Over the last two months, the United States has seen an increase in Coronavirus cases from 631 cases in early March to 1,274,036 cases at the time of writing this article in early May, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Many of these cases can be attributed to Coronavirus hotspots located in the U.S. such as New York City, Seattle, and even Boston, where the number of cases has been proportionately more severe in comparison to other metropolitan areas. To combat these statistics and flatten the curve, states, various cities, and towns throughout the U.S. have enacted numerous stay-at-home orders, self-isolation precautions, and shutdowns of various industries in an attempt to slow the spread of the disease. While these precautions affect daily life in significant ways, often erasing any idea of normalcy and routine in our day-to-day lives, they are necessary for saving lives and preventing an overwhelming strain on the healthcare system.
Already, many states are seeing the positive impact that self-quarantining is having on the virus, many of which are reporting a decline in the number of new cases per day. Massachusetts, in particular, has seen a decline from a peak of 3,000 new cases a day to 1,400, a more than 50% decrease according to WCVB. While this number is certainly heartening, it is still far away from the numbers health experts are looking for when deciding to end social distancing and quarantine measures. Because of this, the state remains in a state of emergency. The stay-at-home advisory is still active throughout the commonwealth, and precautions such as mandatory mask-wearing are still enacted in major cities such as Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville.
While stay-at-home orders and advisories throughout the country are proving that such measures are effective in preventing the spread of Coronavirus, the end of these warnings is still being discussed among the leaders of the country. They aim to keep the health and safety of the population in mind, as well as the continued economic impact that quarantine has on the country. As a result, many states and cities are considering a partial re-opening to keep small businesses active and their residents employed. Georgia, for example, re-opened some of its industries such as bars, salons, and bowling alleys on April 24th. The state saw a decrease in cases and decided that the pros of reopening the economy outweighed the cons of increased exposure. While heavily contended among other states in the country, this action has sparked conversation among governors as to when it would be appropriate to open their economies.
In a daily Covid-19 press briefing over a week ago, Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts informed the commonwealth that the state would be extending its stay-at-home advisory and accompanying protocols from May 4th until May 18th. As he explained, this is to strategically plan for what reopening means, and what measures the state may have to put in place for the foreseeable future to make sure that the residents of Massachusetts stay as safe as possible from Coronavirus. Until then, shops stay closed and schools remain online while the leaders of both this state and country decide the best course of action to get back to a normal, or at least a new version of it.
As the number of days in quarantine increases, governors, mayors, and other elected officials are making decisions that will both appease the needs and wants of residents throughout the United States and beyond, as well as stay in line with federal regulations about the course of the virus. This is a difficult task, now more than ever, as no one can be 100% sure as to the course that the virus will take. Until we reach a new sense of normalcy, the most important action we can take is following the guidelines as they come, and taking it one day at a time, knowing that one day we will regain the same normalcy we once had.