As July gave way to August, reports of stabilizing COVID-19 case numbers brought a flash of hope that the pandemic might finally be under control.
However, despite a decline in confirmed COVID-19 cases in more than half of the states in the U.S, the death rate continues to rise.
On Tuesday, August 12, the U.S logged nearly 1,500 coronavirus-related fatalities, its highest number of deaths in a single day since mid-May. So what exactly is happening, and where do we go from here?
Southern and Western States Hit the Hardest
The pandemic is ever-evolving. Through the end of July and into August, the numbers showed COVID-19 hitting southern and western states the hardest. Washington state, California, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and the Carolinas all make the list of states with the highest death rates.
Across the country as a whole, the death rate increased a full 27.1 percent in the last two weeks of July. In the same period, data indicated a 4.1 percent decrease in new cases of COVID-19.
When asked about these new patterns, the White House coronavirus coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, said, “I want to be very clear: What we’re seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread. So everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune.”
Texas Doctors Look to the Future With Apprehension
Texas is currently one of the hardest-hit states in the country. Though the state had hovered around 10 percent positivity rate since the end of June, it has recently spiked. On Wednesday, August 13, the COVID-19 positive rate in Texas reached an all-time high of 24.5 percent, up from Tuesday’s record of 23.92 percent and Monday’s of 20.9 percent.
Even worse, Texas reported 324 new coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday, bumping the state’s total dangerously close to 10,000.
Now doctors are especially concerned about the potential impacts of COVID-19 and the flu hitting hospitals hard this fall.
“Flu seasons stretch our capacity in a normal year, now we are already in a situation where we have COVID occupying a significant number of beds,” explained Dr. James Morrison of Baylor Scott & White. “Resources that are already stretched will be further stretched.”
It’s an unprecedented time for every single American as the situation changes day by day, week by week. Perhaps the death rate will correct itself in the final weeks of August, or perhaps another trend will evolve to take its place. Only time will tell.