Florida shatters records with over 10,000 new COVID-19 cases in single day

By Lisa Shumaker

(Reuters) – Florida shattered records on Thursday when it reported over 10,000 new coronavirus cases, the biggest one-day increase in the state since the pandemic started, according to a Reuters tally.

Outbreaks in Texas, California, Florida and Arizona have helped the United States break records and send cases rising at rates not seen since April.

In June, Florida infections rose by 168% or over 95,000 new cases. The percent of tests coming back positive has skyrocketed to 15% from 4% at the end of May.

Florida, with 21 million residents, has reported more new daily coronavirus cases than any European country had at the height of their outbreaks.

To contain the outbreak, Florida has closed bars and some beaches but the governor has resisted requiring masks statewide in public or reimposing a lock-down.

Only one other state has reported more than 10,000 new cases in a single day. New York recorded 12,847 new infections on April 10, three weeks after the state implemented a strict lock-down that closed most businesses. While the state has relaxed many measures, it requires masks in public and mandates anyone arriving from 16 other U.S. states with high infections self-quarantine for two weeks.

Once the epicenter of the U.S. epidemic, New York saw cases rise by about 6% in June – the lowest rate in the entire country.

(Writing by Lisa Shumaker)

U.S. coronavirus cases rise by 47,000, biggest one-day spike of pandemic

By Paul Simao and Carl O’Donnell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – New U.S. COVID-19 cases rose by more than 47,000 on Tuesday according to a Reuters tally, the biggest one-day spike since the start of the pandemic, as the government’s top infectious disease expert warned that number could soon double.

California, Texas and Arizona have emerged as new U.S. epicenters of the pandemic, reporting record increases in COVID-19 cases.

“Clearly we are not in total control right now,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a U.S. Senate committee. “I am very concerned because it could get very bad.”

Fauci said the daily increase in new cases could reach 100,000 unless a nationwide push was made to tamp down the resurgent virus.

“We can’t just focus on those areas that are having the surge. It puts the entire country at risk,” he said.

Fauci said there was no guarantee of a vaccine, although early data had been promising: “Hopefully there will be doses available by the beginning of next year,” he said.

COVID-19 cases more than doubled in June in at least 10 states, including Texas and Florida, a Reuters tally showed. In parts of Texas and Arizona, hospital intensive care beds for COVID-19 patients are in short supply.

More than 126,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and millions have lost their jobs as states and major cities ordered residents to stay home and businesses closed. The economy contracted sharply in the first quarter and is expected to crater in the second.

‘TRUMP FAILED US’

The European Union has excluded Americans from its “safe list” of countries from which the block will allow non-essential travel beginning on Wednesday.

The fresh rise in cases and hospitalizations has dimmed hopes that the worst of the human and economic pain had passed, prompting renewed criticism of U.S. President Donald Trump as he seeks re-election on Nov. 3.

His rival, Democrat Joe Biden, on Tuesday said that Trump’s “historic mismanagement” of the pandemic cost lives and inflicted more damage than necessary to the U.S. economy.

“It didn’t have to be this way. Donald Trump failed us,” the 77-year-old former vice president said in a speech in Delaware, where he unveiled an updated plan to tackle the pandemic calling for more testing and the hiring of 100,000 contract tracers.

In the past week California, Texas and Florida have moved to close recently reopened bars, which public health officials believe are likely one of the larger contributors to the recent spikes.

On Tuesday, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut added travelers from California and seven other states to those who must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Texas and Florida were named last week.

South Carolina also has also emerged as a hot spot, reporting a record single-day increase of 1,755 cases on Tuesday.

In Texas, where the number of new cases jumped to a one-day record of 6,975 on Tuesday, Houston hospitals said beds were quickly filling up with COVID-19 patients.

Dr. Marc Boom, chief executive of Houston Methodist Hospital, told CNN on Tuesday that his hospital beds have seen a “very significant” increase in COVID-19 patients, although the death rate has lowered.

