t’s becoming clear that one of the biggest COVID concerns for North Carolina isn’t just what’s happening in our state – it’s the cautionary tales we’re seeing in other states.
In our state, the situation is not good, but it’s not out of control.
Cases are up…
…but so is testing:
To make sense of both of those metrics and see the overall situation, we look at the percentage of tests that are coming back positive. That controls for the fact that we’ve increased testing.
And that number has remained flat at about 9%:
What does that mean?
It means the absolute number of cases is going up, but the rate of growth is not. So we have linear growth, but not exponential growth.
To be clear: No one defends having a 9% positive rate. According to Sec. Cohen, she wants to get it down to half that. It’s a bad situation – but the larger point is that it could easily become worse.
We know this just from looking around.
South Carolina is at a 20% positive rate.
Arizona is at 25%.
Florida is at 19%.
That’s why their new case charts look like this:
To be clear, if we get a chart like that in our state, everything changes.
There are certain reopening conversations we’re having right now that will simply stop. And not because of government – because of citizens. If we see this kind of explosive growth in our state, personal and family behavior will dramatically change. And lots of people will needlessly suffer and die.
These are striking cautionary tales that we simply cannot ignore – no matter how tired everyone is of dealing with this.
Which brings up a good question:
“Hey Jeff – do we have any weapons for fighting this that are more effective than testing, masks, and social distancing?”
No. We do not. Those are our three most effective weapons. If we drop one, we have a serious problem. We need to fully use all three to keep this from getting out of control.
That’s why, when looking at policy options for our state, the issue isn’t just what the situation is right now. The issue is how quickly things could get worse, and we don’t have to speculate about that. All we have to do is look around.
I understand reopening is a huge debate. But we’re in a much, much better position than these other states. They simply don’t have as many options as we do right now.
In order to preserve our options – in order to even have a reopening debate – we have to recognize how close we are to finding ourselves in a much worse position and guard against it.
In particular, the debate about wearing masks has become absurd. Please wear one.
This is an enemy that can multiply faster than we can defend and if we pretend otherwise for a few weeks it could easily re-write the whole script.
The good news is we still have the ability to avoid that in North Carolina. We just have to learn from the mistakes of others and make sure we don’t repeat them.
– Sen. Jeff Jackson