United States facing ‘serious problem’ as daily cases reach record high
The surge in new coronavirus cases is continuing in the United States with health officials reporting a record number of infections for the second day in a row.
It comes as America’s top infectious diseases expert warned the United States is facing a “serious problem” from a resurgent virus as the illness puts the brakes on reopening two of the country’s largest states.
America reported 45,330 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday – its largest single-day spike since the pandemic began. The number is 5000 more on its previous record the day before.
It takes the country’s total number of confirmed infections to 2.46 million, while deaths increased by 574 to reach an overall tally of nearly 125,000.
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RELATED: Texas closes bars as US daily cases hit all-time high
The new record comes amid fresh outbreaks in several southern and western states, including Florida, Texas, California, and Arizona, which account for nearly half of the new infections across the country.
Texas and Florida closed bars and reimposed other curbs on Friday as cases piled up.
“We are facing a serious problem in certain areas,” leading US immunologist Anthony Fauci said at the first briefing in two months by the White House’s coronavirus Task Force.
“The only way we’re going to end it is by ending it together,” he said of the outbreak.
The US has been recording more than 30,000 cases daily.
Texas had been among the most aggressive states in easing curbs, but its strategy has backfired with the nation’s second most populous state seeing several daily records in the number of new infections.
“It is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars,” said Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican ally of President Donald Trump.
As a result, bars will be required to close but may provide delivery and take-out.
Restaurants can remain open with 50 per cent capacity indoors, and outdoor gatherings of 100 people or more require local government approval.
Lina Hidalgo, the chief executive of Harris County, the most populous in Texas which includes the city of Houston, issued a stay-at-home advisory – though she does not have the authority to make it mandatory.
Florida meanwhile reported a record 8942 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, as well as 39 new deaths and 212 additional hospitalisations.
“We got into June and COVID kind of fell off the headlines,” Governor Ron DeSantis told reporters.
“I think people were naturally just wanting to get back into a normal swing of things.”
PENCE DEFENDS MASS RALLIES
Dr Fauci’s forthrightness at the task force briefing contrasted with Vice-President Mike Pence, who sought to reassure Americans the situation was not comparable to the height of the crisis in April.
“We’re in a much stronger place. The truth is we did slow the spread, we flattened the curve,” Mr Pence said.
In fact, the US graph of new cases has not assumed the bell shape seen in other countries – that is, the curve has not been flattened.
The vice-president did not wear a mask for the briefing. Face coverings have become a deeply polarised political issue, despite epidemiologists being broadly in favour.
Mr Pence also defended rallies held by US President Donald Trump in Oklahoma and Arizona last week, where crowds gathered indoors without many wearing masks or social distancing.
“The freedom of speech, the right to peacefully assemble is enshrined in the Constitution of the United States, and we have an election coming up,” he said.
OUTBREAK GETTING YOUNGER
The number of new cases are comparable to April’s peak, but the death rate has not returned to earlier levels.
This may be partly because it takes three to four weeks for the most sick individuals to die – but experts also think it’s because a higher proportion of younger people are getting infected.
Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that around two months ago, 27 per cent of US deaths were occurring from pneumonia, mainly linked to COVID-19, but that figure had since fallen to its baseline level of seven per cent.
In addition, doctors have learned how to manage the disease better.