• Sat. Oct 31st, 2020

Coronavirus Briefing: A Summer of Lost Opportunity

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Credit…The New York Times

As summer comes to a close, the United States is averaging about 40,000 new cases a day, down from a horrifying peak in late July. But in many ways, the country is worse off now than at the beginning of the season: On Memorial Day weekend, the United States averaged 22,000 cases a day.

The Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays bookend a summer of lost opportunity. The United States failed to stamp out the virus before the fall, which is expected to bring new dangers with the start of the school year, flu season and cooler weather that will drive people indoors.

To make matters more complex, our colleague, Mitch Smith, who tracks the virus, told us that the current state of epidemic is “a tale of two countries.”

Some states that had devastating outbreaks this summer, like Georgia, Florida, Arizona, Texas and California, have all seen sustained declines. Arizona, for example, which once averaged 3,800 new cases a day, now has about 500 cases a day after it a fresh round of restrictions. And parts of the South and the Great Plains are now are seeing cases rise, especially in Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota.

“These are places that previously hadn’t been hit as hard on a per-capita basis,” Mitch told us. “In all three of those states, significant amounts of the new cases can be traced to the outbreaks on college campuses. But some rural areas, where there’s not an obvious college connection, are also having major upticks.”

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Updated 2020-09-05T01:17:55.868Z

There are, to be sure, some promising signs: Fewer Americans are sick, hospitalized and dying from the coronavirus compared with the earlier peaks this summer. But the number of deaths are still averaging about 850 a day, Mitch said. While deaths from the virus are declining, the decline is not the steep downward trend that many experts had hoped for.

“We’re in a slightly better place than we were a month or so ago,” Mitch said. “But we’re still in a very, very concerning spot. Cases are trending upward in parts of the country, we continue to see large numbers of cases and deaths and there are a lot of unknowns this fall.”


Entertainment is slowly coming back. Sitting elbow-to-elbow in a crowded space may still be dicey, but there’s more culture to consume now than there was earlier during the pandemic. Here are some of the things happening across the United States:


Here’s a roundup of restrictions in all 50 states.


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My daughter and I miss the drive home from school where she would debrief about what happened that day. We’re now taking a drive at 3 p.m. every school day to give us special time together to recreate that experience. It’s nice to have the daily routine and be out of the house together in a mask-free, safe environment.

— Heather Bohr Unterseher, Pasadena, Calif.

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