New coronavirus infections across the United States almost doubled last week with 31 states reporting an uptick in cases – as Arizona became the latest hot spot to reverse its reopening by closing bars and gyms.
COVID-19 cases across the US increased by 46 percent in the week ending June 28, compared to the previous seven days, with the majority of rises in the West and South of the country.
Nationally, new cases have consistently spiked every week for four straight weeks. Daily cases have been increasing to record highs of 40,000 in the past week – well above the initial surge of infections that were seen back in mid-April.
Infections across the US have now surpassed 2.58 million and more than 126,000 Americans have died since the virus took hold in March.
Infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci on Tuesday warned that the US was ‘going in the wrong direction’ with the pandemic and said cases could soar to 100,000 per day if current behaviors remain in place.
President Donald Trump has put the surge in new cases down to increased testing and has pointed to low death rates across the country as a sign that the pandemic is not out of control.
While part of the 46 percent increase in cases in the past week can be attributed to a 9 percent expansion in testing over that time frame.
While cases continues to spike, deaths are showing a downward trend across the country. Arizona, Virginia, Alabama, Kentucky, Florida and Tennessee were the states that saw the largest increases in deaths in the past week.
COVID-19 cases across the US increased by 46 percent in the week ending June 28, compared to the previous seven days, with the majority of rises occurring in the West and South of the country
In Arizona, deaths increased by 62 percent after recording 249 new fatalities in a week, bringing the death toll to 1,588.
Health officials have warned, however, that the death rate could potentially shoot back up again because fatality rates often lag behind infection rates.
They also point to the current trend of young adults making up the majority of new cases.
Officials say people under 35 years old have been going to bars, parties and social events without masks, becoming infected and then spreading the disease to older, more vulnerable people.
With about 40,000 new cases being reported a day, Dr Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, told Congress he ‘would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around’.
‘I am very concerned,’ he said, adding that areas seeing recent outbreaks are putting the entire nation at risk, including areas that have made progress in reducing COVID-19 cases.
He cited recent video footage of people socializing in crowds, often without masks, and otherwise ignoring safety guidelines.
In the past week, Florida, Louisiana, Idaho and Washington state have seen new infections more than double, according to a Reuters analysis of data from The COVID Tracking Project.
In response to the new cases, Louisiana and Washington have temporarily halted the reopening of their economies, with Washington also mandating the wearing of face masks in public.
Florida ordered all bars to close on Friday and has shut down beaches ahead of the July 4 holiday weekend.
Arizona’s Republican governor Doug Ducey followed on Monday by ordering all bars, gyms, movie theaters and water parks to close for at least 30 days.
The state’s cases increased 29 percent in the last week after reporting several record daily increases in cases.
Arizona health officials reported 4,682 more confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday – the most reported in a single day in the state so far and the eighth time in the past 10 days that daily cases surpassed the 3,000 mark.
Most Arizona bars and nightclubs opened after the governor’s stay-at-home and business closure orders were allowed to expire in mid-May.
Large crowds of young people were spotted out as recently as Saturday tubing on Arizona’s Salt River and about 3,000 students crowded together last week for an indoor rally in Phoenix with President Trump.
‘Our expectation is that next week our numbers will be worse,’ Ducey said, as he also ordered public schools to delay the start of classes until at least August 17.
Arizona is not alone in its reversal with Texas, Florida and California also backtracking, closing beaches and bars in most areas.
Nationally, 7 percent of diagnostic tests came back positive last week, which is up from 5 percent the prior week.
Twenty-one states reported positivity test rates above the level that the World Health Organization has flagged as concerning.
The WHO considers a positivity rate above 5 percent to be a cause for concern because it suggests there are more cases in the community that have not yet been uncovered.
Officials say that if a positivity rate is too high – above 5 percent – it could indicate that the state is only testing the sickest patients and not casting a wide enough net to see how much the virus is spreading.
Arizona’s positivity test rate was 24 percent last week, Florida’s was 16 percent, and Nevada, South Carolina and Texas’s were all 15 percent, according to the analysis.
It comes as deputy director of the CDC, Dr Anne Schuchat, said on Monday that the virus was now spreading too rapidly to control.
