Covid: this second wave sweeping across the southern United States

What’s going on in Florida? Long hesitant to take action in the face of the Covid epidemic, the “Sunshine State” suddenly made a radical decision: the ban on selling alcohol in bars. Note the subtle distinction: the governor did not close the establishments, he just put them on a dry diet hoping to dissuade consumers. Three days later, the mayor of Jacksonville, a good-looking conservative, imposed the wearing of masks in closed public places. A dramatic turnaround. A few weeks earlier, the Republicans had chosen to transfer their national convention to this city because the mayor, unlike that of Charlotte, where the mass was to take place at the end of August, had promised them not to impose social distance and other restrictions. But Florida authorities have little choice. The number of daily cases over the past 14 days has increased astronomically, from 1,700 on June 15 to 8,530 last Sunday …

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Florida is not alone. A dozen states – especially in the south of the country – have announced a “pause” in the reopening of their economy. Texas, which has very little confined its inhabitants, is also experiencing an explosion of the Covid cases. There too, the bars are now closed and restaurants must limit their capacity to 50% instead of 75%. Measures in total opposition to what the Conservative governor had decided a few weeks ago. In Arizona, the governor halted the reopening of bars, gyms and cinemas for 30 days and banned public events.

The curve skyrockets

Infections in the United States peaked at the end of April – on April 24, there were 36,738 cases – and fell by half in mid-May. But this past week, the Covid has experienced a worrying upsurge in 32 states, particularly in the South and West, surpassing the peak in mid-April. On Sunday, there were 38,700 new cases, bringing the number of Americans testing positive to more than 2.6 million. Over the past 14 days, the number of cases has more than doubled in Texas, Florida and Arizona.

This is not surprising, specialists creak: the majority of southern states are led by conservatives who ignored the advice of health specialists and deconfigured very early, without requiring the wearing of masks, physical distancing or the ban on assemblies. Florida is the perfect example. Ron DeSantis, the governor, a pure Trumpeter, followed the president’s positions to the letter. Like Donald Trump since the start of the pandemic, he minimized the risks of the virus, accused the media of exaggerating the facts, refused to impose the wearing of a mask and quickly reopened his beaches, restaurants, hairdressers, claiming that the economic damage was much more serious than the health crisis, which, it is true, was initially limited to his State. Which earned him praise from Donald Trump. But since then, the number of cases has exploded, with more than 8,000 positive individuals per day this weekend.

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The Governor of Florida cites the increase in the number of screening tests to explain the bad figures. As well as the behavior of young people, who do not respect barrier gestures. It is indeed among 25-35 year olds that we count the greatest number of positive individuals. Ron DeSantis recognized, however, that the upsurge of the Covid coincided with the deconfinement. But he still does not plan to impose the wearing of a mask. Ditto in Arizona. Governor Doug Ducey has limited the reopening without prohibiting, for example, certain sports for young people. “We want to leave a little flexibility,” he said. Personal responsibility and responsible behavior can help a lot. “

“At first, the pandemic was made worse by Trump’s neglect and indifference,” said David Frum, a former speech writer for George Bush who became a political commentator. He dismantled the pandemic management cell, multiplied the errors, constantly claimed that it was a common flu and that it would disappear very quickly. “

Many Republicans followed him as one man on this path. They ridiculed, for example, the wearing of the mask, “the Covid burqa”, symbol of a lack of virility, an irrational fearfulness, of state oppression … According to a Reuters-Ipsos poll in May, only a third of Republicans were “very worried” about the virus, compared to 50% of Democrats.

Read also United States: the dangerous politicization of the mask

The whole anti-mask campaign stems from the fact that the Conservatives were counting on the economy – which looked like a charm before the health crisis – to ensure their victory in the White House and in Congress. They therefore pushed, under constant pressure from the president, to restart, hoping that the situation would soon return to normal. Georgia ended containment on April 23, followed by Texas on April 1er May and Florida on the 4th.

But even Republican governors are struggling today to ignore the health crisis and continue the policy of the ostrich. As a result, more and more people praise the merits of the mask. Kevin McCarthy, the leader of the Republicans in the House, said that everyone should cover their faces …

Everything is going well, Madame la Marquise

In the White House, on the other hand, we continue to pretend that the virus has vanished. Mike Pence held a surreal TV briefing for the first time in almost two months last week, which sounded like the song “Everything is fine, Madame the Marquise”. “We have made really remarkable progress,” said the vice-president, while acknowledging the “vertiginous” increase in the South. “We are in a much better position,” he added, than two months ago, because the number of deaths is declining. It is true that the rate of death has slowed down. But is it because they do not happen immediately or because the present patients, younger, experience less severe symptoms?

Donald Trump, always very good at presenting things to his advantage, tweeted: “The deaths linked to the coronavirus are in sharp decline. The death rate is one of the lowest in the world. Our economy is galloping and we will not close. “

Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize winner in economics, very marked on the left, is obviously less optimistic: “At the start of the year, the majority of America plunged into hell as the nation struggled to manage the Covid-19. Over 120,000 Americans have died today, more than 20 million have lost their jobs. But it seems that all these sacrifices were in vain. “

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