Covid-19 Deaths Rising

The trend line shifted this week.

While it has been widely reported that Covid-19 cases have been setting daily records in the United States of later, the solace had been that the daily death rates had been steadily declining. Various theories have been floated, including the hope that younger Americans, the likely source of the record-breaking case count, were less likely to die from the disease (which is true) or that testing was just uncovering more cases. Alas, while we started this last week with some of the lowest reported death totals, the numbers have soared at the week closed out.

According to Worldometer, on July 6, the three-day moving average of death was 302 (granted, that was over a holiday weekend, which likely depressed reporting). Yesterday, July 10, the three-day average was 900.

The last four days of this week (the week of July 6th) were 993, 890, 960, and 849. That’s the worst stretch in roughly a month.

Here’s the graph:

Death is, of course, a lagging indicator. States have been in various stages of opening up since late May/early June. It is logical to conclude that we are now seeing, in the death figures, the consequences of policy decisions across the country, as well as the lack of seriousness with which many in the population are treating the pandemic.

An AP headline is to the point: Coronavirus deaths take a long-expected turn for the worse.

The number of deaths per day from the virus had been falling for months, and even remained down as states like Florida and Texas saw explosions in cases and hospitalizations — and reported daily U.S. infections broke records several times in recent days.

Scientists warned it wouldn’t last. A coronavirus death, when it occurs, typically comes several weeks after a person is first infected. And experts predicted states that saw increases in cases and hospitalizations would, at some point, see deaths rise too. Now that’s happening.

[…]

According to an Associated Press analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University, the seven-day rolling average for daily reported deaths in the U.S. has increased from 578 two weeks ago to 664 on July 10 — still well below the heights hit in April. Daily reported deaths increased in 27 states over that time period, but the majority of those states are averaging under 15 new deaths per day. A smaller group of states has been driving the nationwide increase in deaths.

Likewise, WaPo reports: National Coronavirus update: U.S. death toll rises as new infections reach record levels

The daily coronavirus death toll in the United States increased this week after months of decline, as new infections soared to record levels and hospitals in the South and West faced a crush of patients.

More than 4,200 deaths were reported nationally in the past seven days, and experts warn that the trend could continue to get worse. Texas, Arizona and South Carolina have all seen their death toll rise by more than 100 percent in the past four weeks. Four more states — Mississippi, Tennessee, California and Louisiana — have seen at least a 20 percent jump in that time span.

The piece notes that Friday saw a record 67,211 new cases nationwide.

Hospitalizations are on the rise:

Coronavirus-related hospitalizations reached their highest level since early May, with 50,100 patients nationwide, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

In Texas, where roughly 10,000 coronavirus patients were hospitalized and more than 3,000 people have died of the virus, some counties were preparing for a wave of new deaths by requesting refrigerator trucks to store bodies that can’t fit in overflowing morgues.

The situation in Texas had led Governor Abbot to issue a statewide mask order (after having balked at such actions earlier), but many local jurisdictions are rejecting it. For example, Nacogdoches County Sherrif, Jason Bridges stated in a Facebook video “I believe in our constitutional rights, and this is borderline infringing on some of those constitutional rights in my belief.”

To be honest, I am utterly unclear as to what constitutional rights are violated by a mask order. Is “no shoes, no shirt, no service” unconstitutional? What about public decency laws? Is Nacogdoches now a nudist haven?

And since when is it the job of a county sheriff to interpret the constitutional powers of the governor of the state? Indeed, if he really thinks Abbott is acting illegally, he should take him to court.

Beyond that, I would argue that if there is a legal question about the powers of the governor in this matter then the remedy is to be found in either Texas statute, or the state’s constitution, not the nebulous “constitutional rights” that many anti-maskers like to claim.

Ultimately, we are reaping what leadership in the White House, specifically President Trump, has sown. He has downplayed at best and dismissed at worse the significance of the virus. He has not led in any substantive way, not even on the simplest of measure, which would include touting, repeating, underscoring, and leading on CDC guidelines.

How much better would the case counts and death rates be if the President of the United States could have been bothered to support mask-wearing and social distancing? What if the president was engaged in a rational process of listening to public health experts on how to navigate this crisis?

What if we had a unified, bipartisan view on public health? And I don’t mean unanimity as a country, that is impossible, but almost any other president would have found a way to make this into a national effort. George W. Bush was able to get approval ratings in the 90s after 9/11 despite his controversial win in 2000. We were significantly unified because the perception was that we were all under attack. Bush didn’t make terrorism into a Blue state v. Red state issue. It was an American issue.

And the sad, frustrating irony is that Americans as a whole are far, far, more threatened individually by Covid-19 that they ever were from al Qaeda.

