In a surprising turnaround for the pandemic, California has surged ahead of New York for the epicenter of the most COVID-19 cases. The state is now reporting a total confirmed case count of 409,000, the highest in the nation. This is largely unsurprising, however, given the population concentration in the massive West Coast state.
Cities like LA, San Diego and San Francisco are some of the most populous in the world. It’s no surprise, then, that cases have soared across California as public health officials struggle to contain the virus. Soaring case numbers have backed up testing efforts, making contact tracing essentially a moot point. In many places around the US, the virus is spreading like a wildfire.
New York posted huge numbers early in the pandemic. Cases in the Empire State surged throughout March and April, and fatalities there have been among the highest in the world. New York alone has over 25,000 COVID-19 deaths. Meanwhile, California, which started with few cases but has caught up rapidly, has seen much lower death rates. The reasoning for this is likely complicated, but there are a few theories.
The first theory is that people are now more prepared for the virus. When symptoms manifest, people are quicker to visit the hospital and undergo treatment. Therapeutics like remdesivir can make the virus significantly less deadly. A second theory holds that the virus may be mutating to become less deadly, in order to be more transmissible. After all, a successful virus is one that spreads, and dead people don’t go to public areas.
A third theory holds that the virus may be running into something resembling herd immunity. This suggestion holds that enough people may have already been sickened by COVID-19 that they are beginning to show antibodies and T cells for the virus. This could be blunting the virus’ ability to fatally sicken as many people.
The summer of 2020 will likely be known as The Lost Summer, assuming the pandemic is isolated to just this year. While many in California would normally be cruising the coast in a Horizon RV right about now, instead, people are confined to their homes. Movie theaters and amusement parks are closed. Beaches are hardly showing any visitors.
The virus has had a huge impact on the country. Meanwhile, health experts are warning, without major changes across the nation, COVID could become endemic to the US. That’s right: the coronavirus might just be part of life going forward. Fingers crossed this pandemic is nothing but a memory in short order.