U.S. COVID-19 cases rising at near-record rate as more jurisdictions urge mask use

U.S. COVID-19 cases rising at near-record rate as more jurisdictions urge mask use

The latest:

The number of new coronavirus cases reported per day in the U.S. stood at more than 34,000 Thursday, just short of the all-time high reached in late April during some of the darkest and deadliest days of the crisis.

While greatly expanded testing probably accounts for some of the increase, experts say other measures indicate the virus is making a comeback. Daily deaths, hospitalizations and the percentage of tests that are coming back positive for the virus have also have been rising over the past few weeks in parts of the country, mostly in the South and West.

Amid the disturbing new signs, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has pursued one of the most aggressive reopening schedules in the nation, began to backtrack. And Nevada’s governor ordered the wearing of face masks in public, Las Vegas casinos included.

The U.S. recorded 34,500 COVID-19 cases Wednesday, slightly fewer than the day before but still near the high of 36,400 reached on April 24, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University. The daily average has climbed by more than 50 per cent over the past two weeks, according to an Associated Press analysis.

A health-care worker administers a COVID-19 test in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday. (Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

Whether the rise in cases translates into an equally dire surge in deaths across the U.S. overall will depend on a number of factors, experts said, most crucially whether government officials make the right decisions. Deaths per day in the U.S. number around 600 after peaking at about 2,200 in mid-April.

“It is possible, if we play our cards badly and make a lot of mistakes, to get back to that level. But if we are smart, there’s no reason to get to 2,200 deaths a day,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, director of Harvard’s Global Health Institute.

But he warned: “We have consistently underestimated this virus.”

In the past few weeks, the nation’s daily death toll has actually dropped markedly even as cases climbed, a phenomenon that may reflect the advent of treatments, better efforts to prevent infections at nursing homes and a rising proportion of cases among younger adults, who are more likely than their elders to survive a bout with COVID-19.

Health workers conduct COVID-19 testing in Los Angeles on Thursday. (Ashley Landis/The Associated Press)

Several states set single-day case records this week, including Arizona, California, Mississippi, Nevada, Texas and Oklahoma.

The U.S. has greatly ramped up testing in the past few months, and it is now presumably finding many less-serious cases that would have gone undetected earlier in the outbreak, when the availability of testing was limited and sicker people were often given priority.

But there are other more clear-cut warning signs, including a rising number of deaths per day in states such as Arizona and Alabama. Some states, including North and South Carolina, also broke hospitalization records.

WATCH | Long lines at COVID-19 test sites in U.S.:

Traffic is seen at a standstill as drivers wait at drive-thru COVID-19 test sites in the U.S. 1:11

As cases grow, some states are imposing new restrictions only weeks after lifting shutdowns.

In Texas, Abbott reimposed a ban on elective surgery in the biggest counties to preserve hospital space after the number of patients statewide more than doubled in two weeks. Several Houston hospitals said they are adding beds.

Abbott also put on hold any further reopenings.

“The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses,” the Republican said. “This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread.”

A shopper wears a protective face mask in Houston on Thursday. (David J. Phillip/The Associated Press)

Nevada, which reported its biggest-ever increase in daily cases Thursday, joined a number of other states in instituting mask requirements in recent days.

“For Nevada to stay safe and stay open, we must make face coverings a routine part of our daily life,” Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak said.

Some businesses are also backing off reopening. Disney delayed its mid-July reopening of Disneyland until California gives further guidance.

The virus has been blamed for more than 122,000 U.S. deaths — the world’s highest toll — and more than 2.3 million confirmed infections nationwide.


What’s happening with COVID-19 in Canada

As of 3:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, there were 102,574 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases in Canada, with 65,362 of those listed by provinces and territories as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial data, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 8,539.


What’s happening with the rest of the world

Worldwide, more than 9.4 million people have been confirmed infected, and nearly a half-million have died, according to the Johns Hopkins count. Experts say the true infection numbers are much higher, in part because of limited testing.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expects the number of global cases to hit 10 million and the death toll from the disease to reach 500,000 by next week.

Speaking Thursday during a video conference with European Parliament members, Ghebreyesus said that although the crisis has improved across Europe, “globally, it’s still getting worse.”

WATCH | COVID-19 pandemic getting worse globally, WHO says:

The WHO’s director general says despite improvements in Europe, the COVID-19 situation is getting worse around the world, and he again defends China’s actions in the early days of the outbreak. 1:30

European nations appear on track to reopen their shared borders by July 1, and the European Union is considering barring American visitors, given the flare-up in the U.S. and President Donald Trump’s ban on Europeans entering the United States.

In Paris, meanwhile, the Eiffel Tower reopened to visitors for the first time Thursday after its longest-ever peacetime closure: 104 days.

“It’s very special, very special” because of the relative lack of tourists, said Annelies Bouwhuis, a 43-year-old visitor from the Netherlands.

People wearing protective face masks climb stairs as they visit the Eiffel Tower in Paris on Thursday. (Thibault Camus/The Associated Press)

In the Asia-Pacific, skyscraper-studded Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, ended a months-long nightly curfew.

With hospitals overwhelmed in New Delhi, Indian troops provided care at medical wards fashioned from railroad cars. And door-to-door testing is starting in Melbourne to control a hot spot there.

In China, where the virus first appeared late last year, an outbreak in Beijing appeared to have been brought under control. China reported 19 new cases nationwide amid mass testing in the capital.

A worker fumigates a residential area in Siliguri, India, on Thursday. (Diptendu Dutta/AFP via Getty Images)

In Africa, testing in the continent is expected to increase significantly in the coming weeks, the head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control said Thursday.

John Nkengasong pointed to a new continental platform that African nations set up to negotiate cheaper prices for urgently needed medical equipment amid intense global competition.

African leaders have said that China will ensure the supply of 30 million testing kits and 10,000 ventilators each month for purchase on the platform by Africa’s 54 nations. Each country has a quota based on its population and number of virus cases, and a line of credit is available.

About 4.3 million tests have been conducted in Africa, or about 3,200 tests per million people, far short of the ideal on a continent of 1.3 billion people.

A worker measures the body temperatures of people at a checkpoint in Bouaké, Ivory Coast, on Thursday. (Issouf Sanogo/AFP via Getty Images)

In the Americas, Peru said it had struck an agreement with the country’s private health clinics on the cost of COVID-19 care after President Martin Vizcarra warned on they would be expropriated within 48 hours if negotiations did not progress.

The clinics had for three weeks wrangled with Vizcarra’s government over a fair rate for care. The haggling began amid reports of overcharging for the sickest patients, who require mechanical ventilators and intensive care.

Peru’s coronavirus outbreak is second only to Brazil’s in Latin America, with 264,689 confirmed cases and 8,586 deaths. The pandemic has caused a deep economic crisis in the Andean country and brought its health system to the brink of collapse.

Published at Thu, 25 Jun 2020 19:00:59 +0000