COVID-19 infections spent weeks in decline before slowly plateauing in early March. Weeks later, the numbers are up–this time fueled by spring breakers and states prematurely lifting COVID-19 restrictions, like mask mandates.
The Big Picture
An update on the number of cases and deaths from the coronavirus: As of Monday, March 29th, the United States has over 30 million cases and 546,000 deaths from the coronavirus. North Dakota, South Dakota, and Rhode Island still remain the states with the highest case rate (cases per 100,000 people). Furthermore, California, Texas, and Florida are still the states with the highest total cases.
To date, around 73% of seniors and over 1 in 3 adults have received at least one vaccine dose. The Biden administration has pledged to make all adults eligible for the vaccine by May 1st, increasing hopes that herd immunity can come quickly. However, the positive outlook on vaccine distribution is coupled with a spike in cases across many states. Both the government and healthcare officials call on states to bring back their mask mandates and not rush the reopening of businesses. “We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope, but right now I’m scared,” states CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
The Fight on Mask Mandates
In the past few weeks, we have seen a significant increase in the number of states lifting mask mandates. One of the first states to do so was Texas. Two weeks after this decision, CNN looked into the effects this is having on businesses. Still, some small businesses have chosen to enforce their own mask requirements, causing backlash. Angry customers make threatening phone calls and refuse to wear masks in stores, explain business owners in Texas. “It’s a tough situation, but we have to stand our ground,” said Wayne LaComb, the co-owner of a restaurant in Denton, Texas. His testimony and similar sentiments from other owners demonstrate the continued polarization mask mandates have caused in this country.
Still, without COVID-19 restrictions in place, like social distancing and mask mandates, and variants, like the B.1.1.7. variant first detected in England, we risk another surge of hospitalizations at a time in which healthcare workers continue to report PPE shortages.