Society

Texas governor Greg Abbott, look at this picture

Image of the Week: This haunting photograph was taken in a Texas hospital just as COVID-19 cases in the state surged after an aggressive reopening plan

Like the proverbial chain that is only as strong as its weakest link, a country is only as safe from COVID-19 as its most vulnerable residents. In the United States, those vulnerable areas have exploded in the last two weeks of June, crushing hopes of a saved summer. On July 1, the U.S. was bruised with a record-breaking number of new cases reported in a single day—55,220—led by the sunny states of Arizona, California, Florida and Texas. The image above, of a coronavirus patient clutching his chest, with ominous question marks beeping on the vitals monitor, was taken in one of the Lone Star State’s battered hospitals, which are inundated with traumatic scenes and overworked front-line staff. After a surge in hospitalizations, Texas hit pause on its reopening plans and its Republican governor, who optimistically stormed ahead with Phase 1 on May 1, slammed the breaks and ordered widespread mandatory masking across 20 counties. The data is startling, with new cases, deaths and testing-positivity rates continuing their relentless climb. Onlookers should feel nervous. Can being outdoors really slow the spread? Does weather really have any effect? Does wearing a mask make the difference? And most of all: Who’s really ready to reopen?