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Americans, Europeans Flock To Parks & Beaches

Nearly all US states have at least partially lifted the lockdown measures imposed nearly 2 months ago. Just four states were classified as “pre-lift” (since NJ and NY have only just lifted restrictions in some areas, while others will probably be among the last areas in the country to reopen).

Now, CNN reports that really only two states have so far refused to lift any restrictions: the New England States of Connecticut and Massachusetts. While both states are typically blue-leaning, Massachusetts is currently led by a Republican governor, while Connecticut’s Democratic Gov Ned Lamont has promised to start lifting restrictions this week.

But what’s even more notable: In a piece published on its website on Monday, even CNN was forced to acknowledge that most US states haven’t seen the spike in cases that liberal ‘blue checks’ on twitter have been screaming about for weeks. The three states that have seen the biggest improvements include New Jersey, Missouri and Idaho, while the states that have seen the “biggest increases” have only seen infection rates climb by 1 or 2 persons per 100,000.

Still, CNN hypes of the ‘stay home, save lives’ angle whereever it can, even as it acknowledges that cases in Georgia have been mostly flat as the state has reopened, despite an acceleration in testing.

And in New York State, Andrew Cuomo is now chastizing residents for being “too lazy” to get tested. A little more than a month ago, he was urging residents that they didn’t need to be tested unless they had rapidly worsening symptoms (despite the fact that researchers suspect up to 47% of patients have few or no symptoms).

It’s almost as if Democrats’ complaints about severely limited testing supplies were a political ploy to bash the president that has now sown confusion, as most members of the public are probably still under the impression that tests are scarce and should be reserved for those who are obviously ill.

Meanwhile, earlier this morning, the WHO’s Dr. Tedros pledged to deliver “transparency and accountability” on his organization’s handling of the pandemic, and insisted that the world must invest in the WHO to “strengthen” the organization, as it’s the only NGO that does what the WHO does, playing a critical role in the global health care system. Meanwhile, last night, Axios reported that Trump was leaning toward implementing the entirety of the previously-announced cuts to the US’s spending on the WHO, after saying on Saturday that the US might restore some funding.

In its latest act of aggression toward defiant American allies insisting on an investigation into the early days of the outbreak, China announced a new anti-dumping duty rate of 73.6% and anti-subsidy duty rate of 6.9% on barley imported from Australia, after “an investigation found Australian barley hurt the local industry,” according to China’s Ministry of Commerce. It’s just the latest sign of rising trade tensions related to the ‘China decoupling’ theme. Australia and the EU are joining the US in pushing for an investigation into the early days of the pandemic in China, something President Xi said he’d support a “comprehensive review” once the pandemic has been “controlled”. Few believe him, however, as China has grown more secretive and uncooperative about sharing information related to the early days of the outbreak.

With two weeks left in May, the pace of deaths across the US has slowed substantially, a reflection of the progress made by the worst-impacted states like New York, Michigan, New Jersey, California and Washington State, and – importantly – a repudiation of the alarmist forecasts published by the NYT earlier this month calling for the rate of US COVID-19-linked deaths to hit 3,000/day. Yesterday, the US reported just 808 deaths (remember, these data are reported with a  24-hour lag) according to data provided by Johns Hopkins University.

As of Monday morning, the US had confirmed 1,486,742 cases (with thousands of patients likely going undiagnosed) and 89,564 deaths, placing it on track to surpass 90k deaths by the end of today.

Meanwhile, as outbreaks in Russia and Brazil continue to rage, both countries have officially counted hundreds of thousands of additional cases over the last 2 weeks. The two countries, which boast the No. 2 (Russia) and No. 4 (Brazil) highest ‘official’ case counts in the world, are approaching the problem from different angles: In Russia, President Putin is ratcheting up lockdown and social distancing measures, while Brazil – under President Jair Bolsonaro, who has dismissed the virus as “a little flu” – continues to reopen its economy to the consternation of its neighbors.

Meanwhile, according to another Reuters report, beautiful summer weather across the northern hemisphere is enticing millions of people in virus ‘hot spots’ from NYC to the mediterranean coasts of Italy and Spain to visit public parks and beaches, making them the primary centers of recreation in the COVID era.

Most cities and towns have adopted new precautions to prevent the virus from spreading. Many individuals are choosing to keep their distance and wear masks. Greeks flocked to beaches on Saturday as more than 500 beaches reopened, coinciding with temperatures of 34 Celsius (93.2 Fahrenheit).

In Brooklyn’s Domino Park, white circles were painted on the lawn to help sunbathers and picnickers keep a safe distance. About half the people in the park appeared to be wearing some form of face covering as they congregated in small groups on a warm Saturday afternoon, as cops in masks kept watch.

In Italy, many restaurants, bars and cafes have reopened now that Italy has seen daily deaths drop to levels not seen since the early days of the pandemic.