We shall fight them on the beaches …
As Americans wrestle with how to emerge from weeks of social-distancing restrictions, tensions are building between those who remain desperate to suppress the coronavirus and those who are desperate to get out of the house. And the nation’s beaches have become a flash point.
In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis has resisted pressure even from the White House to close all his state’s beaches, insisting that decisions should be made locally. The state drew heavy criticism for failing to stop swarms of young people from congregating for spring break when the coronavirus was spreading out of control.
But Mayor Dan Gelber of Miami Beach said enforcing rules like that “is difficult, if not impossible.” His city’s beaches are still closed, he said, because “once you open them, there’s a good chance that they would be wall-to-wall with people.”
Safety patrols in Volusia County, Fla., whose beaches are open only for solitary exercise, issued more than 1,200 violation warnings on Sunday, to little avail. “We’ll drive away, and people will come up right behind us and set up a tent and chairs and just hang out,” said Capt. Tamra Malphurs, a spokeswoman. “People are getting quarantine fatigue.”
Beaches are vital to the economies of coastal states and are among the few affordable ways for low-income residents to cool off in hot weather (Southern California and South Florida have already had heat waves this year). But beaches are also places where it is all too easy for people to get too close — and where hardly anyone feels like wearing a mask.
A crisis unfolding in Latin America
The pandemic appears to be ebbing in much of Asia and Europe, but it has yet to peak in Latin America, where it took hold later and where some leaders have been dismissive of the threat.
Nicaragua, the poorest country in Central America, has told its people to keep living as usual, and it is one of only a few nations in the world to carry on with professional sports.
The rationale is often that the plants make things the military or the health care system needs. The company that owns Sharpie and Paper Mate, for example, has argued that doctors and nurses need pens.
But Mexican officials have warned that companies are not doing enough to protect workers. One factory even put chains on its doors to prevent employees from leaving, according to the labor secretary of Baja California.
Reverse migration in Peru: Driven by job losses and fear of infection, thousands of people in Lima and other cities are fleeing to rural areas — and potentially carrying the virus with them.
The looming vaccine challenge: Making enough doses
A working vaccine against the coronavirus would be the best tool to help society return to normal. President Trump has pressed officials to produce one by the end of 2020, though experts say that even under the best circumstances, it will take something more like 12 to 18 months. (The current U.S. speed record is four years.)
But that’s just Step 1. Step 2 is just as important: quickly manufacturing hundreds of millions or even billions of doses, especially if it turns out that each person will need two doses to be protected, as is often the case with vaccinations.
Meeting that towering demand will call for planning, flexibility and maybe a running start. It’s not just the vaccine itself — the country will also need huge additional quantities of vials and syringes and other supplies, and manufacturers will need time to gear up for making them.
Trade-offs. Donald G. McNeil Jr., a Times science reporter, says that rapidly producing enough doses of vaccine for the whole country may require drastic steps, like converting breweries and distilleries and repurposing the labs we already have.
“That may mean that we stop making measles vaccine, and we stop making pneumococcal vaccine, and we stop making a lot of other vaccines,” he said on the NPR program “Fresh Air.” “So we end up putting people in danger of not being able to get a shingles shot or not being able to get a hepatitis A or B shot or something like that, while we’re converting everything to Covid-19 vaccine.”
But really, how long will it take? The Times’s Opinion section asked vaccine experts how to squeeze the timeline into months instead of years. They said it would mean cutting some red tape, cutting some corners and catching some breaks.
What you can do
Track your symptoms. If you think you have Covid-19, it’s important to mark your calender at the first sign of illness and keep track as they develop. Here, from our colleague Tara Parker-Pope, is a rough timeline of how the virus progresses:
Days 1 to 3 — It can start with a tickle in your throat or a cough, a fever, headaches, feeling winded or a little pressure in your chest. Some people may just feel tired. Some may lose their sense of taste and smell.
Days 4 to 8 — Fevers, cough and fatigue will intensify in many patients. Around Day 5, older patients and those with underlying conditions should start watching for signs of a more serious infection, like increasing shortness of breath.
Days 8 to 12 — People with mild cases may start to feel better, but doctors urge caution at this stage. Many patients will continue recovering, but some may quickly take a turn for the worse. It can happen in younger and healthier patients as late as Day 12.
After that — If your illness was relatively mild, you should be well recovered by this point. Those whose symptoms were worse, but who maintained normal blood oxygen levels, should be feeling mostly recovered. Patients who had severe symptoms or needed medical intervention will recover more slowly.
What you’re doing
On March 23, we started a family journal on Google Docs. The writers are from two different states, three families, ages 75, 48, 13, and two 12-year-olds. It’s now about 10 pages. We had no family recollections about the 1918 virus, so that was the impetus.
— Marj Radin, Brookline, Mass.
Let us know how you’re dealing with the outbreak. Send us a response here, and we may feature it in an upcoming newsletter.