S.E. Williams | Contributor
“Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”
– John Donne, Meditation XVII
Thursday, May 27, 2020, marked a solemn day for our nation—100,000 souls lost to the deadly COVID-19.
The same day America marked this solemn reality, California recognized a tangential milestone—the state exceeded 100,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
In both instances, the measures represent a disturbing truth—the country is paying a terrible price for a series of unforced errors, judgements and implementation strategies that might have helped mitigate such expansive and ongoing devastation.
Among the easily identifiable problems faced by the nation early on in the pandemic was the delay in issuing a national stay-at-home order; the limited availability of personal protective equipment for frontline workers; and a disorganized delay in getting testing material to the states, etc.
America’s starkly grim milestone, the highest number of deaths recorded by any nation, has been disproportionately borne by the nation’s people of color—Black, Brown, Filipinos and American Indians, as well as the elderly.
For example, new data from the APM Research Lab, as recently reported by the Guardian, revealed African-Americans have died at a rate of 50.3 per 100,000 people, compared with only 20.7 for Whites, 22.9 for Latinos and 22.7 for Asian Americans.
In addition, here in California Blacks are more than two and a half times more likely than other groups to be hospitalized due to COVID-19.
Sadly, as states across the country rallied to reopen in recent weeks, the number of cases continue climbing in at least 20 states—including California.
When this state reached 100,000 confirmed cases Wednesday, it confirmed rising totals were being tracked in several regions across the state—including the inland region—as California moves more fully into Phase 2 and prepares enthusiastically, to enter Phase 3 of Governor Gavin Newsom’s 4 phase reopening strategy.
California has now reached and exceeded 100,000 cases even though it has been less than a month since the state marked 50,000 deaths on April 30, 2020.
In the last week, California has added nearly 3,000 newly cases of COVID-19. This represented a new high for the state—the previous high occurred only two weeks ago when 1,878 COVID-19 cases were confirmed in a single seven-day cycle.
If there is any silver lining in the state’s data, it is although the number of confirmed cases continue adding up, the state’s death toll has slowed. During the last week California has averaged just under 60 deaths per day—below the recent average of about 75.
In the meantime, many in the nation mourn the passage of our fellow Americans and grieve with the loved ones left behind.
In late April, an autopsy in Santa Clara, California, confirmed the nation’s first COVID-19 death actually occurred on February 6, 2020—weeks earlier than initially thought. For many, it is difficult to fathom so much loss in such a short period. As the nation marks this day, it is important to remember each human being counted among the 100,000 lost were so much more than a number to those who loved them.
This sad milestone comes amidst the almost celebratory atmosphere of the nation’s re-opening and a general sense among so many, the worst of the pandemic is behind us. However, it is important to recognize more and more Americans are confirmed positive for the illness every day and the nation’s death toll is continuing to rise.
Medical experts continue to warn this may only be the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end.