Why could Trump’s focus on falling death rates be dangerous?

Ducey said Thursday that the spread rate in her state is “unacceptable” and paused further reopening.

“We expect our numbers to be worse next week and the week after,” Ducey said. “There is no consideration of increasing activity. Arizona is on hiatus. “

In Utah, Governor Gary Herbert announced Wednesday that he would not consider lifting more blocking restrictions for at least two weeks.

“All Utahns should be concerned about rising infection rates,” said Herbert. “They should be concerned with what it does to our hospital capacity.”

Herbert cautioned that crowded hospitals can quickly overwhelm healthcare workers. “We have a more limitation on staff than on bed space,” he said.

Louisiana Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards keeps occupancy limits on public spaces in place for at least another month, because the average number of new daily infections has increased approximately 50 percent this month and hospitalizations are increasing in various parts of its state.

“We are simply not ready to move to the next phase, and tighten the restrictions even more as companies open up widely,” he said, adding that 90 percent of new cases come from the community, not from congregated settings. like nursing homes or jails.

But other governors have kept a focus on the death rate to justify the advance, even as infections increase.

“The most important piece of information is the death rate,” Republican Tennessee Governor Bill Lee said Tuesday, after bragging that his state is the best when it comes to recovering hotels and restaurants.

It is not the first time that lawmakers have changed the rationale to justify their actions. When the blockades were first lifted in early May, some governors who ignored the White House’s criteria for a safe reopening reported declining cases in their states. When new infections began to rise, they said it was safe to proceed because hospitals had plenty of room to treat patients.

The shift to the death rate further alarms public health officials who fear it is distracting the public from taking the necessary precautions and allowing elected officials to make difficult decisions.

“They are grabbing straws to try to explain this,” said Jeffrey Shaman, an infectious disease researcher at the Columbia University School of Public Health. “We are looking at people who select margins for explanations to deny that we are seeing an increase.”

The Trump administration has always expected cases to rise as tests improve and economic activity resumes, and was betting that Americans would trade a certain number of deaths if that meant going back to work. Trump touted higher stock prices and a better-than-expected job report, while 20,000 new infections a day became common.

But the new threat in places like Arizona and Texas has changed the calculation, said Catherine Lutz, a professor of anthropology at Brown University.

“Stress in the healthcare system has brought it back to normal,” he said. “I do not know if [governors] I would have hit the brakes if we could have handled it in our healthcare system. ”

The exponential spread of the virus, particularly through the Sun Belt, has also stirred perceptions of what the nation is willing to accept.

“It doesn’t have to be a large number of people to say this is not right,” said Lutz. “People interpret the number as too much if there is something that can be done to avoid it.”