The U.S. continues to be hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Friday, the death toll surpassed 50,000 and the number of infections is approaching the one million mark, with the Johns Hopkins coronavirus database registering 50,031 U.S. deaths and over 870,000 infections. Because tests are scarce, the real number of infections is probably much more.
Regardless of the numbers, and even though national health experts have warned of a second wave of infections in late 2020, many U.S. states are beginning to carry out plans to reopen businesses and curtail social distancing.
“We will have coronavirus in the fall,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said. “I am convinced of that because of the degree of transmissibility that it has, the global nature. What happens with that will depend on how we’re able to contain it when it occurs.”
The death toll has also been up and down. On Thursday, more than 3,000 people died from the virus—one of the U.S.'s deadliest days yet—after four days of declining death totals.
Over the last 10 days, governors from over a dozen states—including Florida, Alaska, Tennessee, California, Colorado, and Georgia—have also announced plans to ease out of lockdowns and limitations on businesses.
While California Gov. Gavin Newsom has decided against opening “up large sectors of our society,” he has amended the state’s stay-at-home order so that “essential” surgeries may continue. “Tumors, heart valves, the need for people to get the kind of care they deserve,” Newsom said. “If it’s delayed, it becomes acute. This fundamentally is a health issue.”
Other states are taking a bolder approach. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp allowed a number of nonessential businesses to reopen on Friday, including gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, barbers, cosmetologists, and massage therapists.
Most of the reasoning behind pushing up the timetable is economic. Unemployment in the U.S. has skyrocketed, with the pandemic leaving one in six Americans jobless, according to a new report. On Thursday, the House passed a $484 billion relief bill to aid businesses and hospitals—and just last week, over 4.4 million people applied for unemployment benefits.