I do not know what the exact odds of dying from Covid-19 are in Mississippi of Wyoming, but I can guarantee you that they are higher than the odds of an al Qaeda attack in those locations in 2001.

Trump is currently trying to weaponize the federal government to force school openings and to punish universities for going online. This is all in service of his own re-election because he thinks that if he can force us all back to “normal” then the economy will snap back and he will have a shot at winning a second term. This is, of course, nonsensical since there is no normal with which to return. The virus remains in play, cases are going through the roof, and it appears that death is accelerating its march.

One of the grandest ironies of this current mess is that despite all the challenges, it was the best opportunity Trump had to “finally becomes president” by engaging in a national effort to combat the pandemic together. Instead, he proved once again that he is incapable of governing and is dispositional unfit to occupy the office he currently holds.

Forget partisan preferences, it is simply impossible to dispassionately assess Trump’s performance on this matter in a positive manner.

In the simplest of terms: if the president was actively promoting mask-wearing, to pick a simple mitigation tool, it would make it easier for governors to impose mask-wearing in their states, and therefore for county and municipal leaders to do the same. This, then, would have a ripple effect on businesses and other public-facing entities. It would forestall (but, I understand, not eliminate) county sheriff’s thinking they are constitutional arbiters or people ranting in stores about their rights being violated.

Trump’s handling of this pandemic (indeed, lack thereof) has very much helped fuel cases and, therefore, deaths. This is an incontrovertible truth.

Again, let me share this graph:

Source: WaPo

That is a picture of policy failure that is directly linked to the current occupant of the White House.

And let me conclude on a sobering note note: cases have gotten worse since that graph was created. Worldometer’s seven-day rolling average as of July 10 was 56,639–over twice what is shown in that graph.

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FILED UNDER: COVID-19
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Bill says:

    In other news, Disney World has reopened while Florida has its 250,000th confirmed case of Covid-19.

    What’s wrong with this picture?

    3
  2. Gustopher says:

    And since when is it the job of a county sheriff to interpret the constitutional powers of the governor of the state?

    I believe the Nuremberg Trials showed that following illegal orders is illegal, and generally frowned upon…

    The sheriff is a dangerous moron who is going to be responsible for more death, of course, and wildly misinformed about the constitution.

    In the simplest of terms: if the president was actively promoting mask-wearing, to pick a simple mitigation tool, it would make it easier for governors to impose mask-wearing in their states, and therefore for county and municipal leaders to do the same. This, then, would have a ripple effect on businesses and other public-facing entities.

    Trump’s handling of this pandemic (indeed, lack thereof) has very much helped fuel cases and, therefore, deaths. This is an incontrovertible truth.

    If Trump’s refusal to wear a mask is that it would mess up his makeup, is there a more trivial and venal reason for tens of thousands of people to die?

    There are lots of other reasons for all the deaths other than masks (most relating to the administration’s failures) but with well over a hundred thousand dead, we can assign at least ten thousand to the masks.

    2
  3. mattbernius says:

    The situation in Texas had led Governor Abbot to issue a statewide mask order (after having balked at such actions earlier), but many local jurisdictions are rejecting it. For example, Nacogdoches County Sherrif, Jason Bridges stated in a Facebook video “I believe in our constitutional rights, and this is borderline infringing on some of those constitutional rights in my belief.”

    The fact that Abbot had previously expressly banned localities from issuing masking orders now has localities rejecting his offer as the infection and death toll rises is one of the clearest “sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind” self-owns in recent memory.

    The saving grace in all of this, to the degree there is one, is that the death tolls will hopefully not be as high simply because of significant improvements in treatment (though we are still grappling with what it means to recover from C19 and how to mitigate the long term damage survivors may have).

    10
  4. @Gustopher:

    There are lots of other reasons for all the deaths other than masks (most relating to the administration’s failures) but with well over a hundred thousand dead, we can assign at least ten thousand to the masks.

    Like I said in the post: a president who promoted two behaviors: social distancing and mask-wearing would have made a huge difference.

    And a serious commitment to social distancing might have led to not doing dumb things like opening bars.

    3
  5. @mattbernius:

    The fact that Abbot had previously expressly banned localities from issuing masking orders now has localities rejecting his offer as the infection and death toll rises is one of the clearest “sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind” self-owns in recent memory.

    Yup.

    4
  6. Gustopher says:

    @mattbernius:

    The fact that Abbot had previously expressly banned localities from issuing masking orders now has localities rejecting his offer as the infection and death toll rises is one of the clearest “sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind” self-owns in recent memory.

    Is it really a self-own if other people are the ones paying the majority of the price?

    Covid has been hitting poor minority communities harder than Gov. Abbott, his peers or his supporters.

    5
  7. @Gustopher: Indeed, of course.

