Manic Mondays: Your Weekly Guide For Living In The COVID Economy
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Last week we reported that cases were falling, slowly but surely. We might have spoken a little soon. While New York seems to be coming back to life, other states aren't quite the same.
The Shift In Focus
As New York City on Monday started allowing office workers to return to work in its broadest reopening yet, just a day earlier more than two dozen states reported surges in coronavirus cases as the country prepares for a possible second wave.
A White House adviser told CNN that the Trump administration is preparing for a possible second wave in the novel coronavirus pandemic in the fall, as 29 states and U.S. territories reported an increase in their seven-day average of new reported cases after many lifted restrictions in recent weeks.
The World Health Organization on Sunday announced 183,020 new confirmed cases within the past 24 hours, marking the highest daily rise since the pandemic began.
As of late Sunday, the United States has reported at least 2,270,000 cases and 118,000 deaths.
New York City entered Phase 2 of reopening Monday, allowing office workers to return to work for the first time since March. This phase also allows reopening of outdoor dining, hair salons, barbershops, real estate firms and some in-store shopping.
Offices must limit their maximum capacity and ensure distance between workers. Mayor Bill de Blasio estimated that up to 300,000 people would return to their workplaces this week.
The positive test rate in the city for coronavirus is around 1%, a huge drop from about 60% in April. Still, many companies have decided not to bring workers back for months.
‘Pivotal Week’ For Spiking States
Texas, Florida and other states with coronavirus spikes are heading into a “pivotal week” that might determine whether “they’re tipping over into exponential growth or not,” former FDA chief Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Monday.
States in the American South and West have seen a drastic rise in cases over the past few weeks as areas have reopened and people move about more freely.
In Florida, the percentage of people testing positive for the virus has risen from about 4.2% on June 7 to more than 8% on June 14, according to the most recent data available from the Florida Department of Health.
A similar rise has happened in Arizona, which has been reporting more than 2,000 new cases per day for about a week. The statistics to watch this week will be the doubling rate of the outbreaks in such states, Gottlieb said.
“That’s going to be a curve that’s starting to look like exponential growth, the doubling time coming down to something about a week or less,” he said. “Right now, the doubling time is about 10 days in some of these places, so it’s been coming down.”
Deaths from Covid-19 don’t appear to be rising with the number of confirmed cases, Gottlieb said. But that could be because of the lag time it takes for infected people to fall ill, become hospitalized and then die.
States with the worst outbreaks might have to start closing businesses again, he said, with businesses such as bars where people are disregarding the precautions could be closed to limit the spread of the virus.
Most Colleges Plan In-Person Classes
Two-thirds of colleges are planning to welcome back students in person in the fall, while only 7% are planning to hold classes only online, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, which is tracking more than 860 institutions’ plans.
Many other colleges haven’t made a decision yet, according to a USA Today story.
Michigan State, for example, plans to hold about half of its classes entirely online. It will have a hybrid format for other classes, with students doing some course work online and some in person, or in larger classrooms on campus. Students who can’t return in person will be given an online curriculum.
Students on campus will be asked to wear masks in public spaces, follow “directional flow” in certain hallways, and self-isolate if exposed to the virus. Dormitory occupancy rates are being lowered.
The California State University system, the largest public university system in the country, and many universities in the University of California system plan to offer most of their fall classes online.
Some CSU classes will still be taught in person if they depend on specialized equipment, such as laboratories for chemistry experiments. At UCLA, no more than 20% of classes will be taught in-person.
Some universities are opening campuses but changing how students attend class. Syracuse University plans to have an alternating in-person schedule for the fall term. Half of all students will attend a class in-person one day, with the other half following along virtually. The students will swap spots on alternate days.
Stanford University plans to start its fall term earlier and end it before Thanksgiving to avoid the expected re-emergency of coronavirus in late fall. Stanford will allow only half of undergraduates back to campus each quarter.