‘We have way too much virus across the country… it’s very discouraging,’ she told The Journal of the American Medical Association.
‘This is really the beginning. I think there was a lot of wishful thinking around the country that, hey it’s summer. Everything’s going to be fine. We’re over this and we are not even beginning to be over this. There are a lot of worrisome factors about the last week or so.’
ARIZONA: Large crowds of young people were spotted out as recently as Saturday tubing on Arizona’s Salt River. Arizona Gov Doug Ducey on Monday ordered all bars, gyms, movie theaters and water parks to close for at least 30 days
ARIZONA: About 3,000 mask less students crowded together last week for an indoor rally in Phoenix with President Trump
ARIZONA CASES: Arizona health officials reported 4,682 more confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday – the most reported in a single day in the state so far and the eighth time in the past 10 days that daily cases surpassed the 3,000 mark
ARIZONA DEATHS: Deaths in Arizona have been declining with 44 recorded on Monday
ARIZONA HOSPITALS: Arizona’s hospitals are nearing capacity with 2,721 positive or suspected COVID-19 patients admitted. On Saturday, 87 percent of ICU beds in the state were in use
Elsewhere across the country, leaders in several states have ordered residents to wear masks in public and have halted reopenings in a dramatic reversal amid the alarming surge in coronavirus cases.
Among those implementing the face-covering orders is the city of Jacksonville, Florida, where mask-averse President Donald Trump plans to accept the Republican nomination in August.
Trump has refused to wear a mask during visits to states and businesses that require them.
In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy announced on Monday that he’s postponing the restarting of indoor dining because people have not been wearing face masks or complying with recommendations for social distancing.
Indoor shopping malls were cleared to start business again in New Jersey on Monday.
Democratic governors in Oregon and Kansas said Monday that they would require people to wear masks. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s order will require people to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces starting Wednesday.
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said she will issue an executive order mandating the use of masks in stores and shops, restaurants, and in any situation where social distancing of 6 feet (2 meters) cannot be maintained, including outside. The order goes into effect Friday.
‘The evidence could not be clearer: Wearing a mask is not only safe, but it is necessary to avoid another shutdown,’ Kelly said.
TEXAS CASES: The number of daily infections were at 4,288 – down from the record 5,996 last Thursday
TEXAS DEATHS: Texas recorded 10 news deaths on Monday after spiking last Thursday and Saturday
TEXAS HOSPITAL: The state saw a record 5,913 new hospitalizations on Monday. Hospitalizations have been steadily increasing since mid-June
CALIFORNIA: New cases were at 5,307 in California on Monday, while daily deaths were at down 31
CALIFORNIA HOSPITALS: Hospitalizations in California have been on an upward trajectory with 4,776 people being treated on Sunday
In Texas, a group of bar owners sued on Monday to try to overturn Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s order closing their businesses. They contend Abbott doesn’t have the authority, and they complained that other businesses, such as nail salons and tattoo studios, remain open.
‘Gov. Abbott continues to act like a king,’ said Jared Woodfill, attorney for the bar owners. ‘Abbott is unilaterally destroying our economy and trampling on our constitutional rights.’
But Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that Abbott is on the right path, and he added that Trump should order the wearing of masks.
‘States that were recalcitrant … are doing a 180, and you have the same states now wearing masks,’ Cuomo said. ‘Let the president have the same sense to do that as an executive order, and then let the president lead by example and let the president put a mask on it, because we know it works.’
One of Cuomo’s Republican counterparts, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, on a conference call with Vice President Mike Pence and members of the White House coronavirus task force, also asked Pence and Trump to issue a national call to wear masks.
Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has opposed a statewide mask requirement but said in response to Jacksonville’s action that he will support local authorities who are doing what they think is appropriate.
Less than a week after Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said there would be no mask requirement, city officials announced on Monday that coverings must be worn in ‘situations where individuals cannot socially distance.’
Nearly one-third of COVID-19 patients in Houston’s ICU are now under 50 and health workers warn many are seriously ill and ‘feeling like death’ – as cases continue to spike among young adults across the country
Nearly one-third of COVID-19 patients being treated in intensive care units in Houston are now under the age of 50 – as cases continue to spike among young adults across Texas and health workers warn many are getting seriously ill.
