A brief summary of the state of the pandemic to make you feel like an informed, responsible citizen
When COVID started, I checked in daily with new numbers of cases and deaths. By the end of 2020, I’d lost it. Pandemic stats became arrangements of meaningless symbols on a screen.
To absolve myself, here’s a snapshot of where the pandemic is in October 2021.
In all, 45,4 million people in the United States - or 14% of the population - tested positive for COVID-19. 736 000 deaths have been reported nationwide, making it the third leading cause of death this past year.
This map shows how the US was struck by two main waves.
The Delta variant propelled the second wave by spreading faster than earlier versions of the virus. However, scientists now seem to agree that Delta isn’t more severe - or slightly so - than other variants.
In Florida, the number of cases and deaths peaked in August and has since decreased significantly. As I write this, Florida has one of the nation's lowest rates of cases per capita.
57% of the population is fully vaccinated, and 66% received at least one dose. In Alachua, 68% of people 12 and over are vaccinated.
Vaccine mandates have helped push vaccine skeptics to get a dose, but have also resulted in some people leaving their jobs. 12 states, including Florida, have banned vaccine mandates. Food for thought: the first vaccine mandate in the US was enacted in 1809.
On the economic side, COVID aid packages contributed to sustained labor shortages, at least momentarily.
With stay-home mandates and pandemic relief packages, Americans saved a lot over the past year. This primarily affects lower-income families who didn’t have the means to spare money before. Consequently, more people are deciding to wait before going back to work and are unwilling to accept jobs with poor wages and benefits.
In the short term, this might mean slower services or shortages of products. However, let’s remember that lower-income workers rarely - if ever - get to fight for their prospects. This unexpected cash glut is first and foremost an opportunity to stand their ground and request better conditions.
Considering they’re the backbone of this entire economy, the inconvenience of waiting in line can be swallowed up.
Worldwide, China, Western countries, many countries in Latin America and some in the Maghreb have vaccination rates above 50%. Most of Africa and Eastern Europe have poor access to vaccines.
As long as COVID is active around the planet, we’re vulnerable to another surge initiated by a stronger and more deadly variant. Whenever it comes up in politics, make sure to advocate for a greater distribution of vaccines worldwide before booster shots. The latter do help and are important, but we should focus on communities in urgent and dire conditions first.
For now, there’s no reason to think another wave of COVID is coming. Colder weather in the north increased the rate of transmission a bit, but vaccines are still a strong protection against severe illness.
Hopefully, by this time next year, we’ll breathe each other’s recycled air with ecstasy. Until then,
m a s k u p , v a x u p
Aude Gagnon-Roberge is an online writer at Rowdy Magazine. She's an existentialist who gets hooked philosophy podcasts and novel coffee flavors. You can reach her on Instagram via @audegr or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.