COVID-19 in California, North Carolina continues steady increase

New cases of COVID-19 are spiking in multiple states. These California and North Carolina charts are particularly worrisome because they show a steady rise, even during lockdown. Why is this? What’s different about those states and how authorities handled it compared to, say New York, which has hugely reduced deaths and new cases. At least for now.

Everyone is reopening. Woo-hoo. Pardon my lack of enthusiasm. New cases here in Nevada are spiking hard, and we’ve only been open a few days. The mix of tens of thousands of visitors milling around close together in casinos mostly not wearing masks will spread infections. Ditto for the protests. Yes, it was important to get in the streets and yes, that will spread infections too.

Mostly, I think, we don’t really understand how COVID-19 moves and infects. It’s new. This is mostly uncharted territory.

Why are there so many COVID-19 outbreaks in meatpacking plants? Is it close proximity to other workers, lack of genuine safety precautions by the factory management, can animals be carriers, something else? Because this is a serious problem both for health of workers and for the meat supply for the country. And it’s getting worse. Most of the workers are immigrants looking for a better life and steady paycheck, and are willing to work hard. But they have little say about safety or working conditions.

What’s clear is that the industry’s efforts so far, though they may have lessened the virus’s spread, have not come close to stopping it. Over the past month, the number of infections tied to three of the country’s biggest meat processors — Tyson Foods, Smithfield Foods and JBS — has gone from just over 3,000 to more than 11,000.

Navajo Nation has the highest COVID-19 infection rate in the country, even as it is very sparsely populated. Structural racism and inequality is a major factor. Many areas do not even have running water and multiple generations live together under one roof.

Experts attribute the startling transmission rates in the Navajo Nation to health and social inequities. And Barrett, who has worked closely with the Navajo for more than a decade, can tick off plenty of them: a lack of paved roads, inadequate access to running water, high rates of children living in poverty. She’s quick to point out that the Indian Health Service, for which she worked for nearly a decade, including as a doctor on a remote part of the reservation, is woefully underfunded.

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