Co-Creator of The COVID Tracking Project on the Recent Surge in COVID-19 Cases

“We have vaccines on the horizon, but we have to get there,” says Alexis Madrigal on the current state of the pandemic.

States and communities across the country are experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases. Significant community spread and a stark rise in hospitalizations have instigated some cities and states to implement lockdown measures and other restrictions. As the holidays approach and with several efficacious vaccines on the horizon, America has reached a complicated point in the pandemic.

Listen: How states are responding to the surge in COVID-19 cases. 


Alexis Madrigal is a staff writer at The Atlantic, a co-founder of the COVID Tracking Project, and the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. He says the most recent surge in COVID-19 cases started in the Dakotas and Wisconsin, with case numbers as bad as springtime. Outbreaks then began to spread to surrounding states, with the majority of the country now experiencing a surge in cases.

With little to no cohesive federal response, states and cities have been left to mitigate the virus on their own, leading to a piecemeal strategy. “It’s really tough to fight a pandemic like this on a state by state basis,” says Madrigal, adding, “There are official state policies and then there’s just what happens, from my perspective one of the great failures of Trump’s administration was basic public health methods getting politicized.”

Some are finding hope in the announcement of two potential effective vaccines. Madrigal warns that while the potential for vaccines is promising, widespread vaccination is still months away and the logistics of distribution still needs to be worked out.” Logistics are going to be extremely complicated. The US is pretty good at logistics, but it takes time to produce [all of these] vaccines… we’ll see more and more people get vaccinated,” says Madrigal.

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