Due to the virus’s incubation period of up to two weeks, the effects of the reopening wouldn’t have been immediately apparent. These states, however, started easing restrictions at the beginning of May. Three weeks on, the states appear to be on a path out of the pandemic, or at least its current bout.
Experts have predicted that even phased reopening would cause some increase in the virus’s spread. While there is some evidence of this phenomenon, the overall trend points to a decline.
The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, broke out in the central Chinese city of Wuhan around November 2019, before spreading throughout the world.
There have been nearly 1.7 million confirmed cases in the United States and over 93,000 deaths attributed to the virus. Nearly half of all cases have been concentrated in a cluster or northeastern states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.
Florida and Texas belong to the less affected states, ranking 33 and 39 respectively in the number of per capita cases. Still, each have had over 50,000 residents testing positive, providing a testing ground for the effects of reopening.
Texas started reopening on May 1 with retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and malls allowed to run at 25-50 percent capacity. On May 8, hair salons, barbershops, and other beauty parlors were allowed to open. By May 22, restaurants were allowed to fill to 50 percent capacity and a plethora of businesses, from day care centers and youth clubs to bars and bowling alleys, were also allowed to reopen, though with a list of precautionary measures required.
The seven-day average of confirmed daily infections reached the peak of about 1,300 on May 16 and has since declined to 950 on May 26 in the state.
Meanwhile, the number of currently hospitalized for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, dropped from a peak of 1,888 on May 5 to 1,534 on May 26 in the state, according to data released by the Texas Department of State Health Services.
The daily numbers of deceased have also decreased from 38 on May 15 to 24 on May 26, based on the seven-day moving average.
In Florida, the situation is more complicated.
The state started to reopen on May 4, but delayed the move for its most affected counties of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach in the south. The first to open were restaurants and retailers, albeit at 25 percent capacity for indoor areas. Starting May 18, restaurants, retail stores, and gyms were allowed to run at half capacity. Barber shops and beauty parlors were allowed to open too, “while adhering to safety protocols.”
The state’s seven-day average of confirmed daily infections reached about 750 on May 17.
Since then, Florida more than doubled the average number of tests performed daily and was thus expected to detect more cases.
For several days, the numbers of infections went up, but then started to drop again. By May 25, the seven-day average of daily new cases was back to 750, even with twice as many tests conducted.
The percentage of tests detecting a new positive case was 4.5 percent in the 7 days ending May 17. In the seven days ending May 25, the rate dropped to about 2.4 percent.
Data from Florida Department of Health indicate that the numbers of daily newly reported COVID-19 hospitalizations dropped from the average of more than 180 a day in early April to less than 100 a day in early May and further to less than 50 a day in the seven days ending May 24.
The drop in hospitalizations was particularly dramatic between May 13, when 130 were reported, and May 24, when only 21 were reported. It’s likely, though, that the most recent days’ data is incomplete.
The daily numbers of deceased dropped from more than 50 in early April to less than 21 in early May, and finally to less than 3 a day by May 24, based on the seven-day moving average.
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