Thursday, October 15, 2020

Update #1 From The Pandemic's Trailing Edge

 About a month ago, I told you that if it can work anywhere, it can work here.

I'm in Northwest PA, a rural/small town county with a little under 50,000 people. As of a month ago, we had about 70-ish confirmed cases. Schools re-opened, almost entirely face-to-face five days a week. 

Well, things have changed. Our confirmed case number has doubled in about five weeks. The norm was days with zero or one or two new cases; now we are having some days with double digits. 

In two of the local four high schools, this week we learned that there were two cases in each of two high schools. In each case, one student and one adult. One school has closed for two days for a round of deep cleaning; the other has reportedly sent 40-some students and staff into quarantine. 

If you're wondering why the responses are inconsistent, well, that's what you get when a pandemic hits at a time like now. There are no rules, and words don't mean anything, so local districts have to just figure it out themselves. At another local elementary school, a teacher has been sent home for fourteen days because her son was sent home from his school (a different one than the one where she teaches) with a fever. That determination was made by the school nurse. 

That situation highlights another feature of the area. There are four different school districts, but they share band and sports programs, and the students mix outside of school at places like local dance studios. Aggressive contact tracing might help, but the folks around here have been clear that nobody is going to get their personal private information, and if there's a vaccine they probably won't take that, either. 

Yes, this is Trump country (though based on signage, I'm guessing Biden will do better here than Clinton did four years ago), and they have plenty of unkind words for our democratic governor (who has his own communication problems because he still thinks like a CEO and not a politician). It is also a county that depends on exactly the kind of small business activity that the shutdowns have been hard on, though we have also been super-concerned about getting to play and watch high school sports. 

At any rate, since nobody is collecting information about anything, I promised I would report on the local situation so that you have one more batch of data points to follow. Right now, things are changing here. We'll see if it's a blip or the beginning of a bad trend.

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