I have a summary of the most recent Coronavirus news, from where I sit in a modest-size suburb in a large Northeastern state. I'm guessing our situation is at least somewhat similar to the one in your part of the world.
We just got a notice this morning from our county health commissioner. There were 22 more COVID-19 deaths over the past few days. All of the victims had underlying health conditions. All but four were age 75 or older and residents of long-term care facilities. This confirms recent data showing that elderly residents of long-term care facilities are especially vulnerable to the disease.
"We're going through a really bad phase right now in our nursing homes," said the director of the county health department. "We are hopefully near the peak of it, we are seeing more staff returning as they recover, and we are seeing more residents recovering in the nursing homes as well."
At least 66 congregate living facilities in the county -- more than three quarters of the total -- have had outbreaks. "When this wave is over," the director continued, "I don't think we will have large outbreaks again because so many of the staff and residents will likely have some immunity."
There were 85 new Coronavirus cases reported in the county yesterday. Of those, 56 were residents or employees of long-term care facilities, while only four cases were attributed to community spread.
Altogether, our county has had 3,505 residents test positive for the virus since the epidemic began. There have been 280 deaths -- 80 percent of them long-term-care residents.
Some 920 people have recovered and been released from isolation. But 192 patients remain hospitalized, 24 of them currently on ventilators and in critical condition.
At the same time, the governor has announced a partial reopening of the state. On May 8, 24 of the more rural counties in Pennsylvania will be partially released from the state-wide lockdown. Stay-at-home orders will be lifted, but gatherings of more than 25 people will still be prohibited. So gyms, spas, theaters and casinos will remain closed. Organized team sports are not permitted. Retail stores may reopen with curbside and delivery the "preferred method of operation." Restaurants will still be limited to carryout or delivery.
I live near Philadelphia, not one of the rural counties, so the stay-at-home orders remain. I'm not even sure what "stay-at-home" means exactly. B and I took a walk into our little town yesterday. Pretty much everything is closed down, except a few restaurants offering curbside take-out. We saw a few fellow walkers on the street. About half were wearing masks. (We were not -- we didn't get anywhere near six feet to anyone.)
Regarding the partial lifting, the Pennsylvania health secretary said, "All the information we have suggests that if we release the mitigation efforts too soon in areas that are very affected by COVID-19, areas that still have significant community transmission, then we'll just go right back to that exponential rise, and it could even be higher than the rise before."
Looking ahead, there is no decision yet on whether or not the schools in Pennsylvania, which have been closed since mid-March, will reopen in the fall. Officials from the Department of Education say there are no plans to keep schools closed, but "any future decisions regarding school openings will be grounded in the health and safety of our students." A hybrid attendance approach may be utilized to allow for social distancing, with a combination of in-person and remote instruction.
Finally, a notice came out two days ago that Pennsylvania is preparing for a second wave of Coronavirus in the fall, citing federal officials including Dr. Anthony Fauci, who have been warning of the prospect of a resurgence of the virus in the fall. "I'm almost certain it will come back," said Dr. Fauci, "because the virus is so transmissible and it's globally spread."
State officials are expanding testing capabilities, developing contact tracing systems to target potential outbreaks, and making sure hospitals and other medical facilities are prepared in case of a new outbreak.
I guess, like all of us. they are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. Good luck to all of you, and godspeed.