Apr 10, 2020 - Health

Easter poses major social distancing test

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

This Sunday will be America's biggest test yet for whether people can social distance long enough to flatten the coronavirus curve.

Why it matters: Glimmers of hope in New York and San Francisco aren't a license to mingle. For many families, the holiday could pit relative against relative over how seriously to take social distancing on one of the biggest family gathering days of the year.

The big picture: Thousands of Americans died from coronavirus this week, and New York has more cases than every country outside the U.S.

  • The city's first wave of infections appears to be flattening, and the nightmare scenarios have yet to play out in the U.S.
  • But lifting the lockdown "after just 30 days will lead to a dramatic infection spike this summer and death tolls that would rival doing nothing," the N.Y. Times reports, citing government projections.
  • Countries previously considered success stories have been forced to impose new lockdowns, including Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan.

Easter Sunday is a high-attendance day for Christian churches, and many other families plan gatherings around the secular edition.

  • Pews will be empty this year, and Easter egg hunts will be limited to parents and children.
  • Jewish families felt their own pain earlier this week, sparking a wave of virtual Passover Seders.

Between the lines: Group gatherings, including religious events and family celebrations, appear to be a major contributor to community spread, Axios' Marisa Fernandez reports.

  • Local outbreaks stemmed from joyful celebrations among ultra-Orthodox Jews in New York, a quinceañera in central Nebraska and a 70s-themed party for local politicos at Trump National Golf Club, Los Angeles, the Washington Post reports.
  • Funerals in Chicago and Georgia have also been identified as the source of major outbreaks.

One indicator people may be keeping their distance: Customers have been buying less food for their family gatherings.

  • A restaurant owner in Rayne, Louisiana said the volume of crawfish sales have dramatically decreased for annual crawfish boils, The Advocate reports. 

The bottom line: Lockdowns won't lift "until we know this country is going to be healthy," President Trump said today.

  • "We don’t want to go back and start doing it over again, even though it would be in a smaller scale.” 

Go deeper

Updated 6 hours ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

Florida reported on Wednesday its largest number of new novel coronavirus cases in a single day since April 17. 1,317 people tested positive to take the state total to 58,764, per the state's health department. Despite the rise, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said bars and clubs could reopen on Friday.

By the numbers: More than 107,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus and over 1.8 million people have tested positive, per data from Johns Hopkins. More than 479,000 Americans have recovered and over 18 million tests have been conducted.

Coronavirus hospitalizations keep falling

Data: COVID Tracking Project, Harvard Global Health Institute; Note: Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, Tennessee and Puerto Rico have not reported hospitalizations consistently. Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 continues to decline, particularly in New York and other northeastern states that were among the hardest hit by the virus.

Yes, but: Some states are still recording stagnant or rising amounts of hospitalizations.

Trump's troubles grow, spread

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Trump is confronting the most dire political environment of his presidency, with his support dropping fast from Texas to Wisconsin, even among his base of religious and older voters. 

Why it matters: Top Republicans tell Axios that Trump's handling of the nation's civil unrest, including his hasty photo op at St. John's Church after the violent clearing of Lafayette Park, make them much more worried about his chance of re-election than they were one week ago.