Boom said he was worried about Independence Day celebrations this weekend, when Americans traditionally flock to beaches and campgrounds to watch fireworks displays.

“Frankly it scares me,” he said.

 

(Reporting by Carl O’Donnell, Trevor Hunnicutt, Simon Lewis, Saumya Joseph, Brad Brooks, Susan Heavey, Maria Caspani and Paul Simao; Writing by Nathan Layne and Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Richard Pullin)

California, Texas see record COVID-19 surges, Arizona clamps down

By Dan Whitcomb and Maria Caspani

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – California and Texas both marked record spikes in new COVID-19 infections on Monday, a Reuters tally showed, as Los Angeles reported an “alarming” one-day surge in America’s second-largest city that put it over 100,000 cases.

Los Angeles has become a new epicenter in the pandemic as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations surge there despite California Governor Gavin Newsom’s strict orders requiring bars to close and residents to wear masks in nearly all public spaces.

“The alarming increases in cases, positivity rates and hospitalizations signals that we, as a community, need to take immediate action to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Barbara Ferrer, director of public health for Los Angeles County, said in a statement announcing the sharp rise.

“Otherwise, we are quickly moving toward overwhelming our healthcare system and seeing even more devastating illness and death,” Ferrer said.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a “hard pause” on when movie theaters, theme parks and other entertainment venues can reopen. Los Angeles County is the biggest movie theater market in the United States.

Los Angeles County said its beaches will be closed for the Independence Day weekend and fireworks displays will be banned.

Statewide positive tests for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus, rose by at least 7,418 in California Monday to nearly 223,000, the biggest one-day increase since tracking began. Los Angeles County, with a population of 10 million, has recorded 100,000 cases.

California is among a number of U.S. states including Florida, Texas and Arizona battling a new wave of infections as the nation emerges from weeks of clamp-downs on residents and businesses. COVID-19 infections in Texas rose by 6,545 on Monday to nearly 160,000, also setting a record for a one-day increase.

Nationally, cases rose by more than 40,000, for the fourth time in the past five days.

ARIZONA HIT HARD

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey on Monday ordered the closure of bars, nightclubs, gyms, movie theaters and water parks for at least 30 days. Ducey also delayed the start of public schools until at least Aug. 17.

“Our expectation is that next week our numbers will be worse,” Ducey said at an afternoon news conference. Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Phoenix on Wednesday to discuss efforts to fight the pandemic’s resurgence.

Texas and Florida ordered the closure of all their recently reopened bars on Friday.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said on Monday indoor dining will not resume on Thursday as planned and would be postponed indefinitely.

In Kansas, Governor Laura Kelly imposed a statewide mandate requiring the wearing of masks in public spaces, which she said was necessary to avoid another shutdown.

Beaches in Florida’s Broward County and Palm Beach County will not open for the July 3-5 holiday weekend, officials said on Sunday, a blow to residents hoping to celebrate Independence Day there. Miami-Dade County has also announced beach closures for the holiday weekend.

AMC, the largest U.S. movie theater chain, on Monday said it was pushing back the reopening of its theaters to July 30 from July 15.

In June, 22 U.S. states reported record increases in new cases, often multiple times, including Alaska, Arkansas, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon and Utah.

The city of Jacksonville, Florida, venue for part of the Republican nominating convention in August, said on Twitter it would be requiring masks in public starting later on Monday.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Monday that Trump “has no problem with masks and to do whatever your local jurisdiction requests.”

The New York Times reported on Monday that 43% of U.S. deaths from COVID-19 were linked to nursing homes and long-term care facilities. The paper cited its own tracking database.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles and Maria Caspani in New York; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu in Washington, Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut, Lisa Shumaker in Chicago and Brad Brooks in Austin; Writing by Grant McCool and Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Howard Goller, Bill Berkrot, Cynthia Osterman, Leslie Adler and Jane Wardell)

Where COVID-19 is spreading fastest as U.S. cases rise 46% in past week

By Chris Canipe and Lisa Shumaker

(Reuters) – The United States saw a 46% increase in new cases of COVID-19 in the week ended June 28 compared to the previous seven days, with 21 states reporting positivity test rates above the level that the World Health Organization has flagged as concerning.

