Cases of the coronavirus have soared as some states relax stay-at-home rules, and the federal health officials say that known infections may only be the tip of the iceberg.
Positive tests hit a new high in the last week of June, reaching nearly 40,000 in a single day. The increases were concentrated in states in the south and west of the country. Although new cases are being reported, the death rate has fallen.
In King County, a persistent decline in cases beginning the week of the official “stay home, stay healthy” order from the governor seemed to level out and even increase slightly as it enters “phase 2.”
Phase 2 of Washington’s reopening plan allows more businesses open, some at limited capacity. It also allows indoor religious services, as long as they are at 25 percent capacity or 200 people, whichever is less. Choirs will not be able to perform, and everyone must wear masks.
Some of the largest individual outbreaks in the nation have occurred in churches.
Gov. Jay Inslee signed an order requiring that as of Friday, June 26, Washingtonians must wear masks in public.
New reports in recent weeks have shown masks can be very effective in reducing the spread of the coronavirus, despite early advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that masks were unnecessary.
The CDC has since recommended that people use masks.
Inslee’s order received pushback. At least two sheriffs objected to the ban in conversations with local media, and Inslee was met by protesters on a trip to Spokane.
State and local governments set their own coronavirus policies and have been doing so in the absence of clear messaging from the federal government and the White House.
At a rally, President Donald Trump told attendees that he’d ordered a reduction in coronavirus testing because the rising numbers make the U.S. look bad.
He doubled down with reporters peppering him with questions as he crossed the White House lawn. Then, in a town hall interview with Sean Hannity, Trump reversed course and said he was being sarcastic.
Federal health officials say that estimates around the number of coronavirus cases in the country may be far too low.
According to the Washington Post, CDC Director Robert Redfield told reporters that as many as 24 million people in the U.S. may have been infected with coronavirus.
That figure is 10 times the current number of confirmed positive cases.
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Follow Ashley on Twitter @AshleyA_RC.
Read more in the July 1-7, 2020 issue.