‘We Are Not Even Beginning to Be Over This’

The 5 stages of the coronavirus pandemic

Robert Roy Britt
Elemental
Published in
5 min readJun 30, 2020

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Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

The explosion in Covid-19 cases across much of the United States is no surprise to the scientists who study infectious diseases and how they spread.

The coronavirus is just doing what viruses do, hopping from one human to another however it can in order to keep reproducing. And this one is doing it exceptionally well. It infects all ages, kills older people at higher rates, and leaves many, especially younger people, without symptoms so they’ll continue an unwitting spread.

By easing lockdowns too early and abruptly across all sectors of the economy, without sufficient requirements for face masks or physical distancing, governors in several states played with fire — fire that the scientists fully predicted — and now their fires are out of control.

New cases of Covid-19 are increasing in 35 states, with more than 2.6 million total confirmed cases and over 126,000 deaths, exceeding the number of total deaths from flu outbreaks or any other infectious disease outbreak in a single year or season since the 1918–19 influenza pandemic.

And, crazy as it sounds, it’s only just begun.

While Covid-19 deaths had been declining since a peak in mid-April, they leveled off in recent days and are expected to begin climbing soon.

“This is really the beginning,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said yesterday. “I think there was a lot of wishful thinking around the country that, ‘Hey it’s summer. Everything’s going to be fine. We’re over this,’ and we are not even beginning to be over this. There are a lot of worrisome factors about the last week or so.”

At this point, the pandemic can be thought of in five potential stages, four of which are well underway in the United States.

Stage 1: Infections are rising

The new cases being counted in recent weeks involved infections that occurred several days and up to two weeks prior, starting when, for example, Arizona reopened its economy May 15. (The…

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Robert Roy Britt
Elemental

Editor of Aha! and Wise & Well on Medium + the Writer's Guide at writersguide.substack.com. Author of Make Sleep Your Superpower: amazon.com/dp/B0BJBYFQCB