In a previous post from June called The American Surge, I wrote about the debate at the time over whether the US had entered a second wave given it seemed clear that the first wave to hit the country had never really passed. I also suggested that fire may be a more fitting metaphor and that "in the places where the fire has been brought down to a smoldering remnant, a handful of embers can still exist that erupt again when oxygen returns." Whether you call it a fresh flame or another wave, unfortunately it's happening in Europe right now. After lockdowns successfully dampened the spread of COVID-19 across the continent through most of the spring and summer, many major European countries are now again reporting new cases in the thousands each day.
The cold weather that will come with fall, drawing people indoors, and the seeming lack of political will to enforce lockdowns with the type of severity of those in March and April, does not augur well for the outbreaks' containment. French President Emmanuel Macron recently expressed a preference for "very localized strategies" rather than a national lockdown. In Spain, 17 regional governments have taken over the response to the pandemic after the end of the state of emergency in June, creating an unorganized patchwork of different rules that will vary in effectiveness. The director of Spain's health emergency center says that "nobody should be in any doubt, things are not going well."1
In the US, things have stopped getting worse, but they aren't getting much better. As a positive sign, the percentage of conducted tests that are positive for the virus continues to edge lower. The number of tests being administered each day, however, has also ebbed.
California, Texas, Florida, and Georgia now appear well past the apex in the pace of new cases they report each day, though each continues to see daily increases in cases larger than those of the major European countries referenced above.
Marc Santora, "With Coronavirus Cases Surging, Europe Braces for New Phase in Pandemic", The New York Times, August 21, 2020.↩