by it — a very close friend — who was on a ventilator and with whom I’d hung out about a week before he was hospitalized, made me think. It made it more real.”
“Maybe those who don’t want to follow the precautions are doing that because they don’t believe it can happen to them. But it can,” Green said.