The U.S. Has Officially Unflattened the Curve With Its Worst Day of the Coronavirus Pandemic Yet

Yeah, let’s take a moment to say a big “fuck you” to everyone who didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Yeah, she wasn’t perfect by any means, but I can guarantee you that she would have done a much better job leading us through this catastrophe. George W. Bush would have done a better job getting us through this mess. Hell, my damn cat would have made less bad decisions then the dude who bankrupted casinos. You know, the businesses where people bad at math line up to give you their money.

On April 7, less than a month after reported cases of COVID-19 began to rise in the United States, the rate of new infections reached a peak: an average of 31,630 new cases per day, meaning close to 10 in every 100,000 Americans were testing positive daily. For months, that figure stood as the worst day in the pandemic’s spread at the national level.

Until now. The latest data show that, on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week (June 23 and June 24), the U.S. surpassed that high-water mark, at more than 31,700 infections per day. The state of the pandemic in this country is officially worse than it has ever been.

What is particularly troubling about this trend is that the country as a whole was on the right track through the end of May (unlike a number of states, such as North Carolina, which never flattened or showed extended signs of progress) even if it wasn’t out of the woods entirely. The fact that those positive signs all flipped in polarity suggest that, whatever combination of factors led to this resurgence, one thing is clear: the nation did not adapt to changing circumstances.

Assigning causes and effects to peaks and valleys in a dataset as complex as this one is a dangerous business. But as my colleague Tara Law and I reported last week, greater availability of testing is very unlikely to explain the surge in cases. And one cannot ignore the fact that many states began cautiously reopening public spaces around Memorial Day, about two weeks before the numbers in the U.S. took off. That’s about COVID-19’s typical incubation time.