28 June 2020
Coronavirus is surging in many southern and western U.S. states and has increased in Allegheny County at levels far beyond our experience in late April.
The surge in Pittsburgh is ironic. Allegheny County had zero new cases on 17 June. On 27 June we had 90 new cases. At the time it was the highest single-day increase we’d ever seen. In less than two weeks we squandered two months of effort. And it’s gotten even worse! (see Public Source)
What caused it?
- Good news: Black Lives Matter protests did not cause a surge in cases. Here’s the study.
- Bad news: People, especially young people, are getting too close to each other and not wearing masks. Especially in bars. Texas and Florida are closing bars(*).
After months of study we now know you’re most likely to catch coronavirus through the air, by proximity and time spent near someone (often asymptomatic) who has COVID-19. In other words, not often caught from surfaces. The most likely place to catch it? Bars. (see video).
We know that wearing masks prevents it. Infected people spread the disease before they feel sick so all should wear masks. Your mask protects me, mine protects you.
However, the human brain has a hard time grasping danger it hasn’t experienced yet. We humans don’t learn well from the history of others. And so …
“I think that wherever there’s wood to burn [people to infect], this fire’s going to burn – and right now we have a lot of susceptible people,” said Michael Osterholm, head of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, on NBC.
“I don’t think we’re going to see one, two and three waves. I think we’re going to just see one very, very difficult forest fire of cases.”— The Guardian: Half of U.S. states see coronavirus surge… 22 June 2020
- Ongoing: Allegheny County has record new case counts every day. The Public Source graph, above, is updated daily.
- (*) 29 June 2020: Allegheny County bans on-site consumption of alcohol in bars and restaurants. This has been biggest source of the outbreak.
- 1 July 2020: PA mandates masks for everyone who leaves their home.
- 2 July 2020: Coronavirus cases more than double in 1 day: 233. Allegheny County closes bars, restaurants, casinos for one week.
- 10 July 2020: Indoor dining ban extended for 2 weeks.
- 14 July 2020: A one-day spike on 14 July follows a one-day lull due to delayed reporting. New cases on 13 and 14 July average to 200, which is the average daily rate for more than a week. 200 is not good, but it is not growing. Even better, the infection rate went down on 14 July.
(photos from Wikimedia Commons; click on the captions to see the originals)