  8. EddieInCA says:

    I’m in Salt Lake City, and I’m shocked, still, even with Utah having it’s worst case total to date, how many people, old and young alike, are still walking around and congregating closely without masks. All the businesses, every single one, have a sign “You must wear a face covering to enter”. Yet it’s ignored by a significant number of people.

    At this point, it’s not about not knowing. It’s willful, obstinate, and, in some cases, trolling.

    And the President is making it worse. Daily.

    4
  9. de stijl says:

    We sacrificed our normal lives but our leaders blew it all to hell because they got squirrelly about November.

    Fuck them.

    We’re still in the first wave, ffs.

    I am seriously looking at New Zealand and Iceland. Sometimes this country is so damned aggravating.

    If we’re not even going to try to do the right thing… JFC, get it together folks!

    No offense to Brazil, but we are the United States of America. Hegemon. Best scientific infrastructure. Bright kids the world over want to attend our top universities.

    1
  10. Sleeping Dog says:
  11. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Like I said in the post: a president who promoted two behaviors: social distancing and mask-wearing would have made a huge difference.

    Or even not actively undermining the efforts.

    There’s so much blood on that man’s hands (will he surpass George W. Bush’s record in Iraq? By some estimates he already has) and so many ways he has caused it, it’s hard to identify which blood is from which cause.

    1
  12. DrDaveT says:

    I’m still waiting for a convincing explanation of the extremely strong weekly periodicity in the death numbers, which seems to be universal — every state, every country.

    Look at the chart — it’s +/- 30%, every week, with every day of the week having a different base rate. WTF?

  13. MarkedMan says:

    I wish to heck I believed that the tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths will mean that people in the Trump states will finally run these people out of office, at every level. But it won’t. For centuries the electorates there have made it clear there is only one thing will hold their leaders accountable for: enforcing a class system and making sure those who try to get above themselves are punished harshly. For more than a century the citizens of Mississippi, Alabama, and all the rest have known that their kids remain ignorant in the worst schools in the country, their loved ones die in the most decrepit and poorly funded hospitals, and they come down with cancer and respiratory disease at the highest rates due to the pollution churned into the air, land and water by poorly regulated industries. Of course there are a large number of citizens who care passionately about these issues but year after year, election after election they are outnumbered by people who simply don’t care. Instead that majority look for leaders who will erect and maintain monuments to show the blacks who is in charge, who will make it clear that their state will never defend a queer, and will fight to keep a mosque from being built.

    5
  14. de stijl says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Love a good righteous rant.

    The hard work is making America more inclusive and just for all our neighbors.

    1
  15. Gustopher says:

    @DrDaveT: A lot of administration work 9-5, Monday to Friday. Non-critical work piles up over the weekend, and gets done over the week.

    Reporting deaths and infections is often considered non-critical.

    The labs that process tests also have a weekly schedule.

    1
  16. MarkedMan says:

    @DrDaveT: Many localities don’t staff the business part of morgues, coroners offices, etc during the weekend. Depending on who is keeping the chart you will see a dramatic decline on either Saturday/Sunday, or Sunday/Monday.

  17. CSK says:

    @EddieInCA:
    The global elites are trying to compel the sheeple to wear masks as a means of softening them up for the coming worldwide socialist takeover. All true patriots resist. Only Trump can save us.

    I thought you knew this, Eddie. Sheesh.

    9
  18. de stijl says:

    What is the deal with Sheriffs? This is not a fief. Your word is not law. You are a sworn LEO, not Judge Dredd.

    3
  19. de stijl says:

    @CSK:

    You missed the memo. Soros says compulsory masking is a prelude to marking them with the sign of the Beast.

    (Psst, Hail Cthulu!)

    4
  20. JohnMcC says:

    “And since when is it the business of the county sheriff to interpret the constitutional powers of the governor…?”

    It’s a theme that I’ve run into in several varieties of ‘conservativism’ in the past few years. Seems to be strongly asserted in the “2d Amendment” and militia types and I’ve assumed that it’s a reductio ad absurdum from the 10th A. But a quick google found this:

    “The office of sheriff is unique in that that he is directly responsible to the people of his county, not the government or the courts. Sheriffs are elected not appointed and they have complete authority to reject the acts of any agency of the government if those acts violate the rights of the people. Remember the people are where the founders placed all powers not delegate (sic) to the federal government.

    There is no lawful authority for judges or a court to direct the law enforcement activities of a county sheriff. He’s not part of the judiciary. He holds executive power and can set up a court, empanel a jury and form a posse or militia to protect the rights of those he represents.”

    http://www.stridentconservative.com/sheriffs-have-constitutional-power-and-duty-not-to-enforce-red-flag-laws/

    Those good folks quote Madison and Scalia so it must be so…

    (and apologies in advance if I screwed up the link again…. You know what to do if you actually want to look at such a hot pile)

    2
  21. mattbernius says:

    @Gustopher:

    Is it really a self-own if other people are the ones paying the majority of the price?

