The Atlantic Daily: Another Coronavirus Bump Might Be Inevitable

Posted by on July 8, 2021 7:30 pm
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Coronavirus cases in the United States remain blissfully low, but the country is no longer setting new floors every week. Yesterday, the seven-day average of cases was more than a third higher than it was two weeks ago, according to New York Times data.

Should you panic? If you’re vaccinated, probably not. But it’s worth remembering that the country’s recent plateau may not last forever.

Don’t overthink the uptick.

Case numbers fluctuate because of reporting quirks, particularly around holidays. “We would definitely want to see a few more days’ worth of data before even thinking about calling it a surge,” my colleague Ed Yong told me.

But do expect cases to rise in the future.

Three things are happening at once, Ed explained: The virus is getting more transmissible, vaccination is stalling, and people have let their guard down. Some kind of bump is “almost inevitable.”

Keep taking precautions.

The biggest one: If you aren’t vaccinated, getting the shot is the best way you can protect yourself. If you are, continue to take steps to mitigate your risk, and remember that breakthrough cases are rare but possible.

Look to the South as a bellwether for the fall.

Ed said that a lot of the experts he’s spoken with are concerned about the fall. “If we start seeing big spikes in southern states, and especially given that many of them have not done that well in terms of vaccination, that would certainly increase my concern about the shape of the fall and winter.”


Black and white profile of Jovenel Moise, Haiti's assassinated president
Leigh Vogel / Getty

The news in three sentences:

(1) Haiti is in a state of political turmoil after the assassination of its president, which could strain the country’s relationship with the U.S. (2) Spectators were banned from this year’s Olympics in Tokyo because of COVID-19 concerns. (3) Two weeks after the condo collapse in Surfside, the response effort has shifted from rescue to recovery.

What to read if … you don’t understand why all these billionaires are going to space right now:

Both Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos are busy preparing for launch this month. Branson plans to take off this Sunday.

“Could there be a worse time for two über-rich rocket owners to take a quick jaunt toward the dark?” the science writer Shannon Stirone asks.

Tonight’s Atlantic-approved activity:

A viral “Jesus TV show” is a must-see, a Christian and a critic says.

A break from the news:

End your day with a dose of Emersonian philosophy. Arthur C. Brooks’s latest column interrogates the link between self-reliance and well-being.


Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox.

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