How the US is struggling, every day, to tame COVID-19 pandemic
The US recorded more than 60,500 new COVID-19 infections in the past 24 hours as the country's top infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci said that some states reopened too quickly, allowing the coronavirus pandemic to come roaring back.
More than 60,500 new COVID-19 infections were reported across the United States in the past 24 hours, setting a one-day record as weary Americans were told to take new precautions and the pandemic becomes increasingly politicised. The latest figure comes as the US top infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci said that some states reopened too quickly, allowing the coronavirus pandemic to come roaring back.
The latest total represents a slight rise from Wednesday, when there were 60,000 new cases, and marks the largest one-day increase by any country since the pandemic emerged in China last year. The US has now has over 3 million COVID-19 cases and 133, 291 deaths.
WHAT IS HAPPENING IN HARD-HIT STATES?
Florida on Thursday announced nearly 9,000 new cases and 120 new coronavirus deaths, a record daily increase in lives lost. Governor Ron DeSantis called the rising cases a "blip" and urged residents not to be afraid.
"I know we've had a lot of different blips," DeSantis said. "We're now at a higher blip than where we were in May and the beginning of June."Florida is one of the few states that does not disclose the number of hospitalized COVID patients. But more than four dozen Florida hospitals reported their intensive care units reached full capacity earlier this week.
California and Texas, the two most populous states, announced record increases in COVID deaths on Wednesday. California has seen cases and hospitalizations surge, even though it imposed one of the strictest lockdowns. After several lawmakers and staffers at the state Capitol in Sacramento were infected, lawmakers said the legislature would not return from summer break until July 27.
In Texas, a group of bar owners sued Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, saying his June 26 order closing them down violates the state constitution, the Dallas Morning News reported.
Michigan had 610 new cases of coronavirus reported, the highest daily case count reported since May.
North Carolina has 1,034 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, its highest mark for a day.
As infections rose in 41 of the 50 states over the last two weeks, Americans have become increasingly divided on issues such as the reopening of schools and businesses. Orders by governors and local leaders mandating face masks have become particularly divisive.
"It's just disheartening because the selfishness of (not wearing a mask) versus the selflessness of my staff and the people in this hospital who are putting themselves at risk, and I got COVID from this," said Dr. Andrew Pastewski, ICU medical director at Jackson South Medical Center in Miami.
"You know, we're putting ourselves at risk and other people aren't willing to do anything and in fact go the other way and be aggressive to promote the disease. It's really, it's really hard," he said.
Stephanie Porta, 41, a lifelong Orlando, Florida, resident, said only about half the shoppers at her grocery store wore masks, though that was more than she saw two weeks ago. "They're trying to make everything seem normal, when it's not. People are dying, people are getting sick. It's insane," she said.
Even as coronavirus infections crossed three million in the United States, mask-averse US President Donald Trump said that the country is neither closing nor planning to halt businesses again.
STATES LIKE FLORIDA REOPENED TOO QUICKLY: FAUCI
According to Dr Anthony Fauci: "There are some times when despite the guidelines and the recommendations to open up carefully and prudently, some states skipped over those and just opened up too quickly." Fauci said on Podcast-19, FiveThirtyEight's weekly podcast on COVID-19, that he thought in some respects Florida and Arizona's reopening plans have contributed to the uptick in cases in those states, CNN reported.
"Certainly Florida I know, you know, I think jumped over a couple of checkpoints," Fauci said. He had earlier said that states with spiking coronavirus cases still can contain them by pausing their reopening processes, rather than shutting down a second time.
Fauci said the range of people the virus affects -- from those with no symptoms to those who end up in intensive care or die -- makes the pandemic really difficult to get under control.
Four states that account for about 50% of new infections -- Arizona, California, Florida and Texas -- need to aggressively keep people socially distanced, including by closing bars and preventing crowds, he added.
Dr Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Thursday that keeping schools closed would be a greater risk to children's health than reopening them.
Governors in California, Florida and Texas have either ruled out forced business closures and quarantines or called them a last resort. But Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti warned he would impose a new stay-at-home order in two weeks if the latest surge did not ease.
The rise in infections also weighed on the stock market Thursday on fears of new lockdowns, which would take a toll on the economic recovery. The Dow and the S&P 500 ended down about 1%.
TRUMP STILL SEES HCQ DRUG PROMISING AGAINST COVID-19
The US President continues to see a malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, as a promising drug to be used to prevent infection with the coronavirus, the White House said, though the US Food and Drug Administration has said its efficacy and safety were unproven.
"The President has always said that he sees hydroxychloroquine as a very promising prophylactic but that every person should not take it unless they get a prescription from their doctor," White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said at a news conference.
Trump told reporters in May he had started taking hydroxychloroquine after two White House staffers tested positive for COVID-19. His doctor said last month that Trump had suffered from no side effects after a two-week course of the malaria drug, which can cause heart problems.
Earlier this week, another world leader, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, said he had tested positive for the virus and was taking hydroxychloroquine. He has pushed his government to make the drug widely available and has encouraged Brazilians to take it both to treat COVID-19 and to prevent it.