Wednesday, July 29, 2020

with updates:
 July 9
July 10
July 11
July 12
July 13
July 18
July 19
July 29

July 8, 2020:
It is Wednesday, 8 July 2020, and time for our weekly review of the COVID-19 pandemic. To put it bluntly, it is time to ring the alarm in Charleston. Let's look at the data in our usual source, Worldometers.

Cases in the world continue to spread. In the last week (July 1-8), 1,367,223 new cases were reported for a total of nearly 12,000,000. This is a rising rate of 13%, the same as the last few weeks. There is no abatement of the spread in the world. However, this is very uneven as some countries are seeing declines and some the opposite. The United States continues to be the exploding epicenter in the world with twice as many cases as the next country, Brazil. On the other hand, most European countries have gained control over their cases. Since the U.S. has virtually no national policy on combating the plague, it is running rampant in America. There is no end in sight.

As for deaths in the world, there were 32,706 in the last week, a 6% rate, and down slightly over the last few weeks. Still, over half a million people have died of the disease in the world. The U.S. has by far the highest number of deaths. Remember all of this has happened in the last six months.

The figures for the U.S. show a rapid spread of the disease, at least in the southern and western parts of the country. Overall, the U.S. counted 369,542 new cases in the last week (July 1-8), for a rising rate of 14%. Both the numbers of new cases and the rate of increase are rising. (June 17-24, +216,007, +10%; June 24-July 1, +303,503, +13%).

While cases are spreading in America out of control, the death rate is actually falling. Last week there were 3,868 deaths, for a rate of 3%. This is a sharp decline from the previous week (June 24-July 1) of 6,647, 5%. The average numbers of deaths during the last week was about 500 per day. This is a significant drop from the height of deaths of 2,000/day several weeks ago. Speculation holds that the rise in new cases and decline in deaths comes perhaps from the spread among young people who are less likely to die of the disease.

Now we arrive at South Carolina. The plague is clearly out of control in the state, particularly in Charleston County. The state added 10,953 new cases last week (July 1-8) for a rising rate of 30%. Note this is more than twice the national rate. SC now lists 47,352 cases. At the first of June, a bit more than a month ago, SC had 12,000 cases. This is a four-fold increase in just over a month. In the last two weeks, the numbers have nearly doubled. Deaths in SC are also spiking. In the last week, the state reported 107 deaths for a total of 846. This is by far the worst week of the pandemic in the state. 

Charleston County is now the hottest spot of the plague in South Carolina. It did not start out that way. The first hot spot was Richland County, until it was overtaken by Greenville Co. No more. Charleston Co. is now listing the most cases in the state: 6,073. To put this in perspective, the leading hot spot in Alabama is Jefferson County (Birmingham). It has a population of 659,000 and 5,461 cases. Charleston Co. has about half the population (350,000) and 6,073 cases. This means COVID-19 has spread twice as fast in Charleston as in the hottest spot in Alabama, a dubious distinction.

For more details on the disease in SC, see the Post and Courier here .

What are the local officials in South Carolina and Charleston doing about the health emergency rapidly unfolding there? If they are doing anything at all, it is not apparent, and certainly not known to me. In fact, looking at the pictures from the Fourth of July weekend, nothing is being done to stop the spread of the disease. If no measures are taken to stop the spread, we can expect COVID-19 to continue to spread quickly across the state, and particularly the lowcountry. It is time to sound the alarm in SC. It is urgent.

Alabama is also seeing rapid spread of the disease. There were 7,740 new cases last week, for a total of 45,785. This is a rising rate of 20%. This is also cause for alarm. In the last month, the number of cases has more than doubled. There is also a high death rate. Last week, 83 people died in AL of the virus, for a total of 1,033. This is a steady rate of the last few weeks. As in SC, nothing is being done in AL to stop the spread of the highly contagious disease. In fact, both states are opening up more and more public places and planning to reopen schools next month.

