This is a case update. Unfortunately, we are experiencing an explosion of new cases in the US, California, and San Diego County this week, continuing the trend that started a few weeks ago. For all of these regions, this week brought record highs for all three regions. California reached approximately 66k active cases, and San Diego County has doubled it’s active caseload to 4,222 in just the past week.
Why is this happening? Probably for multiple reasons. First, as things re-open, some businesses and individuals are not following guidelines for safe reopening. San Diego County had 7 super-spreader events in the last week, 4 at restaurants, and 1 at a private residence. You may have seen a story in the news this week about a bar in Michigan in which 85 college aged people were infected in a single evening. As you might imagine, they were not wearing masks, and were not practicing social distancing. The recent protests and riots almost certainly have had an impact as well.
In my May 12 post, I explained how you can tell if testing is having an impact on confirmed cases by graphing daily tests against daily new confirmed cases. In the last few weeks, the R2 number has risen into the 0.5 range for the US and California. An R2 number of 0.95 “proves” correlation, but a number in the 0.5 range suggests some contribution by increased testing. These graphs suggest that increased testing has contributed some of the new cases numbers, but some of the new cases are simply new infections as well.
There is some good news. That is that if you are careful and follow the below guidelines, you can be reasonably certain you won’t catch COVID:
1) Wear a mask or face covering in public. Avoid places with unmasked people.
2) Keep 6 ft away from others.
3) Avoid indoor gatherings, especially ones in which singing or shouting is likely.
4) Small outdoor gatherings are fine, even without masks, if everyone maintains a distance. Have guests bring their own food.
5) While many restaurants are open for limited indoor seating, I personally am still not comfortable eating indoors at a restaurant. I enjoy eating outdoors, however.there may be some contribution from increased testing, much of the increase is real new cases.
An epidemic is like a brush fire. When it dies down, we can start to be complacent, but diligence is still required. We are experiencing this new burst of cases because we have let our guard down. Hopefully, we can get things back under control soon.
Maybe take a break. After all the troubling news of the past month, a friend of mine complained that he is feeling depressed and not doing well. While I encourage everyone to follow the news and to be engaged with public life, studies show that over consumption of social media can lead to depression and anxiety. If you feel depressed, or your blood pressure is high, or you’ve been ranted to your wife more than she would like (I know someone like that), you may benefit from a news and/or social media fast. Consider taking a day or more off a week to let yourself calm down and get back to normal. In our information age, we can receive all the bad news of the world at all times, and we aren’t designed to carry that burden.
Don’t fear, but be smart.