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Sign of more to come in COVID-19?

Those who believe the COVID-19 crisis is declining or believe the pandemic is overblown need to peek inside what is happening at the Vidalia Mills manufacturing plant in Louisiana.

Workers and technicians are working furiously to hook up a new machine that will produce up to 100 masks per minute.

Company officials expect the machine to run 24 hours a day and be in production by the end of the month. Two additional machines are expected to arrive in the next few weeks to make higher grade masks and further expand the plant capacity to make personal protection equipment for doctors, nurses and hospital personnel from around the globe.

Plant officials say they have been contacted by dozens of hospitals, federal and state governments to place orders with Vidalia Mills for the PPE products.

The rush for orders suggests that the medical community and many in governments do not see the crisis as being over and may even fear new spikes in cases across the country. Both governors from Mississippi and Louisiana have recently sounded the alarm, suggesting that residents are not doing enough to prevent the disease from spreading.

Evidence suggests that many people are ignoring the signs, preferring to attend parties and other large gatherings. Mississippi officials pointed out Thursday that frat parties on the Ole Miss campus have been connected to an outbreak of virus cases in Oxford. State officials admit they are doing what they can to prepare for the next wave of cases, whenever that comes.

“But there’s no amount of preparation that can prepare for a tidal wave of cases,” State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said in a press conference Thursday. 

Orders of new masks may be beneficial to the local economy, but they may also be the canary in the coal mine warning that this crisis isn’t over yet — far from it.