The bottom line of the day is that COVID-19 is out of control in the United States, particularly in South Carolina and Alabama, indeed in all the lower south and the west. Yet, virtually nothing is being done by the authorities to stop the spread of the disease. While most of the rest of the world has gotten a handle on the COVID, the U.S. and the local states have apparently given up on any attempt to stop the disease. This is a national shame and disgrace. We the people of the United States should not accept this state of affairs. We should expect, and demand, more of our leadership. There is no time to waste.

I wish I had some good new to offer today, but I have not. As I see it, this is the time to sound the alarm. A few more weeks of this and we will see vastly worse conditions in our communities. Now is the time to act. For instance, now is the time to prepare the schools to return children but under the utmost of protection.

There are some things that we as individuals can do to protect ourselves. Anyone over the age of 60 and/or with underlying immune deficiencies should stay at home as much as possible. I am in that category. I go out in public only for necessities. When I took a trip recently to visit family in MS, I splurged for a private room on the train. The people in my household go to the grocery store once a week and other public places only by necessity. We always wear mask and gloves when in public. When help comes into our house, we require mask and gloves. The Episcopal churches of Alabama are still closed. We are awaiting word from the bishop on what to do after July 15 [News flash---Bp Sloan just announced churches will remain closed until at least 1 August.]. All of this is not easy. We miss our friends and our freedom greatly.

Finally, remember we are here for the living of this hour, as frightening and worrisome as it is. We are here for a reason. Let us honor it. Peace.

UPDATE. July 9, 2020:

As of the data early today, South Carolina added 1,557 cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours. The total of cases in SC is now 48,909. Also, in the one day, 37 people died of the disease in the state bringing the mortality up to 884. Charleston County continues to surge. It added 264 new cases in one day to lead the state, with 6,337 cases. These figures show that the disease is continuing to spread more rapidly in SC, particularly in Charleston than in most parts of the U.S. At the present rate of spread, SC will see twice as many cases in a month.

UPDATE. July 10, 2020:

In the last 24 hours, SC added 1,782 new cases of COVID-19, for a total this morning of 50,691 in the state. Number of deaths is now 905. Charleston County continues to spike, and to lead the state in the infection rate. There were 362 new cases in the last day, for a total now of 6,699 in the county. Clearly, the disease is spreading quickly in South Carolina, particularly in the Charleston area (Jl 8=6,077; Jl 9=6,337; Jl 10=6,699). If the local authorities are doing anything about this, it is unknown to me.

SC now has the fourth worst outbreak of COVID-19 per-capita  of any place in the world. See this article for a sobering view of the pandemic in SC.

UPDATE. July 11, 2020:

In the last 24 hours, SC added 1,728 new cases of COVID-19, for a total this morning of 52,419. The number of deaths in SC is now 929. Charleston County continues to spiral upwards, adding 262 new cases in the last day, bringing the total of cases in the county to 6,961. In the last four days, the county has seen a 15% rise in reported cases (the state rise was 11%). At this rate, the number of cases in Charleston Co. will double in the next two weeks. The true number of cases is probably much higher. The state department of health estimates the actual case number in the county as 42,754. See their web site here for details on SC counties and ZIP codes. 

SC has one of the fastest moving rates of infections in the country, indeed in the world. The disease is out of control in the state. The worst of this is in the lowcountry. This situation is only going to get worse. National and local responses to this crisis are chaotic and obviously completely ineffective. Nothing is being done to stop the spread of this highly infectious and deadly disease. We are on our own. As for me, I wear face mask and gloves when I have to go out in public and I stay as far away from other people as possible. What else can we do? Our official institutions are failing us. This is a national humiliation.

