At least 432,000 people have been infected and more than 14,000 have died from COVID-19 in the U.S. Unfortunately, the true numbers of cases and deaths are probably even higher, related to the fact that testing has been extremely limited. However, there is some good news in that policies focusing on social distancing do seem to be having some benefit in the hardest-hit areas of the country. Earlier this week, the governors of New York, New Jersey, and Louisiana—three epicenters of the pandemic in the U.S.—pointed out that rates of infection, hospitalization, and intensive care admissions were slowing down. Although none of those areas have hit the peak of the COVID outbreak, this does indicate that social distancing may be helping to “flatten the curve.”
That said, all of the governors also emphasized that these trends should not make anyone complacent. None of these areas, and in fact most other areas of the country, have yet to hit the peak of COVID infections, and loosening any of the precautions taken so far could result in an increase in cases and deaths. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also notes that even when we are ready to loosen restrictions, we will need to be prepared to tighten them again if there are signs of increasing spread of COVID. Nonetheless, it is reassuring to see some benefit from strict social distancing measures which have been enacted.