Nationally, 7% of diagnostic tests came back positive last week, up from 5% the prior week, according to a Reuters analysis of data from The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer-run effort to track the outbreak.

The World Health Organization considers a positivity rate above 5% to be a cause for concern because it suggests there are more cases in the community that have not yet been uncovered.

Arizona’s positivity test rate was 24% last week, Florida’s was 16%, and Nevada, South Carolina and Texas’s were all 15%, according to the analysis.

Thirty-one states, mostly in the U.S. West and South, reported more new cases of COVID-19 last week compared to the previous week, the analysis found. Florida, Louisiana, Idaho and Washington state saw new cases more than double over that period.

In response to the new infections, Louisiana and Washington state have temporarily halted the reopening of their economies. Washington also mandated wearing masks in public.

Florida ordered all bars and some beaches to close. Idaho was not immediately available for comment.

Nationally, new COVID-19 cases have risen every week for four straight weeks. While part of that increase can be attributed to a 9% expansion in testing, health experts have also worried about states relaxing stay-at-home orders that had been credited with curbing the outbreak.

State officials across the country report the same trend in the new cases: People under 35 years old are going to bars, parties and social events without masks, becoming infected, and then spreading the disease to others.

Cases continue to decline in Northeast states, but some Midwest states that had new infections under control are seeing cases once again rise, including Illinois, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

 

(Reporting by Chris Canipe in Kansas City, Missouri, and Lisa Shumaker in Chicago; Editing by Tiffany Wu)

‘A recipe for disaster,’ U.S. health official says of Americans ignoring coronavirus advice

By Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu

WASHINGTON Reuters) – A spike in U.S. coronavirus infections is fueled in large part by people ignoring public health guidelines to keep their distance and wear masks, the government’s top infectious disease official said.

A daily surge in confirmed cases has been most pronounced in southern and western states that did not follow health officials’ recommendations to wait for a steady decline in infections for two weeks before reopening their economies.

“That’s a recipe for disaster,” Anthony Fauci, who directs the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN in an interview broadcast on Monday.

“Now we’re seeing the consequences of community spread, which is even more difficult to contain than spread in a well-known physical location like a prison or nursing home or meatpacking place,” Fauci told the cable channel in the interview, which was recorded on Friday.

More than 2.5 million people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the United States and more than 125,000 have died of COVID-19, the respiratory illness it causes, according to a Reuters tally. The U.S. tally is the highest in the world while the global death toll in the pandemic surpassed half a million people on Sunday.

California ordered some bars to close on Sunday, the first major rollback of efforts to reopen the economy in the most populous U.S. state, following Texas and Florida ordering the closure of all their bars on Friday. Arizona and Georgia are among 15 states that had record increases in cases last week.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday pressed Americans to adopt face masks during a trip to Texas and wore one himself, a sharp turnaround for the administration. Republican President Donald Trump has refused to cover his face in public.

Pence and other top health officials were expected to visit Arizona and Florida later this week.

In places where cases are soaring, U.S. health officials are also considering “completely blanketing these communities with tests,” Fauci said, to try to get a better sense of an outbreak.

They would either test groups, or “pools,” of people or have community groups do contact tracing in person rather than by phone. Contact tracing involves identifying people who are infected and monitoring people who may have been exposed and asking them to voluntarily go into quarantine.

Fauci said that he was optimistic that a vaccine could be available by year’s end but that it was unclear how effective it would prove to be, adding that no vaccine would be 100% effective and citing challenges to achieve so-called herd immunity.

The top Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, on Monday stressed individual actions to stop the spread of the virus, deflecting criticism from Democrats and some health experts that Trump botched the prevention effort.

“You can’t say the federal government should do everything, and then say the federal government can’t tell the states what to do,” McCarthy told CNBC. “The governors have a big responsibility here but every American has a responsibility. They should wear a mask.”