UPDATE. July 12, 2020:

In the last 24 hours, SC reported 2,280 new cases of COVID-19, for a total this morning of 54,699. The number of deaths in the state is now 951, adding 22 in the last day. Charleston County continues to spiral upwards, adding 308 cases in the last day, bringing the total of cases in the county to 7,269. In the last five days, the county has seen a 20% rise in reported cases (the state rise was 16%). The state department of health estimates the actual number of cases in the county as 44,652. At the present rate of infection, cases of COVID-19 will double in Charleston Co. within the next 30 days.

South Carolina continues to be an epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S. and the world as it has been for the past couple of weeks. Meanwhile, virtually nothing is being done by the authorities to stop the spread of this disease in the state.

UPDATE. July 13, 2020:

In the last 24 hours, SC reported 1,949 new cases of COVID-19, for a total this morning of 56,648. The number of deaths in the state is now 961, adding 10 in the last day. Charleston County added 283 new cases in the last day, bringing the total of cases in the county to 7,552. The state health department estimates the actual number of cases in the county as 46,395.

Today's numbers show a slight improvement in the spread of the disease in the state and Charleston County. However, these places remain unusually active for the spread of the disease.

UPDATE. July 18, 2020:

As of this morning, SC is reporting 65,857 cases of COVID-19. In the five days since July 13, this is an increase of 9,209 cases, +16%. The state continues to hit daily highs for both new cases and deaths. See the statistics in the Post and Courier here . Charleston County added 1,414 new cases in the last five days, bringing its total case count to 8,966. This is a 19% increase. Charleston Co. continues to be the epicenter of the disease in the state although Horry County is not far behind at 6,501 cases.

The White House coronavirus task force has declared SC to be in the "Red Zone" for the fastest spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. SC is one of 11 states with the highest per capita numbers of the disease. The task force recommended the Red Zone states roll back re-openings. 

Meanwhile, the SC governor called for the full reopening of schools in a few weeks. In response, bishops of six major denominations in SC have publicly opposed this. One was Bishop Andrew Waldo, of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper SC. Find an article about this here . This is important not just for the subject of the schools but also for community leaders to show some leadership in this time of crisis. The political officials have abdicated their responsibility to provide for the welfare of the citizens. They are doing almost nothing to stop the spread of this highly contagious disease. In fact, some of them (as gov. of GA) have politicized the virus response and are actively opposing other officials who are trying to show leadership. Therefore, it is necessary for non-political officers to fill the vacuum for the sake of society as a whole. Let's hope we hear more from the bishops of SC.

Bottom line---COVID-19 is out of control in SC and there is no sign of this changing in the foreseeable future.

Let us not give in to the darkness of despair in this unique time of fear and foreboding. Let us look for the light of God's presence all around us. We are here for a reason. We are here for the living of this hour. Peace.

UPDATE. July 19, 2020.

The pandemic numbers continue to spiral upwards. As of this morning, and according to Worldometers, the United States is reporting 3,833,715 cases and 142,881 deaths. South Carolina is now listing 65,857, a rise of 1,755 in one day. On the first day of this month, SC reported 47,352 cases. In the two and a half weeks since July 1, there were 18,505 new cases, a rise of 39%. SC is now reporting 1,135 deaths, up from 846 on July 1. The most alarming news of all is that SCDHEC, the state health department, is officially estimating the actual number of cases in SC at 481,421, or about 10% of the population of the state. If so, one in ten South Carolinians today has the coronavirus.

Charleston County continues to climb although not as fast. This morning Charleston Co. is reporting 9,093 cases and 86 deaths. This is an increase of 127 cases in one day. The SC health department estimates the actual number of cases in the county to be 64,950. With a population of 411,406, this means 16% of the people of Charleston Co. have the virus. The state is 10%, the county is 16%. Cases in Horry County also continue to rise, now at 6,563.

