The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t finished with us yet. A spike in infections in recent weeks has sent new cases to records in a number of places around the world including the U.S., which already weathered two waves of outbreaks this year. And the weather is only starting to turn cold.
Europeans have started taking draconian action again, despite the potential drag on their economies. France has introduced a new lockdown which is only slightly less harsh than the one it imposed in the spring. Germany has opted for lockdown-lite. So what is the U.S. going to do?
Hospitalizations, which had been on the decline, are now rising again, with some health systems feeling the strain. In Wisconsin, a field hospital was opened on the state’s fairgrounds to accommodate patients, while capacity in El Paso, Texas, is so overtaxed that a county judge imposed stay-at-home orders. Elsewhere, though, and as a whole, hospitalizations are nowhere near where they were during the previous big outbreaks. As a result, there is a risk that the administration, governors and the public misinterpret the severity of this latest wave or downplay the danger beyond a few hotspots. This would be a mistake, and a good look at the data shows why.