Saturday, July 11, 2020

with updates:
 July 9
July 10
July 11

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. 


P.S. Let us not allow the darkness of the hour to drive us to despair. There is wonder and beauty all around us if we but look for it. I have only to walk in my garden to restore my soul. Even on a cloudy day as today, it never fails to fill me with awe and wonder. Here is one corner of my garden this morning:


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.