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The Coronavirus Will Define the Next 4 Years

The Coronavirus Will Define the Next 4 Years

The Coronavirus Surge That Will Define the Next 4 Years
While the nation deals with anything coronavirus related fatigue there’s plenty of data suggesting that things are only going to get worse before they get any better.

Research published by The Atlantic as part of their COVID Tracking Project recently announced that the United States had its third-highest single day total of coronavirus cases ever, with 73,103 Americans being diagnosed with novel coronavirus on the 22nd of October 2020.

Nationwide-COVID-19-Metrics-by-Week

About 1 in every 1,000 Americans have already tested positive for the virus, and 2 in every 100,000 have lost their lives to this disease. Thankfully, fatality rates are plunging across the board – not just in the United States but around the world as well – but scientists believe that we are going to be dealing with this virus or longer than anticipated originally.

There’s already talk of a “Third Surge” poised to sweep around the world, with some believing that it has already started in Europe and parts of South America.

The United States has been lucky enough to avoid a “second wave” according to some, but there are scientists that believe we are already towards the end of the second surge and about to go through the third.

These scientists believe that the proliferation of the virus is what makes it so difficult to get a handle on how bad things really are. No longer are virus cases limited to major urban communities and metropolitan areas, where we can see just how quickly the virus moves through those closely packed parts of our country.

No, today the virus can be found everywhere across the American landscape – from the smallest rural farms to the most affluent of suburbs and to the epicenter of some of our greatest cities, and everywhere in between.

More and more Americans are being diagnosed with COVID 19 than ever before, but the dispersal of these cases across the country may make it look less impactful than it actually is.

In fact, according to the US CDC we are now seeing 60,000 new cases of COVID 19 being reported on a day-to-day basis (on average).

These are the kinds of numbers we only saw during July and early August, numbers that started to taper off until around the middle of September. That’s when cases began to spike again – swelling by more than 73% – with American hospitalization rates with COVID 19 increasing by 40% or more throughout that same stretch of time.

There are experts in the medical community suggesting that this “surge” in new coronavirus cases has more to do with rapid testing protocols and more testing being done than ever before, but others are not so sure.

America does lead the charge when it comes to the amount of testing that we do, but the hospitalization rates are still continuing to climb – and that’s anything but a promising data point.

Over the next two weeks (in the lead up to the election) we’re likely to see cases continue to spike, with hundreds of Americans finding out that they are living with the virus.

How Are We Doing Now?
New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and California certainly have some of the highest death tolls from the coronavirus they are beginning to trend downwards while other states are starting to see cases tick upwards. The number of people that have been hospitalized with the coronavirus in North Dakota, Montana, and Wisconsin has tripled since late August, and there’s been a doubling of cases in Utah, Indiana, Ohio, and South Dakota.

COVID-19 Hospitalized

The United States across the board (aside from just nine individual states) are starting to see their coronavirus case numbers shoot through the roof. This would belie the fact that the virus is far more widespread than expected, far less contained than anticipated, and much harder to explain than the initial few waves.

Thankfully though, we are learning that the virus is significantly less deadly than initially expected. While it feels like a lifetime ago, it’s important to remember that experts (including Dr. Anthony Fauci) suggested that we could lose north of 2.5 million Americans to the coronavirus as late as March 2020. Today we know that 200,000+ Americans have lost their lives to the virus which is an absolute tragedy, but that’s orders of magnitude less than what was initially believed to be our ultimate fate.

We now know that while case numbers climb alongside hospitalizations the rate is significantly lower than it was when the virus first was detected in the early part of 2020. We also know that those hospitalized with the coronavirus are far less likely to die thanks to major initiatives by the federal government and state officials to improve COVID 19 responses, to invest in ventilators, and to treat those with pre-existing conditions that could make COVID 19 even deadlier than it is on its own.

Unfortunately, we still do not fully understand what the long-term ramifications of contracting this novel coronavirus are – if only because it is a novel coronavirus and we’ve never had to deal with it before.

The Four Years Are Uncertain If there’s one thing we know about the next four years ahead it’s that we should expect the unexpected. Right now, the coronavirus is absolutely tearing through rural America – including parts of North and South Dakota which previously had dealt with almost no real coronavirus issues (especially compared to the rest of the United States).

Today, though, one in every 1000 residents of both North and South Dakota have been diagnosed with COVID 19. Though the populations of both the states are significantly smaller than most other states throughout the country, that’s a per capita rate of infection that doubles what New York was during the springtime.

COVID-19 Regional Daily Cases

To put that in perspective, if you split New York state into its own country it would have been the eighth deadliest nation on the planet when it came to coronavirus during the spring.

Things aren’t that dire in North or South Dakota as of right now (again, infection rates are up but deaths are way down) but hospitalizations are increasing. Overall hospitalizations in North Dakota (definitely be harder hit of the two states) have tripled in October alone. Contact tracing and rapid testing is more challenging to do effectively in the rural parts of our nation.

This is making it very difficult to get a handle on how things are moving across the country. We are no longer seeing the localized spikes that seemingly shoot right out of the roof in major metro areas and urban centers, but are instead seeing a slower creep of infection cases across the country that is difficult for experts to get a handle on. Worse, this shift and change in a way that the virus behaves is a challenge for experts to wrap their minds around.

The novelty of this coronavirus is not lost on these professionals. Every time they feel that they get a handle on how the virus behaves, how it spreads, and what kind of impact it has the body another curve ball is thrown into the mix in the deck is reshuffled from top to bottom.

As the President as mentioned a number of times already, though, vaccines and therapeutics are already going through the FDA approval process.

Some believe we could have these coronavirus solutions available as early as January 2021, but it’s not hard to see those as extremely optimistic predictions. Others believe that the vaccines and therapeutics are only going to be available in limited dosages by the beginning of next year, and that’s far more likely that it will be until the middle of the summer (if not even later) that most people have an opportunity to take advantage of these coronavirus solutions.

Even after the vaccines and therapeutics have been released, though, we still have to figure out what the lasting and long-term effects are going to be of the coronavirus.

As highlighted above, it’s impossible to know exactly what (if anything) this disease is going to do to our bodies over time. We’re starting to see some respiratory damage, damage to the lungs, and even damage to the heart in certain cases – but other people (including elderly people) have absolutely no real damage whatsoever.

COVID 19 has already fundamentally changed so much about the way we go about our lives and it’s unlikely that this is going to change over the next four years.

It’s going to take all of us working together to build our own “New Normal”. And while we all hope that we are able to get back to some semblance of our regular lives as quickly as possible it’s important to stay vigilant – especially over the next couple of years.

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