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 per day in the United States stood near an all-time high Thursday, hovering close to the peak 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.

The 34,300 COVID-19 cases recorded Wednesday were slightly fewer than the day before, but still near the high of 36,400 reached on April 24, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

As the virus rises again in the U.S. and other parts of the world, some governments and businesses imposed new restrictions only weeks after lifting shutdowns, even as others areas loosened up.

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

“There are no magic answers. There are no spells here. You can’t divine this away,” World Health Organization emergencies chief Dr. Michael Ryan said. “We have to act at every level.”

In the U.S., where governors and other politicians have tried to strike a balance between the health risks and the threat to the economy, the number of workers applying for unemployment benefits last week declined slightly to 1.48 million, indicating layoffs are slowing but are still painfully high.

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.

Several states set single-day case records this week, including Arizona, California, Mississippi, Nevada, Texas and Oklahoma. Some of those states also broke hospitalization records, as did North Carolina and South Carolina.

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

In an encouraging sign, as of last week the number of deaths per day in the U.S. overall was actually declining, not rising in lockstep with new cases. Experts said that could reflect improved efforts by nursing homes to prevent infections, as well as the advent of effective treatments.

Also, a growing share of the new cases are among young people, who are more likely than older ones to survive a bout with the virus.

The virus has been blamed for over 120,000 U.S. deaths — the highest toll in the world — and more than 2.3 million confirmed infections nationwide. On Wednesday, the widely cited University of Washington computer model of the outbreak projected nearly 180,000 U.S. deaths by Oct. 1.

WATCH | Research suggests COVID-19 immunity may only last a few months:

A new study on COVID-19 immunity has found that people who were asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic had their antibodies diminish within two to three months. Though larger studies are needed, the findings cast doubt on antibody testing and herd immunity. 2:01

The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut announced that their states, which were devastated by early outbreaks that appear to be under control, will now require travellers from certain states with high infection rates to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

Some states are moving to ensure more consistent use of face masks and other anti-virus measures.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper ordered people to wear masks in public as the daily count of hospitalizations and new cases hovered near records. In Florida, several counties and cities recently enacted mask requirements.

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

Dr. Peter Hotez, an infectious-disease expert at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, said he worries that states will squander what time they have to head off a much larger crisis.

“We’re still talking about subtlety, still arguing whether or not we should wear masks, and still not understanding that a vaccine is not going to rescue us,” he said.

What’s happening with COVID-19 in Canada

WATCH | Patios, haircuts return to Toronto with Phase 2 reopening:

Toronto and the neighbouring Peel Region have moved to Phase 2 of reopening, with restaurant patios, malls, barber shops and hair salons able to resume business. 1:59

As of 2 p.m. ET on Thursday, there were 102,572 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases in Canada, with 65,361 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.

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 12:13:16 +0000