(Reporting by Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu in Washington; Writing by Grant McCool; Editing by Howard Goller)

U.S. to ship remdesivir to states including California and Texas with rising COVID-19 cases

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. government will ship more of Gilead Sciences Inc’s <GILD.O> antiviral treatment remdesivir to states experiencing an increase in COVID-19 cases including California, Texas, Florida and Arizona, according to the Department of Health and Human Services’ website.

The government reallocated remdesivir to states with increasing cases, White House task force coordinator Deborah Birx said during a briefing on Friday.

HHS said on its website that the doses will ship starting Monday and extinguish the full amount of Gilead’s donation of 120,647 treatment courses. It said it would continue to work with Gilead to determine how the company’s anticipated inventory of 2 million doses by year’s end will be allocated.

California will receive 464 cases of 40 vials each, Texas will receive 448 cases of 40 vials, Florida will receive 360 cases of 40 vials and Arizona will receive 356 cases of 40 vials, according to the website.

Gilead donated the courses after the treatment received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month.

New York, which was one of the hardest hit states initially, was allocated 2,714 cases in total.

(Reporting by Caroline Humer; Editing by Tom Brown)

New U.S. COVID-19 cases surge 25% last week; Arizona, Florida and Texas set records

By Chris Canipe and Lisa Shumaker

(Reuters) – The United States saw a 25% increase in new cases of COVID-19 in the week ended June 21 compared to the previous seven days, with Arizona, Florida and Texas experiencing record surges in new infections, a Reuters analysis found.

Twenty-five U.S. states reported more new cases last week than the previous week, including 10 states that saw weekly new infections rise more than 50%, and 12 states that posted new records, according to the analysis of data from The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer-run effort to track the outbreak.

Texas reported one of the largest rises in new cases at 24,000 for the week ended June 21, an increase of 84% from the previous week. The number of COVID-19 tests that came back positive in the state rose to 10%, from 7%.

New cases in Florida rose 87% last week to almost 22,000, with the state’s positive test rate nearly doubling to 11%.

Arizona reported 17,000 new cases, a 90% increase, with 20% of tests coming back positive, according to the analysis.

(GRAPHIC-Where coronavirus cases are rising in the United States)

The governors of all three states have attributed the increases in new cases to more testing, and to younger residents not following social distancing guidelines. Some health experts have criticized these states for reopening too quickly without adequate restrictions, for instance not making it mandatory to wear masks in public.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended states wait for new COVID-19 cases to fall for 14 days before easing social distancing restrictions.

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia are in compliance with that guideline, the analysis showed, down from 17 states the prior week. New York leads with 10 straight weeks of declines, followed by Rhode Island, Illinois and Washington, D.C.

Nationally, the number of new COVID-19 cases had been falling on a weekly basis through May. Last week’s 25% jump came after a 1% rise in the second week of June and a 3% increase in the first week of June.

Graphic – Tracking the novel coronavirus in the U.S.:

Graphic – World-focused tracker with country-by-country interactive:

(Reporting by Chris Canipe in Kansas City, Missouri, and Lisa Shumaker in Chicago; Editing by Tiffany Wu)

‘It may save your life’: Facing virus surge, more U.S. states mandate masks

By Andrew Hay

(Reuters) – California, North Carolina and a string of U.S. cities mandated or urged mandatory mask use on Thursday to get a grip on spiraling coronavirus cases as at least six states set daily records.

Putting aside concerns about individual rights and political unpopularity, U.S. governors and mayors said they were turning to compulsory face coverings to stop the virus running out of control as economies reopened.

On a day when Florida posted 3,207 new cases, its second daily record in a week, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings ordered obligatory mask use, telling residents of Orlando and other cities it would help them avoid a second shutdown.

California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered mask use in most places as the state for the second day in a row registered over 4,000 new cases.

