COVID-19 cases decline abroad, but transmission is rising in LA

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A face mask lies abandoned on dirt in Culver City, May 22, 2020. With Americans focused on police violence and reform, have they given up on fighting coronavirus? Photo by Amy Ta.

Despite more businesses reopening in LA and around the country, coronavirus is still out there. In fact, while LA’s daily death toll is going down, the transmission rate is climbing.

“This is a pandemic that we expected to hit in one wave, but it’s not really hitting like that,” says Alexis Madrigal, staff writer for the Atlantic. “It just hasn’t gone the way people thought it would.”

Cases are shrinking in New York, New Jersey, and other states that saw early outbreaks. But they’re growing in California, Arizona, and North Carolina, which are seeing their highest numbers of known cases.

“What we talk about as a lockdown, even in California, is not really what a lockdown was in a lot of other countries,” says Madrigal. “People continued to move around. People continued to interact. So we didn’t get the number of new cases down to zero.”

He says now it seems like people are giving up and states are reopening out of necessity.

“We didn’t put a big enough stimulus plan in place to put the economy on ice for a while, so that people could actually deal with the economic pain of these lockdowns. And it put a lot of pressure on regular people. They don’t really want to stay locked down if they’re not going to win,” he says.