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Now you can see the relationship between reopening policies and COVID-19 cases

Deborah Netburn, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

Florida. South Carolina. Arizona. Nevada.

In these and other states across America, the number of new COVID-19 cases is growing at an alarming rate, and there is no indication that the coronavirus that causes it will slow down anytime soon.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey warned this week that hospitals in his state could hit surge capacity very shortly and urged residents to stay home when possible, wear masks, and stop gathering in large groups.

He stopped short, however, of reimposing any formal restrictions on Arizonans' activities, appealing instead to their sense of altruism and community.

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis is continuing to move toward the final tier of his three-step plan to reopen the Sunshine State, even as it contends with the sharpest increase in new cases anywhere in the country,

DeSantis said it was a blessing that in the past few weeks the majority of people testing positive for the virus had shifted from those over 50 to those ages 18 to 44, a group less likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 or to die of the disease, the Tampa Bay Times reported.


But health officials caution that -- unless there are interventions in place like widespread mask-wearing, social distancing, and robust testing followed by contact tracing -- the virus will almost certainly reach older populations as well.

"You won't see the same peak in deaths right now that you saw earlier in the pandemic, but it will eventually spread to people who will die," said Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

Nuzzo and her colleagues have created a new data visualization tool that combines the number of new COVID-19 cases and deaths reported every day in each state with the dates that reopening policies have been implemented there.

The goal is to help researchers, policy makers and the public understand the impact of reopening measures on the number of new cases in each state.


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