Florida and Texas reported highest surge in cases within 24 hours of Independence Day weekend
Across the country, as the novel coronavirus continues to spread, officials urged Americans to be mindful of their July 4 plans. A number of community displays were canceled out of fears of worsening the current outbreak that has seen an 89 percent increase in new cases within the last two weeks in the U.S., The New York Times reported.
But while Americans participated in “scaled-back” Independence Day celebrations the country still recorded an increase in coronavirus cases for the 26th day in a row. According to The Washington Post, data found that the seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases as of Saturday was 48,361 an increase of 11,740 from last week. Of the 36 states whose new cases have gone up this week compared to the previous one, nine of them have increased by over 50 percent. Both Florida and Texas reported their highest surge in cases within 24 hours Saturday, according to state health department records.
In Florida, the pandemic has infected more than 190,000 people; based on seven-day average new cases in the state have increased by 67 percent. Texas has reached approximately 192,000 reported cases, state hospitals are at or reaching full capacity as the number of hospitalizations needed increase, CNBC reported.
Both states have passed the five percent safety threshold that the World Health Organization recommends as a safe level to reopen businesses. But despite reports that 14.1 percent of those tested for the virus in Florida Saturday tested positive, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis refuses to close businesses again in addition to issuing a statewide order on requiring masks. DeSantis did however announce that the state’s plan to reopen will be reconsidered. Florida was one of the last states to implement a stay-at-home order on April 3; cases in the state make up about 20 percent of new cases reported in the U.S. While DeSantis refused to issue a statewide order, many counties have mandated residents wear masks and face coverings when in public.
Texas’s governor, on the other hand, seems to finally be acknowledging the state’s increase in cases. While many countries refuse to follow the order, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Thursday requiring residents in counties that have 20 or more COVID-19 cases to wear face coverings in public, and penalties for violating the order include a fine of $250. Abbott also issued a statewide order for restaurants to reduce their seating capacity and bars to be closed. Texas was one of the first states to lift its stay-at-home and lockdown restrictions; most businesses reopened in May.
Despite the increase of cases nationwide, Donald Trump claimed Saturday that his administration has made “a lot of progress” in slowing down the virus’s spread. “Our strategy is moving along well,” Trump said. “It goes out in one area and rears back its ugly face in another area. But we have learned a lot.” Trump continues to blame increased testing for the surge in cases, failing to realize that cases would still be present even if a positive was not reported. “When the virus is under control, testing doesn’t uncover more cases. It’s a tool for keeping the epidemic at bay,” former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb tweeted.
According to data compiled from John Hopkins University, the U.S. has reported more than 2.7 million coronavirus infections and at least 129,509 deaths as a result of COVID-19. As of Friday, the country has reported its third day of more than 50,000 new cases. Experts and officials continue to urge the public to wear facial coverings, practice social distancing, and avoid large gatherings in order to prevent further spread of the virus.
White House health advisor Anthony Fauci warned Americans last Tuesday that the number of new cases reported could double to more than 100,000 a day. “I can’t make an accurate prediction but it’s going to be very disturbing,” Fauci said in a hearing held by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. “We are now having 40-plus-thousand new cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around, and so I am very concerned.”