As Arizona posted another daily case record, the Democratic mayors of Tucson and Phoenix respectively ordered and prepared to vote on mandatory face coverings after Republican Governor Doug Ducey bowed to pressure and let cities set mask rules.

“This piece of protection may even save your life,” North Carolina Democratic Governor Roy Cooper told reporters, adding that he was considering statewide obligatory mask use on a day when statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations set a new high.

A month after many governors reopened their economies, a growing number are adopting U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance that masks are essential to prevent community spread.

Resistance to face masks took on a partisan edge after President Donald Trump opposed them, telling the Wall Street Journal in an interview published on Thursday that some people wear them to show opposition to him.

But with businesses ranging from Las Vegas casinos to hardware chains requiring their use, masks are becoming commonplace in the United States.

In Texas, the mayors of the state’s nine biggest cities asked Republican Governor Greg Abbott this week to grant them authority to set mask regulations.

As Oklahoma reported its second day of record coronavirus cases, the Tulsa arena hosting a Trump rally on Saturday said it would encourage all attendees to remain masked throughout the event and issue staff with personal protective gear.

Trump has pushed ahead with the rally – which would be the biggest U.S. indoor social gathering in three months – even as health experts worry assembling thousands of people inside an arena – particularly if many are not wearing masks – could turn it into a virus “super-spreader event.”

Nationwide, COVID-19 cases rose by 26,357 on Thursday to about 2.2 million, according to a Reuters tally, marking the biggest daily increase in nearly two weeks. There have been 118,377 U.S. deaths, an increase of 684 on Thursday.

(Reporting by Andrew Hay in Cañon, New Mexico; Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles and David Schwartz in Phoenix; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Some scold, others cheerlead: U.S. states tackle reopening differently

By Maria Caspani and Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The two most populous U.S. states took markedly different approaches to reopening on Monday with New York scolding local governments for not enforcing social distancing and California encouraging counties to restart economies if they met criteria.

Scenes of merrymakers gathering outside bars prompted the governor of New York, the state hardest hit along with New Jersey by the coronavirus pandemic, to urge local officials and businesses on Monday to strictly enforce reopening guidelines.

“To the local governments I say, ‘Do your job,'” Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters. Over the weekend he criticized New York City street crowds outside bars and asked people to adhere to six feet (two meters) of distance from others.

Both Cuomo and neighboring New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said they were keeping open the option of reimposing restrictions if officials fail to stop large public gatherings that risk leading to a second wave of infections.

In California, Governor Gavin Newsom has left it up to individual counties on when to reopen once they meet state guidelines. He reminded county officials of the risks of not restarting economies, as well as reopening them.

Newsom told a news briefing on Monday people could not be “locked away for months and months and months,” especially those among the 5.5 million Americans who have lost their jobs since mid-March. He said some had also lost health coverage and were among the many people suffering severe mental and physical health problems during the pandemic.

In enforcing coronavirus restrictions, he said the state and counties could not “see lives and livelihoods completely destroyed without considering the health impact of those decisions as well.”

“As we mix, as we reopen, inevitably we’re going to see an increase in the total number of cases; it’s our capacity to address that that is so foundational,” said Newsom.

NEW FORECAST

California is one of four states that is projected to see the biggest spike in deaths in the months ahead, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.

Its new forecast on Monday forecast over 200,000 deaths due to COVID-19 in the United States through the beginning of October, mainly due to reopening measures underway.

The IHME, whose estimates are cited by many health experts, projected Florida will see its deaths nearly triple to 18,675 deaths from 6,559 on June 10, while California can expect to see deaths increase by 72 percent to 15,155 from 8,812, it said.

Georgia and Arizona also have sharp increases in deaths forecast by the institute.

New York and New Jersey between them account for more than a third of the nearly 116,000 U.S. deaths, but deaths and hospitalizations have been on the decline of late. Both have followed strict health guidelines for reopening businesses when all measures of infection drop – new cases, deaths, hospitalizations and positive rates among those getting tested.

