1 million cases later

As pandemic peaks, we take look back at all we have learned


Photo by Sydney Rowe

Story by Doug Kyles, Staff Writer

Ironically, the best thing about the internet is also the worst thing about the internet: the immense permanence. When it works in our favor, we have the luxury at looking back months, even years, to previous predictions to see if they became reality.

And if you couldn’t guess, we are doing just that with the coronavirus pandemic. 

It’s obvious; we’ve learned a lot about COVID-19 from its inception. Months ago, we really had no idea exactly how intense the situation might become, how quickly hospital beds would fill up, or just how many would fall victim to the virus. Now however, with more than 1 million confirmed cases in the U.S., and that number rising by the day, we can see just how right–and how very very wrong–our past predictions were. 

First, the statistic that catches more eyes than any other: total death count. 

Early March, even the White House was touting possible death counts as high as 2.2 million. This was the apocalyptic scenario that generated so much fear in the people of this country. 

Now, as of late April we are estimating around 50,000. And that, is a monumental change. To go from such a significant percentage of the country to a mere fraction of that, it just shows how much models can change. 

However, it goes further than hard numbers. The very science that is dictating public policy, like face masks, has changed as well. Originally, the CDC reported “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may soon agree with this assessment; the agency currently states that healthy people do not need to wear face masks unless they are caring for someone who is ill with the new coronavirus.” 

This was quick to change. By mid April, face masks were mandated across the country, for all public spaces. 

Social distancing measures were predicted by some to extend all the way into summer, perhaps fall. Now, we are seeing shops slowly reopen, and mandates relax.

It’s clear, no matter what trend you observe, death counts, face masks, or social distancing, what we know quickly turns into what we knew. With so much having changed a million cases later, who’s to say what kind of world we will be in with the many more to come.