• Experts are now saying that the coronavirus pandemic will continue to ravage the United States until sometime in late 2021 or even early 2022.
  • The good news is that we should have coronavirus vaccines and other effective COVID-19 drugs long before then, but it will take quite some time before enough of the population is inoculated.
  • In the meantime, it’s crucial that we all continue to take basic precautions to slow the spread of the disease — and there are 12 states right now that are showing us what happens when people let down their guard.

We’re now eight months into the coronavirus pandemic and the good news is that a lot of positive things have happened over the course of 2020. Most people at this point seem to understand how dangerous COVID-19 can be, and we’ve all had to adapt as a result. Many experts agree that the big initial economic shutdown definitely helped the country slow the spread of the virus back in March and April when case numbers were skyrocketing. But they also agree that subsequent shutdowns aren’t necessary in most cases even though case numbers are still far too high for most people’s liking.

What changed between then and now? The answer is simple: we know far more about the novel coronavirus today than we did back in March. We know that it spreads mainly through droplets and aerosols expelled by infected people when they cough, sneeze, speak, or even just breathe. We also know that COVID-19 carriers can spread the disease even if they aren’t showing any symptoms. Most importantly, we know that face masks are extremely effective at preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus, and that hand hygiene and social distancing are crucial. Now, we can see exactly what happens when people stop wearing face masks and fail to take things like social distancing and handwashing seriously.

There is still plenty of resistance out there when it comes to wearing face masks, but we seem to be in a place now where people understand how important they are. It also helps that there are so many studies that prove the efficacy of face masks when it comes to slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus, as well as a slew of anecdotal evidence to show how effective masks really are. Remember the story of two infected hairdressers who serviced 140 clients but didn’t spread COVID-19 to a single one because everyone wore masks? Or how about the woman who spread the coronavirus to 56 people in a Starbucks, but didn’t infect a single Starbucks employee because they all wore masks?

We could go on and on, and we can also just look to Asian countries where face masks have been a part of everyday life for years. Countries like China and Japan were so quick to contain COVID-19 outbreaks due in no small part to widespread face mask use. And now we have several examples that help illustrate what happens when people don’t take face masks, hand hygiene, and social distancing seriously.

Everyone at this point should be familiar with the Covid tracker created by The New York Times. It takes data from a number of official sources and presents it in the most effective way we’ve seen. US states and territories are split into four main categories, with the screenshot above showing the “Where new cases are higher and staying high” category. Needless to say, the goal is to be in the “Where new cases are lower and staying low” category.

Focusing again on that dreaded “Where new cases are higher and staying high” category on The Times’ site, we need to draw attention to something quite scary that you should notice when you look at those graphs. It’s not just that new coronavirus case numbers are increasing in all those states, it’s that most of those states are setting new records for daily case counts. In 11 of the states and one US territory shown above, daily new coronavirus case numbers have never been as high as they are right now. Here’s the full list:

  1. North Dakota
  2. South Dakota
  3. Wisconsin
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Utah
  6. Arkansas
  7. Missouri
  8. Kansas
  9. Nebraska
  10. Montana
  11. Puerto Rico
  12. Minnesota

There are undoubtedly many factors that are contributing to the climbing case numbers in the regions above. But there’s also something to consider that is undeniable: wearing face masks, practicing social distancing, and washing your hands regularly work. In places where people forget that or refuse to accept it, COVID-19 spreads more freely. And if for some reason you still haven’t caught on to the fact that these simple measures are effective, we’ll leave you with the latest COVID-19 graph from New York. People in New York are wearing masks and practicing social distancing, so Covid case numbers are staying low despite the fact that the state is home to one of the most densely populated cities in the country.

Zach Epstein has worked in and around ICT for more than 15 years, first in marketing and business development with two private telcos, then as a writer and editor covering business news, consumer electronics and telecommunications. Zach’s work has been quoted by countless top news publications in the US and around the world. He was also recently named one of the world's top-10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes, as well as one of Inc. Magazine's top-30 Internet of Things experts.