Think this is far-fetched? Think again…
Some experts are predicting that surges in COVID-19 could spark a new wave of stay-at-home orders in the states that have reopened or partially reopened following their initial pandemic-triggered lockdowns.
While some governors may resist calls to shut down their economies, others will likely be more susceptible to persuasion despite the political pressure to revive the economy as quickly and responsibly as possible.
Think this is far-fetched? Think again. The entire country of Lebanon has locked down for a second time.
Here are the states that may be affected if the worst-case scenario comes to fruition:
A White House Coronavirus Task Force report dated May 7 documented a significant spike in cases in Amarillo, Texas (population: 190,695).
While statistics show that the growth rate of the virus has plateaued for the time being in Texas and a plurality of states, spiking infection rates in multiple cities and counties in America’s heartland suggest the pandemic has moved beyond America’s coastal cities.
Texas’ Dallas County (population: 2.6 million) and Fort Bend County (population: 811,688) are on the White House Coronavirus Task Force’s “locations to watch list,” having seen a 116.8 percent and 64.8 percent increase in their numbers of recorded cases, respectively.
Dr. Mark Escott, a Texas health official, told the Austin City Council that “the people who are getting sick right now are generally people who are working” and that the frequency of workers contracting COVID-19 will increase as more liberty-minded governors attempt to jumpstart their economies.
While Republican Gov. Gregg Abbott is committed to making sure the cure isn’t worse than the disease, liberal localities like Austin could reimplement lockdown orders at the county level.
First, the good news: the number of new cases is decreasing in Kentucky. The bad news? The White House Coronavirus Task Force’s data and analytics unit determined Central City, Kentucky, has seen a 650 percent surge in coronavirus infection rates.
While the spike in Central City can probably be attributed to an outbreak at Green River Correctional Complex, such reports may be enough to get Gov. Andy Beshear (D) to reverse course after relaxing his restrictions.
Other reports may influence Kentucky’s chief executive, too. Preliminary modeling from the University of Louisville on behalf of Jefferson County (population: 766,757) states that if the post-lockdown contact rate between Kentucky residents doubles, “a second surge will be inevitable, even if we perfectly identify and isolate those with the virus.”
Whether or not that comes true remains to be seen. Models have been wrong many times before. However, that point becomes decidedly moot if Beshear and others decide to lockdown their states again.
A cadre of scientists from Harvard, MIT and Georgia Tech published a revealing state-by-state coronavirus simulator, which shows under minimal restrictions following Gov. Brian Kemp’s lifted lockdown orders, COVID-19 could potentially kill 20,000 Georgians by August 30.
For his part, Kemp is confident in his reopening strategy — unlike numerous Democrats. On May 13, he held a press conference extending the closure of bars, updating guidelines for restaurants and laying out a path for summer camps to open provided they meet certain guidelines. Kemp also strongly urged residents to wear face masks.
The numbers show that new cases are currently decreasing in Georgia, and Kemp is determined to keep it that way, telling reporters, “We are just in a good place and we want to keep these numbers moving in the right direction.”
The governor’s office has not responded to inquiries about whether or not he would shutter his state again should cases increase (as is happening in Virginia, Arkansas, South Dakota, Maine and Montana).
Responding to the Daily Beast, Dr. Andreas Handel, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Georgia, said: “If we see a consistent trend of increasing new daily cases for a week or at most two weeks, another shutdown or other restrictions are needed.”
Handel may be the kind of expert who attempts to persuade Kemp in the coming days and weeks.