Observers are noting that some states are seeing a rise in coronavirus cases as they prepare to or begin to re-open businesses and lift stay-at-home orders.
New reports have shown that the virus may be starting to move out of big cities and metropolitan areas into surrounding suburbs and rural areas in some locations.
An analysis from William Frey at the Brookings Institution shows that two-thirds of Americans now live in areas considered high prevalence for the virus, with at least 100 diagnosed cases per 100,000 population.
“There is no doubt that COVID-19 has made its impact felt in ‘red states,’ especially over the past three weeks,” Frey said in an email to The Hill, noting that Midwestern and Southern states have seen their fastest spreads in smaller counties.
Shift from Northeast case concentration
The numbers show a shift from the Northeast, which had 83% of the high prevalence counties in late March but only has 2.3% right now.
It would only be natural for cases to spread to smaller and more rural counties as time goes on, but cases there are likely to be fewer because of the lack of population density.
Some states that have already reopened are not seeing a spike in cases, however. Georgia started reopening 15 days ago, including salons and tattoo parlors, but is seeing a continuing drop in new cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
In the U.S. overall, cases and deaths have been on a steady decline for several weeks, according to the CDC.
Polls showing less fear, more willingness to gather
Polls are also showing small changes in the way Americans feel about the virus, at least some aspects of it.
There has been about an eight percent drop in the number of people who fear a loved one getting infected with the virus, and about a 10% increase in those who are willing to gather with a small group of people.
42% of Americans said they were “very concerned” about a family member getting coronavirus, down from 50% last month. These numbers even take into account that 40% of Americans know someone with the virus, up from 26% last month.
74% of Americans still said that they avoided small gatherings in the past week in a poll taken between April 27 and May 3, but that number is down 10% from the week before. As time goes on, people are easing back into more normal activities while being careful to take safety precautions they feel will make them and other people safer.
As the economy languishes and people approach two months on lockdown in most states, fear about the virus is continuing to dissipate and people are beginning to venture out in places state executive orders allow. Some local governments are even taking matters into their own hands; when Pennsylvania’s governor was perceived to be dragging his feet in reopening some parts of the state, 11 counties said they were going to reopen on their own rather than wait for the governor’s blessing.