As of noon today, the case total and death toll in the United States stood at 2,344,023 and 122,127. And where are the numbers going? Well, if statistical trends are any indication, they are set to grow dramatically.
Going back to May 24, the U.S. has had week-to-week increases in case totals of 153,150 (May 24-31), 155,420 (May 31-June 7), 155,564 (June 7-14) and 181,010 (June 14-21).
On a state-by-state basis, California (4363 new cases on Saturday), Texas (4250), Florida (4049), Arizona (3109), Georgia (1800), North Carolina (1773), Louisiana (1231) and South Carolina (1155) are the current hotspots. But they are far from the only states where day-to-day case totals are climbing, with the largest increases being seen in the south and western parts of the country.
The increases come on the heels of most states loosening physical distancing guidelines. Not surprisingly, as bars, restaurants, beaches and whatnot open up, infection rates for younger people are on the rise. Since elderly people and those with pre-existing medical conditions are at greatest risk, the rising case load won’t likely lead to an immediate increase in fatalities. But it will contribute to community spread, which will put more people at risk.
It’s also throwing a giant monkey wrench into plans of professional (and amateur) sports leagues to get back to business as usual. Major League Baseball teams, for instance, had begun gathering in Florida and Arizona for a few weeks of training before starting a truncated season sometime in July. But those plans were put on hold on Friday when several teams, including the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Angels, reported that players had tested positive for the virus.
The National Basketball League is in a similar state of limbo. Plans had been in the works for playoff eligible teams to gather at Disney World in Orlando for training in preparation for a tournament to declare a league champion. But with Florida experiencing a spike in cases, those plans are now in jeopardy. The National Hockey League, Major League Soccer and Women’s National Basketball Association are also likely to be impacted.
At the college level, the Clemson Tigers had gathered in South Carolina for a training camp in preparation for the 2020 NCAA football season. But those plans came to a screeching halt on Friday when the team reported that 21 players and two staff members had tested positive for COVID-19. The University of Houston, Louisiana State University and Kansas State University are other programs that have experienced outbreaks.
The plans sports leagues had to build quarantine bubbles around players always had an air of fantasy about them. Now, I guess, the question is what level of infections and subsequent health impacts league officials, teams owners — and most importantly, players — will be willing to tolerate to keep playing. So stay tuned.