These numbers are promising, but the ups and downs and ups tell an important lesson about keeping perspective in a pandemic. Today’s promising numbers would have been horrific at this time last year and are hardly as good as they need to be. The pandemic is nothing if not dynamic, with ever-shifting expectations and outcomes.
Similarly, the actions that looked wise last month can seem ill-advised today, when new data and results cast a new light on decisions and the people who make them. No one knows this more than the country’s governors. Since the Trump White House dumped the job of handling the pandemic almost entirely into their laps, they have had to respond on the fly. Without a coordinated, effective federal response the states have had to fill the gap. Some governors have been heroes in this crisis, others goats. Many, strangely, have been both.
We are already seeing the first wave of “who won and who lost” sorts of stories pitting various governors’ responses against each other in horse-race fashion, as if these were early polls for the 2024 presidential election.
Measuring Covid-19 management on anything other than the number of human lives lost is not only disgraceful, it will also almost certainly lead us to make all the wrong decisions once again and usher in yet another Covid-19 resurgence in the US.