During the first surge of cases in mid-April, the majority of patients being treated for coronavirus in the Houston Methodist hospital system were older than 50.
In a disturbing generational shift, about 60 percent of current patients are under that age bracket. Almost one in three who are now occupying ICU beds are also under 50.
The Houston Methodist hospital system is currently seeing a surge in COVID-19 patients. Houston Methodist CEO Dr Marc Boom told CNBC’s Squawk Box that the current surge had ‘completely flipped’ since the early stages of the pandemic
In Harris County, which covers much of Houston and is one of the largest counties in the county, the majority of COVID-19 cases are people aged between 30 to 39. The second most affected age bracket to 20 to 29 year olds
Infections are currently spiking among young adults in states like Texas where bars, nightclubs and restaurants reopened – prompting younger generations to start going out again, many without wearing masks.
While health experts have been warning that such behavior poses a bigger danger to older people who cross their paths, current trends in hospitalizations show that younger people do face the possibility of severe infection and death from COVID-19.
Houston Methodist CEO Dr Marc Boom told CNBC’s Squawk Box that the current surge had ‘completely flipped’ since the early stages of the pandemic.
He said about 40 percent of patients were under the age of 50 in mid-April and one in five were in ICU.
‘We are definitely seeing this affect young people and they’re getting quite ill,’ he said.
The Houston Methodist hospital system is part of the Texas Medical Center’s cluster of major public and private hospitals in the city.
Tritico Saranathan, a nurse in one of Methodist’s designated virus wards, told the New York Times she had noticed a difference in the age of patients compared to mid-April – and warned that many were ‘just feeling like death’.
‘We’re seeing a lot of people in their 30s – they’re out there partying and not wearing their masks,’ she said.
‘As soon as the city opened up, they were very eager to go to the bars, to the clubs, to the restaurants, just to hang out in groups. And no one was social distancing or wearing a mask.
‘What I’m seeing is that they’re pretty sick – the younger ones are pretty sick. They’re struggling a lot with respiratory issues. They’re having a hard time breathing.’
The Houston Methodist hospital system is part of the Texas Medical Center’s cluster of major public and private hospitals in the city. Hospitalizations across the city are on an upward trend
In the US, young people have quickly overtaken older adults as the group with the highest number of new coronavirus cases since the first states started reopening, according to AP figures
Health officials have described young people’s actions in states like Texas as irresponsible behavior as photos show packed bars and restaurants after the state lifted restrictions. Texas Governor Greg Abbott reversed that decision last Friday when he ordered all bars to close
Dr Faisal Masud, who is the medical director for critical care across all of Houston Methodist’s hospitals, said he had also noticed 30 to 35 years old being admitted.
He said the younger people who were severely ill tended to be obese or have health conditions like diabetes, kidney disease and high blood pressure.
‘I think that there was a sense of being invincible or this is not their problem, even if they caught it, no big deal,’ he said.
At Methodist, the majority of COVID-19 patients are currently in designated medical wards and not in intensive care. Health officials say that could be a result of the current surge in younger – and often healthier – patients.
As of Monday, there were a record 5,900 coronavirus patients in hospitals across Texas. Daily hospitalizations across the state have been consistently increasing since mid-June.
There are 1,400 ICU beds available across the states and just over 5,600 ventilators.
In Harris County, which covers much of Houston and is one of the largest counties in the county, the majority of COVID-19 cases are people aged between 30 to 39.
The second most affected age bracket to 20 to 29 year olds.
Health officials have described young people’s actions in states like Texas as irresponsible behavior as photos show packed bars and restaurants after the state lifted restrictions.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott reversed that decision last Friday when he ordered all bars to close.
It comes as some Texas hospitals have been warning they are running out of ICU beds for COVID-19 patients.
The Texas Medical Center system had created a COVID-19 ‘war room’ to handle a 66 percent surge in additional ICU patients with strategies including reassigning staff, putting beds closer together and using regular beds for emergency use.
They calculated last week that they would run out of space on July 6 if the current increase in Texas severe cases continues.
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