‘Covid Conundrum’: NBC Reports That Fewer Cases In States With Less Restrictions Has Health Officials ‘Scratching Their Heads’


Brandon Gillespie Media Reporter
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NBC reporter Sam Brock pointed to an apparent “contradiction” on Thursday in the number of new coronavirus cases states are seeing based on their level of restrictions, with states recently lifting restrictions seeing the “biggest” drop in cases.

Brock reported on “The Today Show” that states with the “strictest measures” were alternatively seeing an increase in cases, and offered possible theories to explain the “Covid conundrum.” (RELATED: CNN’s Sanjay Gupta Blasts Georgia’s Lifting Of Remaining Coronavirus Restrictions: ‘So Much Of This Doesn’t Need To Happen’)

Co-host Craig Melvin began by stating that trends in coronavirus cases across the country have health officials “scratching their heads.” Co-host Savannah Guthrie added that some states with more restrictions are seeing surges, and states that have reopened are seeing “sizable drops.” The hosts then turned to Brock, who reported on the discrepancy from Florida.

Brock began by explaining that Florida has only seen a “modest uptick” in cases, and that Georgia, Mississippi, Texas, and Arkansas, states with more “lax rules,” were seeing double-digit drops in cases. He added that cases were on the rise in the Northeast, including most of New England.

“What might explain the apparent contradiction? One theory, differences in testing rates. Alabama has experienced one of the biggest dips in reported infections, more than 50% in two weeks, but it’s also dead last in the U.S. for Covid testing, only 56 tests per hundred thousand people,” Brock continued. “That’s a fraction of what you’ll find in places like Vermont, Massachusetts and New York where numbers are surging.”

He then played a clip of Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease expert from Florida International University, stating that if tests aren’t being conducted, then you have a “false sense” of how real the problem could be in the community.

“Another theory? Covid fatigue. In Michigan where people are just coming out of lockdown for the first time in months, cases are up more than a 100% as demographics shift,” Brock said, before playing a clip of Michigan Dr. Vineet Chopra saying that the current wave is consisting of people in between the ages of 30 and 60 who aren’t yet vaccinated.

Brock went on to say that Texas, which reopened early in March, allowed 40,000 people into the Texas Rangers stadium for a baseball game. He then played a clip of Texas Dr. Neil Gandhi saying that many people in Texas have already been exposed to the coronavirus, and therefore have the antibodies already inside them.

“That leads us to the risky behavior we’ve seen in places like Miami Beach, Florida, where numbers have only increased slightly, and theory number 3, that young people are acting as carriers, as doctors say they are returning to other states taking the virus with them,” Brock continued. “Bottom line. Health experts say the falling figures in the South might be giving a false sense of security.”

Guthrie then asked Brock what roles the variants could be playing, to which he responded they were playing “a significant role.”

“Michigan … has a very high prevalence of the U.K. strain. That’s also true of states like Minnesota. Both of them have seen cases skyrocket,” Brock concluded. “There are outliers as well. In Florida … there are more documented cases of the U.K. strain here than any other state in the country by far. And yet so far a 17% increase in the last two weeks. Very small compared to some of these other states.”