    To the degree that this will hurt both Abbot and his party, it’s a self-own.

    That said, you are also correct that there is a profound human cost to this decision (as with so many others) that plays out on the most vulnerable populations. I had intended to call that out in my originial post and forgot to. That was a mistake. Thank you for calling me out on that.

    1
  22. @JohnMcC: Now that you mention it, I have seen some of those “theories” about sheriffs. Ugh.

    1
  23. gVOR08 says:

    @JohnMcC: got here a little ahead of me, but Nacogdoches County Sherrif, Jason Bridges may be a member, or at least adjacent to the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association.

    a political organization of local police officials in the United States who believe in an interpretation of the United States Constitution wherein federal and state government authorities are subordinate to local government authority. In this regard, the CSPOA is an outgrowth of the Patriot movement and has some ideological similarities with the Sovereign Citizen Movement, although they are by no means identical. An article by the Intelligence Report of the Southern Poverty Law Center states that “… the real root of the ‘county supremacy’ movement that has been explicitly embraced by the CSPOA is the Posse Comitatus, a racist and anti-Semitic group of the 1970s and 1980s that also defined the county sheriff as the highest ‘legitimate’ law enforcement authority in the country. . . .” and continues to identify several county sheriffs who are in sympathy with the stated goals of the CSPOA.

    For which see the famous Onion headline.

    1
  24. MarkedMan says:

    @de stijl: Right. And if the governor had issued an edict against wearing a burka, do you think he would have hesitated to enforce it? These strong principles he has are just typical Trumper bull.

    1
  25. de stijl says:

    There was movement in the mid nineties to mid aughts. I would google it, but I lack the proper search terms to do so.

    If the flag in the courtroom had a fringe it was an admiralty flag not a proper US flag so any and all rulings were ipso facto not binding.

    Taxation is not compulsory.

    Odd folk established The Republic Of Dave.

    Hired fancy folk out of the city to write their national anthem (Mr. Show sketch)

    What was that movement called?

    eta: Sheriffs are the paramount and lawful rulers.

  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher: I think you are low balling that number. My feeling is more like 30K or maybe more. Just a feeling based on how things have played out in so many Asian countries where people didn’t even wait to be told to, they just all did it. Of course they did other things that we have utterly failed at (test track and trace) and social distancing.

    Again, it’s just my feeling.

  27. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Sleeping Dog: The response would most likely be:

    What’s that got to do with me? The commissioner is obviously someone with a compromised immune system and besides that not only do I not know anyone who has Covid-19, I don’t even know anyone who knows anyone with it. And none of their friends know anyone who knows anyone either, from what they tell me.

  28. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @de stijl:

    eta: Sheriffs are the paramount and lawful rulers.

    Well, after all, they are the Shire Reeves, and their job is to manage the land and the people.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reeve_(England)

    But in the US, it’s all hat and no cattle.

    1
  29. de stijl says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    A lot of folks don’t know how much US policing is derived from southern slave patrols.

    2
  30. gVOR08 says:

    @de stijl: Including, to a great extent, the Second Amendment.

  31. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Another Sherriff just spoke up… This one in Van Buren County, MI.

    That is the very white racist part of Michigan that went hard GOP because hate is a great way to express their dislike of Detroit.

    From that link:

    The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office will strive to protect its citizens and ensure that the constitutional rights and civil liberties given to every American are protected.

    There it is again: “constitutional rights and civil liberties”

    Is that the new code for what the GOP says after FOX tells them what to say?

    1
  32. An Interested Party says:

    There it is again: “constitutional rights and civil liberties”

    I suppose they don’t realize that they could die or cause the death of others through practicing their “constitutional rights and civil liberties”…I guess such sacrifices have to be made to protect freedom…

  33. de stijl says:

    @An Interested Party:

    I have no problem if people want and actively try to screw up their lives in their own property and homes.

    The commons? Whole different thing.

    Property owned by someone who is not you. Abide by the rules or leave.

    If you believe there is a public accommodation case under Title II of the Civil Rights Act show it.

    Many of the public mask freak outs are performative. They practiced their lines. Rehearsed the body language. Knew they were gonna get videoed. Some blew their thesis by filming themselves like the woman at Target.

    People who own cars are required to have proper insurance. You need state issued ID to get on a plane. You need a credit card to rent a car.

    Demanding that you abide by their rules is not new or foreign. Trump politicized masks and they believe that their performance at Costco will make sheeple aware and rebel.

    It is a cargo cult performance of a protest.