Is the shutdown working? Is the coronavirus losing steam? While even the wisest public health officials may not be able to fully explain the ins and outs of exactly how COVID-19 is behaving in terms of its spread throughout the population (as much as some of them would like us to think they can), the news on Monday is unquestionably good: On April 20th, the U.S. recorded the lowest number of coronavirus-attributed deaths in two weeks.
The refreshingly-low number comes only a few days after the U.S. recorded a grim total of 4,591 deaths in a single day, which, if the numbers keep trending this way, may turn out to be the country’s high-water mark in terms of disease-related fatalities. Monday’s number, 1,433, is a long way down from that high-tide point, and it could mean that this country is finally on its way out of the darkness. It’s good to know, since this week will see several U.S. states, including Georgia and South Carolina, move to get beyond the stay-at-home orders that have kept the economy shuttered for a month.
“Given the favorable data, enhanced testing, and approval of our healthcare professionals, we will allow gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, cosmetologists, hair designers, nail care artists, estheticians, their respective schools and massage therapists to reopen their doors this Friday,” Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said.
A downturn in the number of deaths, if not the number of newly-infected, would come as welcome news for millions of Americans who are hurting badly from the economic shutdown. Workers in some states have grown impatient and disgruntled with their leaders, protesting in state capitols against lockdown orders they deem unnecessarily draconian. While these protests have drawn considerable scorn from Democrats and left-wing media, they are the inevitable result of people who feel their paychecks – to say nothing of their rights – being taken from them due to the pandemic.
The thing to watch now, of course, is whether or not opening up these states for business and recreation will lead to sudden spikes in the number of illnesses we see around the country. If workers and businesses take the proper precautions in terms of social distancing and protective equipment, it may be that we can salvage the economy without sacrificing our lives. If not, we could see spikes that once again force us into shutdown mode.
Hopefully, that won’t happen. Because with more than 20 million unemployed and the U.S. government digging a deficit big enough to fit the moon in, we really need to get the country back to work.