ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) – Alarming peaks in coronavirus cases in the south and west arouse fears Monday that the outbreak is getting out of hand and the hard-won progress slips against the pest due to many Americans’ resistance to masks and distance from others .
Predictions confirm that easing state closures in the past month and a half could lead to a comeback by the virus, more than 100,000 cases in Florida, more hospitalizations in Houston, and a surprising 1 in 5 of those tested in Arizona prove infected turn into.
Over the weekend, the virus seemed to be everywhere at once: six staff members who helped set up President Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma tested positive, as did 23 Clemson University footballers in South Carolina. At least 30 members of the Louisiana State University team were isolated after becoming infected or interacting with someone who was. Meat packaging companies were also hit by outbreaks.
‘It’s snowing. We will definitely see more people die as a result of this spike, ”says Dr. Marc Boom, CEO and President of Houston Methodist Hospital, notes that since Memorial Day, the number of hospitalizations for COVID-19 has tripled to more than 1,400 in total eight hospital systems in the Houston metropolitan area.
He predicted that hospitals could become overwhelmed in three weeks, and begged people to cover their faces and distance themselves.
“It is possible to open up at a sensible pace and coexist with the virus, but it takes millions and millions of people to do the right thing. Right now we don’t have that “because people have let their guard down,” said Boom.
Texas is among a number of states – including Arizona, Alabama, Florida, and South Carolina – whose governors have opposed statewide mask requirements and left the matter to local authorities.
The number of recently confirmed coronavirus cases across the country per day has reached more than 26,000, up from about 21,000 two weeks ago, according to an Associated Press analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. More than 120,000 deaths in the United States are attributed to the virus, the highest death toll in the world.
In Orlando, 152 cases of coronavirus were linked to a bar near the campus of the University of Central Florida, said Dr. Raul Pino, a state health official in the resort town.
“A lot of transfer happened there,” said Pino. “People are very close. People don’t wear masks. People drink, scream, dance, sweat, kiss and hug, everything that happens in bars. And all those things that are happening are not good for COVID-19. ‘
Although he had asked health officials to re-summon people to wear masks and keep their distance, Governor Ron DeSantis has not signaled that he will withdraw to reopen the state after three months of shutdowns that have damaged the economy.
In Louisiana, Governor John Bel Edwards weighed in whether he would continue to release restrictions amid a spike in cases. Some companies are closed again due to infections among employees or regular customers. And a cluster of bars near LSU reported that at least 100 customers and employees had tested positive.
Countries such as Brazil, India and Pakistan are also seeing rising cases.
Dr. World Health Organization chief Michael Ryan said the outbreak in the United States and a number of other countries is “definitely accelerating,” rejecting the idea that the daily record numbers of new cases simply reflect more testing. He noted that in many countries, hospital admissions and deaths have increased significantly.
“The epidemic is now peaking or peaking in some major countries,” he warned.
In the United States, Arizona in particular sees troubling trends in several benchmarks, including the percentage of tests that prove positive for the virus. Arizona is the highest in the nation.
The state’s positive test rate is at a seven-day average of more than 20%, well above the national average of 8.4% and the 10% level that is a problem, according to public health officials. When the positive test rate goes up, it means an outbreak is getting worse – not just more people being tested.
At the Fort Washington Medical Center in Maryland on the outskirts of the nation’s capital, workers described a struggle to find new beds, heartbreaking encounters with family members of critically ill patients, and their frustration with Americans who don’t believe the coronavirus threat is real.
Everyone is lounging on the beach. I just think it’s over. And it isn’t, “said respiratory therapist Kevin Cole. “It is far from over. And unfortunately it is those people who keep this pandemic going.”
Meanwhile, New York City, once the deadliest hotspot in the US, has lifted more of its restrictions and brought a big step closer to normal. Restaurants can serve outdoor dinners, customers can browse shops and get a haircut, and kids can return to playgrounds.
Eve Gonzalez, a 27-year-old food industry worker in New York whose job had not yet resumed, said it was too early, “I would like to go out, but people’s health is more important.”
In Illinois, museums, gyms, and zoos can reopen on Fridays with restrictions. Indoor dining can be resumed at 25% capacity, and some places, such as the Lincoln Park Zoo, require reservations.
Globally, according to Johns Hopkins, 9 million people have been confirmed to be infected by the virus and about 470,000 have died, although experts say the actual numbers are much higher due to limited tests and cases where patients had no symptoms.
Amid the global wave, the head of WHO warned that world leaders should not politicize the outbreak, but unite to fight it.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, criticized by President Donald Trump, said during a video conference for the Dubai-based World Government Summit that it took the world more than three months to see 1 million confirmed infections, but only eight days to see the most recent. see 1 million cases.
Tedros did not name Trump by name or his determination to pull the United States out of the UN health service, but warned, “The biggest threat we are facing right now is not the virus itself; it is the lack of global solidarity and global leadership. “He added, ‘We can’t beat this pandemic with a divided world.’
Trump has criticized WHO for its early response to the outbreak and what he considers China’s excessive praise where the outbreak began, although his own government’s approach to the crisis in the United States has been attacked. Trump has threatened to freeze US funding for the WHO.
Companies around the world are racing to find a vaccine, and there is a fierce debate about how to ensure it is fairly distributed. WHO Special Envoy for COVID-19, Dr. David Nabarro said he believes it will take “2.5 years for everyone in the world to have a vaccine.”
Brazil, with more than 50,000 deaths, the second highest number in the world, recorded a record 54,000 new cases of coronavirus in its last one-day count. And nearly 1 in 3 people tested have shown positive, according to WHO’s Ryan, who said the amazingly high number suggests cases are not reported or go unnoticed due to a low number of tests.
The health care system in India has been slammed by the virus. The caseload in the impoverished country of more than 1.3 billion people increased by nearly 15,000 to more than 425,000 on Monday, with more than 13,000 killed.
After the Indian government simplified the shutdown of the entire country, special trains ran in recent weeks to return thousands of migrant workers to their hometowns.
In Pakistan, infections are on the rise and hospitals have to reject patients, with new cases reaching 6,800 a day. The government has eased its coronavirus restrictions in hopes of saving an almost collapsed economy in the country of 220 million people.
Associated Press journalists from around the world contributed.
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