With new cases of the coronavirus suddenly surging across multiple states that had low and manageable caseloads just months ago, confusion and anger are swirling among those who obeyed lockdowns and drastic social measures out of a sense of civic duty to help bring the U.S. outbreak under control.
Nationwide, cases have risen 65 percent over the past two weeks. On Friday, the country reported more than 45,000 new infections, a record. By Saturday evening, more than 41,000 cases of the coronavirus had been announced across the United States, including single-day records in Florida, Nevada and South Carolina. It was the third consecutive day with more than 40,000 new cases in the country.
Before this week, the country’s largest daily total had been 36,738 on April 24.
Many business owners and workers who lost their jobs say they believe their leaders failed to prepare for the economic devastation that followed shutdowns that states had adopted, to differing degrees, since March. And they say that recent reopenings undercut their sacrifices.
In recent weeks, some conservatives said they had an additional concern: After weeks of being told that going to church, attending funerals and participating in protests was a willful, careless spurning of science, political leaders and some public health officials condoned — and even joined — the crowds protesting the killing of George Floyd and other black Americans.
“It’s just a real social whiplash,” said Philip Campbell, vice president of a pest control company in Central Michigan, who took part in the first protests against the lockdown in Lansing in April from the cab of his truck. “Two weeks ago you can’t go out because you are going to kill grandma. Now it’s ‘you have an obligation to go out.’ It leaves me feeling that the science and the public health authorities have been politicized.”
A number of states are reconsidering their reopening plans. Florida and Texas reimposed limits on bars, banning drinking inside or closing the premises entirely, as they scrambled to control what appeared to be a brewing public health catastrophe. All of this has left people with a bitterness toward public officials for what feels like a fumbling of their constituents’ sacrifices.