The U.S. passed 50,000 coronavirus deaths on Friday and is closing in on nearly 1 million infections as several states around the nation begin implementing plans for reopening businesses and easing social distancing.
On Friday the Johns Hopkins coronavirus database listed 51,017 U.S. deaths and more than 890,000 infections. Due to a lack of testing, the actual number of infections is likely to be much higher.
Despite warnings from national health leaders that the country could face a second wave of the virus in late 2020, states and cities are drafting or implementing plans to get people out of their homes and back into mainstream life.
“We will have coronavirus in the fall,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the White House’s Coronavirus Task force. “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.”
Meanwhile the death toll continues to rise and drop at sporadic rates. On Thursday, for instance, the U.S. followed up four days of decreased death totals with one of its deadliest days yet, with over 3,000 deaths.
The latest milestone comes at an incongruous time when many states, under intense pressure from not only the White House but also their own citizens, announce plans to allow people back to work.
Governors of more than a dozen states in the past 10 days — including California, Florida, Alaska, Tennessee, Colorado and Georgia — have detailed their hope to slowly phase out lockdowns and restrictions on businesses.
Some are only allowing minor reopenings. Gov. Gavin Newsom said that California was not prepared “to open up large sectors of our society” but made the first modification to the state’s stay-at-home order with the resumption of “essential” surgeries.
“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.”
Others are more aggressive. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said he was allowing certain businesses to reopen on April 24, including gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, barbers, cosmetologists and massage therapists. Georgia’s timetable is one of the most aggressive in the nation.
“Each of these entities will subject to specific restrictions, including adherence to the basic minimum operations, social distancing and regular sanitation,” Kemp said.