Of course, SC is not alone in the "Red Zone" of the pandemic. Florida is off the charts and in public health emergency mode, particularly in Miami-Dade. There are 337,569 reported cases in FL. Miami-Dade County is reporting 77,867 cases. Numbers in Georgia are nearly as bad. Alabama, another Red Zone state is now reporting 65,160 cases. On the first day of this month, AL listed 45,785 cases. In two and a half weeks,  cases increased by nearly 20,000, or 42% (SC was 39%). Clearly the southeastern states are experiencing a pandemic out of control.

These numbers are hard to take, but it is important that we know the truth. We individual citizens are really on our own in the face of this highly contagious and rapidly spreading deadly disease. Our political leadership is missing in action, in my opinion incompetent (they cannot even decide if we should wear face coverings!). In fact, some of the measures they are taking are actually making matters worse. It is a national humiliation that the richest and most powerful nation-state on the face of the earth is helpless in the face of a germ so small it is barely discernible. Many other nations have brought this virus under control, but not ours. We Americans, particularly we southerners, are in for a rough next few months at the very least.

UPDATE. July 29, 2020.

The coronavirus continues to spread although there are indications the rate is lessening in South Carolina. 

According to Worldometers, there are now 16,924,479 reported cases in the world, and 664,226 deaths. The United States is now listing 4,498,687 cases and 152,358 deaths. This is an increase of 664,972 cases in America, or +17% in the last ten days (July 19-29). U.S. deaths increased from 142,881 to 152,358 in the last ten days, a rise of 9,477 or +7%. This is a mortality rate of app. 1,000/day. At this rate, 200,000 Americans will be dead of COVID-19 within the next two months.

As for South Carolina, the state listed 48,909 cases twenty days ago (July 9), and 65,857 cases ten days ago (July 19). As of this morning it is reporting 84,109 cases, a rise of 72% in 20 days and a rise of 28% in 10 days. In death figures, SC jumped from 884 on July 9 to 1,135 on July 19 and 1,565 on July 29. This is a 77% increase in 20 days and 38% in 10 days. Clearly, the plague is spreading quickly in SC although the rate of increase is declining.

This is also true of Charleston County. Cases there jumped from 6,337 twenty days ago, to 9,093 ten days ago, to 10,906 today. This is 72% rise in the last 20 days and 20% in the last 10 days. The raw numbers are increasing but the rate of increase is falling. If there is a glimmer of "good news," in Charleston, this is it. However, the state health department estimates the likely number of cases in the county at 77,900, or 19% of the population. If this is true, app. one in five residents of Charleston County has the coronavirus. This is the "bad news" of the day.

Horry County is now the third "hottest spot" in SC, with 7,678 cases (or estimated 54,843) and 112 deaths. Numbers there continue to soar.

Alabama continues along the same general trajectory as SC. The state is now reporting 82,366 known cases, a rise of 17,206 in the last 10 days, or 26%. AL is now listing 1,491 dead, 356 more than 10 days ago, or 31%.

The official response to the pandemic continues to be a national humiliation. The virus is spreading like wildfire as people are dying by the thousands all around us, yet our federal and local authorities are unable or unwilling to meet the crisis. Many other countries of the world have gained control over this disease. Not the U.S. So, we Americans are really on our own in the face of this national health emergency. 

This is a hard time. We have crisis on crisis: the pandemic, economic, political, and social. This is a dark moment in American history, arguably the darkest since the Second World War. Anxiety, fear, and depression abound in our lives. We are at least five months off before a vaccine appears. Matters are going to get worse, much worse, as the days turn into weeks and months evolve in the year 2020. 

In this terrible time, it is easy to fall into despair and lose hope. We should not do that. I am a historian and a Christian, thus, by definition, on both counts, an optimist, although a realist about how difficult times can be. History does not move in a straight line. It moves in wild swings and the down periods can be terribly destructive and challenging. We are in a down period. This means history will swing into an up period. It is just a matter of time. That is the problem. We do not know the future. This is not given to humans. We do know faith, we do know history. Both tell us to soldier on faithfully and confidently into the future regardless of what it may bring our way. There will be a better day.