More than two months after the United States recorded its worst day of new infections since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the nation reached another grim milestone on Wednesday as it reported 36,880 new cases, according to a New York Times tally.
Cases in the United States had been on a downward trajectory after the previous high of 36,739 cases on April 24th, but they have roared back in recent weeks.
While newly confirmed infections have been declining steadily in early hot spots such as New York and New Jersey, several other states set single-day records this week, including Arizona, California, Mississippi, Nevada, Texas and Oklahoma.
The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut on Wednesday ordered travellers from eight other US states to be quarantined for two weeks on arrival, as Covid-19 infections surged in regions spared the brunt of the initial outbreak.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said the tough new tri-state quarantine mandate was “the smart thing to do”. At least four states are averaging double-digit rates of positive tests for the virus. By contrast, New York has been reporting positive test rates of around 1 per cent.
The virus has been blamed for over 120,000 US 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 deaths by October 1st.
California reported more than 7,100 new cases, an all-time high. Florida’s single-day count surged to 5,500, a 25 per cent jump from the record set last week and triple the level from just two weeks ago.
In Texas, which began lifting its shutdowns early on, on May 1st, hospital admissions have doubled and new cases have tripled in two weeks. Governor Greg Abbott said the state is facing a “massive outbreak” and might need new local restrictions to preserve hospital space.
In Arizona, emergency rooms are seeing about 1,200 suspected Covid-19 patients a day, compared with around 500 a month ago. If the trends continue, the state will probably exceed its hospital bed capacity within the next several weeks, said Dr Joseph Gerald, a University of Arizona public health policy professor.
“We are in deep trouble,” said Dr Gerald, urging the state to impose new restrictions on businesses, which governor Doug Ducey has refused to do.
North Carolina governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat, ordered people to wear masks in public as the daily count of hospital admissions and new cases hovered near records. In Florida, several counties and cities recently enacted mask requirements and cracked down on businesses that do not enforce social distancing rules.
Australia’s second most populous state deployed ambulances and mobile test centres in a coronavirus testing blitz as the country recorded the biggest daily rise in cases in two months.
Victoria state said 33 people tested positive for coronavirus in the past 24 hours, marking nine days of double digit new cases in the state. It has about 200 current cases out of a country total of 270.
Desperate to contain the outbreak, Victoria state premier Daniel Andrews said authorities are beginning a testing blitz across the 10 most effected suburbs.
“We have ambulances and other vans that will literally be at the end of people’s streets,” Mr Andrews told reporters in Melbourne.
“We will see these (case) numbers go up in coming days.”
Mr Andrews said about 100,000 tests will be conducted over the next 10 days.
Victoria’s efforts to contain the virus will be supplemented by about 1,000 Australian military personnel who are expected to arrive on Friday, Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said.
The bulk of the troops will assist with the mandatory 14-day quarantine of anyone who arrives in Australia, though Reynolds said about 150 personnel will also help the state’s testing programme.
The surge in new cases comes just weeks after Australia began easing social distancing restrictions, and authorities believe the increase in new cases stemmed from family get-togethers attended by people with mild symptoms.
Rest of World
But China appears to have tamed a new outbreak in Beijing, once again demonstrating its ability to quickly mobilise its vast resources by testing nearly 2.5 million people in 11 days. China reported 12 cases nationwide on Wednesday, down from 22 the day before.
In Europe, countries are easing or increasing restrictions as the outbreaks evolve.
John Nkengasong, chief of the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said the outbreak on the continent is “picking up speed very quickly” as more countries loosen lockdowns.
Worldwide, more than 9.4 million people have been confirmed infected, and close to half a million have died, according to the Johns Hopkins count. – Agencies