Those ominous charts showing ever-higher mountains of coronavirus infections are now plunging downward in the United States.
The reasons for the decline are not entirely clear, but some factors stand out. First and foremost, the winter holidays brought people together and triggered a surge that is now abating. Relatedly, more mask-wearing and adherence to distancing and other measures after the holidays may be paying off. Yet the levels are still way too high. Daily new cases dipped to 66,824 this week, but that is still three times the rate of last June.
The pandemic is a struggle against the virus, but it is also a struggle against human nature. The American people have been through a year of unmitigated torment. The death toll is greater than the number of Americans killed in World War II. The sense of fatigue and exhaustion is everywhere. Businesses have been upended and shuttered. It is entirely human to long for a return to crowded coffee shops and church choirs, classrooms and stadiums, to be near family and friends without fear.
The signs are good. But no one should let down their guard. No one should declare victory. Not yet.