COVID-19 cases hit record highs in six US states as economies reopen
WASHINGTON DC (US) New coronavirus infections hit record highs in six US states on Tuesday, marking a rising tide of cases for a second consecutive week as most states are moving ahead by reopening their economies.
Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas all reported record spike in the number of new cases on Tuesday after touching all-time highs last week. Nevada also reported its highest single-day tally of new cases on Tuesday, up from a previous high on May 23. Hospitalisations are also rising or at record highs.
At Arizona’s Tucson Medical Center on Monday, just a single intensive care unit (ICU) bed designated for COVID-19 patients was available, with the other 19 beds filled, said a hospital representative.
“ICU to be expanded, hopefully, in coming days,” Dr Steven Oscherwitz, an infectious disease expert at the hospital, said in a tweet on Monday night. “Not sure where people needing ICU care will be able to go, since most AZ (Arizona) hospitals are pretty full now.”
Health officials in many states attribute the spike in cases to businesses reopening and Memorial Day weekend gatherings in late May. Many states are also bracing for a possible increase in cases resulting from tens of thousands of people protesting to end racial injustice and police brutality for the past three weeks.
OUTBREAK IN CHURCH
In Oregon, health officials are trying to contain the spread of an outbreak of over 200 new cases linked to the Lighthouse United Pentecostal Church in Union County.
A newspaper reported that a video on the church’s Facebook page on May 24 showed hundreds of believers standing close together singing. Large gatherings were not permitted under the state’s reopening plan at that time. The video has since been deleted, it said.
Reuters was not able to reach the church for comment.
In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott said the record number of new cases is due to more testing. Hospitalisations – a metric not linked to increased testing – also hit a record high. But the state has nearly 15,000 hospital beds available, Abbott said.
For the week ended June 14, testing increased over 30% but the positive rate held steady at 7%, a Reuters analysis showed.
Texas tested 674 out of every 100,000 residents last week, while about half of the 50 states tested at least 1,000 out of every 100,000 residents. New York led the nation, carrying tests on 2,245 out of every 100,000 residents, according to the analysis.
Top Texas health official John Hellerstedt said the increase was manageable but the situation could change.
“The possibility that things could flare up again and produce a resurgence of COVID-19,” which would stress the state’s healthcare system “is still very real,” Hellerstedt said.
‘WE ARE WINNING’
Across the United States, 17 states reported new cases last week, according to a Reuters analysis.
In Oklahoma, where President Donald Trump plans to hold an indoor campaign rally on Saturday, new cases rose 68%.
Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday said officials were considering other, possibly outdoor, venues for the Tulsa event.
On Tuesday, Oklahoma health officials urged anyone attending the rally to get tested before arriving and then to self-isolate following the event and undergo test again. The health commissioner urged those over 65 or at higher risk of coronavirus-related complications to stay home.
More than 2.1 million people have been infected with the coronavirus in the United States and over 116,000 have died from COVID-19, by far the most in the world.
(Photos syndicated via Reuters)
This story has been edited by BH staff and is published from a syndicated field