The pandemic isn’t over just because you’re over it. Far from being over, the pandemic has actually never been more on in the U.S., with Thursday’s 77,640 reported new cases setting a new single-day record. This brings the total number of COVID cases in the U.S. to around 8.5 million, with 224, 280 deaths. On Thursday alone, 921 people died of coronavirus-related causes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The previous single-day record was set on July 29, with 75,723 new cases.
The spike in caseloads is happening in the midwest, where the virus has surged in recent weeks in places like Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin. Dr. Jay Butler, deputy director for infectious diseases at the CDC, told NBC News that he was worried that the new wave was being driven by smaller, intimate gatherings and just the public’s general growing disinterest with following social distancing guidelines. “We get tired of wearing masks, but it continues to be as important as it’s ever been,” he said.
Science backs Butler up on this. A new study from Carnegie Mellon’s CovidCast found that states with higher rates of mask use are reporting fewer cases. As you can see in the graph below, the further you go to the right (i.e., the higher the percentage of the public regularly wearing a mask), the fewer observed COVID-19 symptoms you see. That is what folks in the research business call correlation.
So, mask up, keep your distance and remember that the life you save very likely won’t be your own. But it’s still a life.