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Over the last two weeks, American public health experts have again sounded the alarm bells about COVID-19. Following the novel coronavirus’s exponential spread on U.S. shores in March and the late-spring decline in case rates throughout the country, rates are back up again in most states, and in some regions, previous records are being shattered. On July 5, nationwide new case numbers broke a record for the 27th day in a row.
Whereas the first outbreak of COVID-19 in the U.S. took place in the Northeast, the virus is now spreading rapidly in the South and West, perhaps due to economic reopening plans in these areas. In the below states, COVID-19 cases are peaking especially strongly.
On July 5, Arizona confirmed 3,536 new cases of COVID-19. This number is down from July 1, when the state reported a record-breaking 4,878 new cases. COVID-19 cases in Arizona have risen at an average rate of 4.1 percent over the last seven days.
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego suggested that the state’s early reopening led to these rising rates. Gallego also faulted the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for failing to provide extra community-based testing infrastructure as statewide cases increased.
On July 4, Texas confirmed 8,258 new COVID-19 cases, setting the state’s daily record. On July 5, the state confirmed 3,449 new cases.
In an attempt to keep case rates low in late June, Texas Governor Greg Abbott reversed some of the state’s reopening rules. Bars were closed and restaurants were forbidden from operating at more than 50 percent their standard capacity. However, two South Texas counties have said that their hospitals have nevertheless already reached full capacity, setting the stage for a healthcare crisis similar to New York’s during the early stages of the pandemic.
On July 4 and 5, Florida confirmed a total of more than 20,000 new COVID-19 cases. The state reported 11,443 new cases on July 4 and 9,999 new cases on July 5. On three different days last week, the state reported more than 10,000 new cases, and the state’s total number of COVID-19 cases has now surpassed 200,000. Only New York, where case rates are mostly stable, and California, where case rates are spiking, have also exceeded 200,000 cases.
On July 5, California confirmed 5,410 new cases. The state saw COVID-19 hospitalizations increase by 51 percent during a two-week period at the end of June.
On July 1, California Governor Gavin Newsom largely rolled back the state’s reopening by closing bars and indoor dining in state regions with case spikes. Newsom also ordered that all indoor operations in zoos, movie theaters, museums, and wineries throughout the state be canceled. Some people have blamed Californians who have refused to wear face masks for the state’s new cases.
Why else might COVID-19 be spreading so rapidly?
Many people have pointed to states reopening too quickly as a prime factor in the ongoing COVID-19 case rate increases (some state officials have even agreed with these suggestions). Two additional factors may play a role in the new spikes: The virus may have mutated to become more contagious, and indoor airborne spread may be more serious than previously thought. Investigations into both possibilities remain ongoing.