Cities and states gradually eased lockdowns, more businesses reopened and retail sales surged. Those positive developments coincided with a steady rise in the number of people who described news coverage of the outbreak as overblown, which is a worrisome sign of complacency.
The percentage of U.S. adults who said the coronavirus pandemic has been exaggerated rose to 38% this month, from 29% in April, according to a survey by Pew Research Center.
Its study found key differences in how political views affect opinions about coronavirus news, with Republicans more than three times as likely than Democrats to say the outbreak has been made a bigger deal than it really is.
Back in early April, the number of new cases surged to a daily high, though that number likely didn't reflect people who had the coronavirus and didn't realize it. The number of new cases steadily fell until the past few weeks, as data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show a huge jump that overtook the April high.
The increase likely reflects the broader availability of COVID-19 tests, while a more meaningful statistic is the death rate. Still, healthcare providers don't want to see hospitals overflow with new cases requiring intensive care, making the jump in new cases worrisome.
California, Texas and Florida in the past week ordered bars to close down again, determining they had become COVID-19 hot spots. The increase in cases demands greater diligence by the news media in covering the pandemic, especially since 86% of Americans say they continue to follow COVID-19 news, compared to 89% in mid-March, as Pew measured.