Coronavirus cases surge across US, throwing reopenings into disarray

Texas recorded more than 5,000 new cases in the past 24 hours, a record daily toll. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - Newly diagnosed cases of Covid-19 and other indicators of the pandemic's spread soared in hot spots across the US, driving city and state officials to consider slowing or reversing reopening plans.

Cases are surging in Texas, Florida, Arizona and in California, which on Tuesday (June 23) broke its record for new cases for the fourth day in the past week. Even in New Jersey, where numbers have been falling, Governor Phil Murphy warned that the transmission rate is "beginning to creep up".

Coronavirus cases in the US increased by 35,695 from the same time on Monday to 2.33 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. The 1.6 per cent gain was higher than the average daily increase of 1.3 per cent the past seven days. Deaths rose 0.7 per cent to 120,913.

California reported 5,019 new cases, its biggest daily jump, for a total of more than 183,000, according to state data. The state also hit a record 3,700 hospitalisations.

Arizona also broke its daily case record, adding nearly 3,600, according to tallies released on Tuesday, bringing the total to 58,179. The state also reported 42 deaths, raising the toll to 1,384.

In Florida, local leaders hurried to react to daunting statistics. Palm Beach County - where President Donald Trump makes his official residence - became the latest jurisdiction to mandate masks to fend off the surge, with county commissioners voting unanimously to approve the measure on Tuesday.

The state's 103,506 cases were up 3.3 per cent from a day earlier, compared with an average 3.8 per cent in the previous seven days. Seen on a rolling seven-day basis, Florida's new cases reached 23,397, the highest ever. Deaths reached 3,237, an increase of 2 per cent, the most on a percentage basis since June 5.

Cumulative hospitalisations of Floridians rose by 199, or 1.5 per cent, to 13,318. On a rolling seven-day basis, they reached 1,112, the highest level since May 25. The new rate of people testing positive for the first time climbed to 10.9 per cent for Monday, from 7.7 per cent on Sunday.

Texas recorded more than 5,000 new cases in the past 24 hours, a record daily toll, Governor Greg Abbott said during an interview with KTBX television on Tuesday. Despite the surge, the Republican leader of the second-most populous state said that he has no intention of reimposing an economic lockdown at this time, and that schools will reopen as planned in late summer.

The state health department reported 5,489 new cases, bringing the total to 120,370. That represented a 4.8 per cent increase, well in excess of the 3.7 per cent seven-day average. Hospitalisations, meanwhile, surged more than 10 per cent to 4,092.

The 381 new admissions were the biggest daily increase since the pandemic emerged.

In Harris County - home to Houston and the nation's third-most populous county - intensive-case capacity will be exhausted in 11 days, based on the two-week average expansion rates. Surge beds will be full in 38 days, according to Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo's office.

There are 1,488 Covid-19 patients in ICU beds across the county, leaving only 134 intensive-case beds available and another 326 surge beds in reserve.

Covid-19 transmission is also ticking up in New Jersey, Murphy said on Tuesday, just as the state begins to open after months on lockdown.

The transmission rate - which measures how many people a carrier infects - was at 0.75 on June 18 and has now hit 0.81, state data show. Murphy said intensive-care cases and ventilator use were also on the rise.

The increases were for a single day, he said, but we "cannot have a one-day increase turn into a trend".

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