“'[Fauci] didn’t want to hang his hat on this, but it looked to him like we’re a week-ish behind New York,’ New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said at his daily press briefing, adding that the projection is generally in line with what New Jersey state officials are expecting.” And that’s just New Jersey.
As of writing this, five states still do not have any stay-at-home orders. Notably, since just March 30th, a staggering twenty states had either partial stay-at-home orders or none at all. A week before that, just 9 did. The response to the COVID-19 epidemic has been slow, botched, and feeble here in the US. I’m afraid we’re going to see catastrophic loss because of that.
But I want to draw your attention to what I think is a timebomb — the South. New England, the Midwest, and the West Coast have some of the best hospitals and healthcare in the country. By contrast, the South — where some of the worst delays in pandemic action took place — has some of the worst healthcare in the country. The combination of a delayed response and poor healthcare will almost certainly be felt in the coming weeks.
On top of this, the South has, generally speaking, the worst health in the country. In addition, obesity in America is most concentrated in the Midwest and South, and doctors are saying that obese coronavirus patients are at a heightened risk of dying. Now, 8 of the 10 coronavirus hotspots are in the south. Taken together, we’re looking at a relatively unprotected populace with some of the worst general health in the nation living in a region with some of the worst healthcare in the nation. I fear a tragedy is pending.
Before I get into the implications of this for the nation at large, I would like to say that if you can, donating to those less fortunate in this time makes a big difference — bigger than usual. You might not agree with the politics of the South, but the people there deserve the same chance at making it through this pandemic as much as anybody else.
The potential impact of COVID-19 in the South is grim. The latest projections of deaths from the virus in the US top out at 240,000, but given everything I’ve just said, I suspect this number will rise. We may see small rural communities fall apart because of the poor economy — if not because of illness. We may see people too afraid to leave the house to vote, which would be a serious blow to a part of the US where there are already significant roadblocks to voting. We may see further disintegration of already dwindling cultures, like the Cajuns of Louisiana, or the Seminoles in Oklahoma and Florida.
My message is this: prepare for bad news ahead. There will be heartbreak. Some parts of the country will be hit much harder than others. Remind others how bad leadership got us here and let these things inform you as to how you vote in November.