We were so close. At the end of June we dared to be optimistic when our weekly case counts were the lowest in 18 months. But our chance of ending the pandemic was doomed by the Delta variant and unmasked unvaccinated spreaders, and now we’re back at weekly caseloads as high as they were in February: more than 600,000 new US cases this week, a 48% increase over last week. We’re well on our way to another exponential growth in the spread.
We were so close. The hope of in-person lectures and some normalcy for the fall semester has been snuffed and we must all be prepared to go back online again. While cases are surging, my state legislature is challenging our campus-wide mask mandate. If we don’t cower to their demands, they’ll take our funding. Interesting balance: trade a few lives to keep our funding–all based on a loose interpretation of a new “law.” The whole thing makes my heart hurt.
Thinking about numbers, even scary ones, calms me down a bit. It’s data. It’s facts. Nothing emotional here. One simple trend that I track is how long between millions.
For example it took the US 15 weeks at the beginning of the pandemic to reach 1 million cases; 7 more weeks to reach 2 million, then in only 3 more weeks we got to 3 million.
We roughly maintained a 2-3 week rate for each next million up to 9 million.
Then, for 14 consecutive weeks we kept up 1-2 million cases each week to get us to 27 million, easily maintaining our lead over every other country on the planet both in cases and deaths.
Then, in February 2021 we took almost 2 weeks to jump from 27 to 28 million, and then 12 more weeks to add the next 5 “millions” while we were all scrambling for vaccines.
The beautiful lull lasted 8 weeks to add the next million to get to 34 million.
Then delta kicked in; we added another million in just 3 weeks to reach 35 million this week. By simple models, we’ll reach 36 million by mid-August and then start stacking millions per week again just like last winter. Another tidal wave.
And we were so close. We have the vaccine. We have masks. We have brains. Use them.
To cheer myself up, after I finished drafting my course syllabi, I played the piano and I made peach cobbler to soothe my soul. Here’s the piano and here are pictures of the cobbler in progress and complete. The music was lovely and the cobbler was delicious. I hope you find ways to take good care of yourself through the next months.
Plopped on some ice cream, closed my eyes, and breathed. I used this recipe by Lauren Allen: Old Fashioned Peach Cobbler – Tastes Better From Scratch