Last night, we shared the findings from a bombshell report which found that hospital foot traffic and COVID-19-related search terms surged in Wuhan and the surrounding area as early as October or November, suggesting that the virus might have already been spreading in Wuhan for months before China informed the WHO on New Year’s Eve about the “newly discovered” virus.
Beijing infamously withheld evidence of human-to-human transmission until later in January, when it finally alerted the international community, kicking off the global coronavirus crisis in earnest as the initial round of projections warned that millions could perish, setting off the global panic.
By that time, as we’ve reported in the past, China probably had enough of a head start to gobble up all of the PPE and other critical medical supplies in the world, which would help explain the baffling shortages that confronted American consumers during the first weeks of the outbreak, with some claiming that shortages of popular goods like cleaning supplies and toilet paper persist in some places, or regularly reoccur.
Adding even more confusion to the global conversation (not that anybody cares about the coronavirus anymore, now that the progressives who were hysterically decrying the risks of reopening are crowding together in the streets), a WHO scientist last night discussed new research suggesting asymptomatic carriers of the virus – previously believed to be a primary driver of the virus’s spread – actually aren’t all that dangerous. If these findings are confirmed, it would suggest that contact tracing has little value in the late stages of an outbreak, though it could be a game-changer during the early weeks, when successful containment remains possible.
With futures markets pointing toward a lower open in the US, the Washington Post warns that 14 states and Puerto Rico have seen their 7-day average for the number of new cases being reported climb to their highest levels since the outbreak began. Yesterday, we noted the WSJ story highlighting the finding that rural areas with large numbers of people living in the same houses saw outbreaks that were in many cases more severe than more densely populated areas, suggesting transmission between members of the same household remains the primary means of spread, which, if anything, suggests that markets and the general public is underestimating the potential of these outbreaks in more rural states.
Since the start of June, 14 states and Puerto Rico have recorded their highest-ever seven-day average of new coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, according to data tracked by The Washington Post: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Mississippi, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.
If the pandemic’s first wave burned through dense metro hubs such as New York City, Chicago and Detroit, the highest percentages of new cases are coming from places with much smaller populations: Lincoln County, Ore., an area of less than 50,000, has averaged 20 new daily cases; the Bear River Health District in northern Utah has averaged 78 new cases a day in the past week, most of them tied to an outbreak at a meat processing plant in the small town of Hyrum.
The increase of coronavirus cases in counties with fewer than 60,000 people is part of the trend of new infections surging across the rural United States. Health experts worry those areas, already short of resources before the pandemic, will struggle to track new cases with the infrastructure that remains.
The NYT’s coronavirus tracker tool offers a convenient illustration:
What’s more alarming: epidemiologists say any surge in cases tied to the protests likely has yet to emerge.
Yesterday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases surged past 7 million, after the death toll topped 400k over the weekend. Russia, Latin America and now India appear to be the newest hot spots, as cases have started to accelerate as Brazil and Mexico face a difficult reckoning.
Even the FT cheered on Tuesday as the UK reported its smallest excess-death total (a figure the paper has been using as a measure of the ‘total’ COVID-19 deaths) since the final week in March. Meanwhile, HMG has reportedly scrapped plans to return pupils to their classrooms before the beginning of the summer break.
The government is set to drop plans to fully reopen primary schools in England before the summer holiday, in a move welcomed by teachers’ unions that argued the return of all pupils would be unsafe. Education secretary Gavin Williamson is expected on Tuesday to announce that headteachers can choose whether or not to reopen to more year groups than currently outlined. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said during yesterday’s daily briefing that secondary schools in England likely wouldn’t reopen until September “at the earliest.”