Scott Gottlieb, the former Food and Drug Administration director who has advised the White House on the coronavirus, said on Monday that flare-ups needed to be addressed with aggressive contact tracing and targeted responses.

“We’re not going to be able to shut down the country again this summer. We’re probably not going to be able to shut down the country again this fall,” he said on CNBC.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington, Jonathan Allen and Maria Caspani in New York, Lisa Shumaker in Chicago, Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico; Writing by Sonya Hepinstall and Andrew Hay; Editing by Howard Goller, Bill Tarrant and Cynthia Osterman)

Fears of second U.S. coronavirus wave rise on worrisome spike in cases, hospitalizations

By Lisa Shumaker, Carl O’Donnell and Michael Erman

(Reuters) – About half a dozen states including Texas and Arizona are grappling with a rising number of coronavirus patients filling hospital beds, fanning concerns that the reopening of the U.S. economy may spark a second wave of infections.

The rally in global stocks came crashing down on Thursday over worries of a pandemic resurgence. The last time the S&P 500 and Dow fell as much in one day was in March, when U.S. coronavirus cases began surging.

A recent spike in cases in about a dozen states partially reflects increased testing. But many of those states are also seeing rising hospitalizations and some are beginning to run short on intensive care unit (ICU) beds.

Texas has seen record hospitalizations for three days in a row, and in North Carolina only 13% of the state’s ICU beds are available due to severe COVID-19 cases. Houston’s mayor said the city was ready to turn its NFL stadium into a make-shift hospital if necessary.

Arizona has seen a record number of hospitalizations at 1,291. The state health director told hospitals this week to activate emergency plans and increase ICU capacity. About three-quarters of the state’s ICU beds are filled, according to the state website.

“You’re really crossing a threshold in Arizona,” said Jared Baeten, an epidemiologist at the University of Washington. “The alarming thing would be if the numbers start to rise in places that have clearly already peaked and are on their downtrend,” he said, referring to New York and other Northeastern states where new cases and deaths have plummeted.

Health experts worry there could be a further rise in infections from nationwide protests over racial injustice and police brutality that packed people together starting two weeks ago.

STATES WITH RISING CASES

Arizona, Utah and New Mexico all posted rises in new cases of 40% or higher for the week ended June 7, compared with the prior seven days, according to a Reuters analysis. New cases rose in Florida, Arkansas, South Carolina and North Carolina by more than 30% in the past week.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease official, told Canada’s CBC news that more cases are inevitable as restrictions are lifted.

“We also as a whole have been going down with cases,” Fauci said. “But I think what you mentioned about some states now having an increase in the number of cases makes one pause and be a little bit concerned.”

Even if hospitals are not overwhelmed by coronavirus cases, more hospitalizations mean more deaths in the coming weeks and months, said Spencer Fox, research associate at the University of Texas at Austin.

“We are starting to see very worrying signs about the course the pandemic is taking in cities and states in the U.S. and around the world,” he said. “When you start seeing those signs, you need to act fairly quickly.”

Total U.S. coronavirus deaths are now over 113,000, by far the most in the world. That figure could exceed 200,000 at some point in September, Ashish Jha, the head of Harvard’s Global Health Institute, told CNN.

Jha said the United States was the only major country to reopen without getting its case growth to a controlled level – defined as a rate of people testing positive for the coronavirus remaining at 5% or lower for at least 14 days. Nationally, that figure has been between 4% and 7% in recent weeks, according to a Reuters analysis.

Health officials have stressed that wearing masks in public and keeping physically apart can greatly reduce transmissions, but many states have not required masks.

“I want the reopening to be successful,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, the top executive for the county that encompasses Houston, told reporters. “But I’m growing increasingly concerned that we may be approaching the precipice of a disaster.”

(Reporting by Michael Erman and Carl O’Donnell in New York and Lisa Shumaker in Chicago; Additional reporting by Lewis Krauskopf in New York and Brad Brooks in Austin, Texas; Writing by Lisa Shumaker; editing by Peter Henderson and Bill Berkrot)