Coronavirus Cases Hit New High As States Require Masks

The nation may be opening up, but the coronavirus is far from declining. In fact, COVID-19 is on the rise.

There were 38,459 new cases of the virus reported across the country on Thursday, a number that exceeded the record set the previous day of 38,115.

The increases are the highest in two months, when 36,739 cases were reported on April 24.

The records come when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Thursday that infections could be 10 times more than the 2.4 million that have been recorded as states in the South and West, including California, see sudden increases and pressure pause in reopening plans or implement restrictions to slow the spread of the disease.

“We probably recognized about 10% of the outbreak,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said Thursday, adding that up to 8% of Americans may have been infected.

There were 5,996 new cases that day in Texas, a record since the start of the pandemic. There was also a record of deaths. Forty-seven people were reported to have died from the virus in the state, most in more than a month.

A wide swath of southern states, including Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Louisiana, Tennessee, and South Carolina, has also seen an increase in cases and hospitalizations.

This week, Democratic members of the state’s congressional delegation urged Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, to demand that Floridians wear protective masks in public.

Similar movements have been announced in the states of California, Nevada and Washington.

“As positive cases and hospitalizations increase, it is imperative that you take data-driven steps to help protect Floridians, our families and our communities from the dangers of COVID-19,” wrote members of the Florida delegation in your letter.

So far, DeSantis has resisted reducing the reopening or issuance of new mandates amid one of the nation’s most dramatic peaks.

On Thursday, the Florida Department of Health reported 5,004 additional new cases after 5,508 additional cases on Wednesday, the highest number since the pandemic.

As elsewhere, part of the increase can be attributed to more tests, but the positive test rate has also hit a record

Experts say that indicates the virus is spreading as more companies reopen and more people resume social contact.

The virus is growing particularly fast in Miami-Dade, the state’s most populous county with 2.7 million residents.

After seeing a decrease in the number of cases and the rate of positive tests in late May, the area, which includes the city of Miami and the tourist magnet Miami Beach, has seen a dramatic increase in infections among young people.

According to Mary Jo Trepka, professor and chair of the department of epidemiology at Florida International University, the average age of people in Miami-Dade with COVID-19 is now 33, compared to 37 a couple of weeks ago.

“The most troubling thing about this past week is how steep the increase has been,” Trepka said. “It was very difficult for the community to close, but it was effective and the rates went down. The problem now is that rates are going up faster than they went down when we closed. “

The number of people in Miami-Dade hospitals also increased from 700 to 900, Trepka said, and the number of patients in intensive care units almost doubled from 100 to 200.

Local authorities have been quick to introduce measures to mitigate the spread. Miami commissioners approved a measure Thursday that would fine people $ 250 for not wearing a mask in public.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee, who also announced a similar statewide requirement for masks this week, has faced a backlash in some parts of the state.

In Lewis County, a conservative region between Seattle and Portland, Oregon, the sheriff warned a group of residents other than “sheep” in reference to the directive that will take effect on Friday.

“In case you haven’t heard, Governor Inslee, in his infinite wisdom, has decided after more than 100 days, that we should all wear face masks, inside and out,” said Sheriff Rob Snaza, a Republican. . He said through a megaphone this week in Chehalis, Washington, near a billboard famous for displaying right-wing statements.

Inslee, a Democrat, has equated the masks with seat belts.

“I just don’t agree with calling those people in any way farmyard animals,” Inslee said this week. “They are protecting other people.”

Elsewhere in the state, which saw the first major outbreak of the virus in the United States around Seattle in late winter in March, cases have grown in agricultural regions. Yakima County’s food processing and agricultural workers have more than doubled in a month to exceed 1,000.

John James cuts his hair at the Kuttin 'Edge barbershop in the Galleria Mall in Houston.

John James cuts his hair at the Kuttin ‘Edge barbershop in the Galleria Mall in Houston.

(Molly Hennessy-Fiske / Los Angeles Times)

In Texas, the increase is especially bad in larger cities.

South Texas officials voiced concern this week that crowds would descend on Gulf Coast beaches and on the fronts of the Hill Country rivers to celebrate July 4, as they did on Memorial Day.

At Houston’s largest Galleria Mall, people flocked to the food court this week. Nearby, parents skated with children on an ice-covered rink, and stylists and barbers cut their hair, many without masks. The city and county have required coverage at local businesses, but the state has not.

Inside the Kuttin ‘Edge barbershop, barber Ricky Watson wore a mask and said he had been socially estranged, removing chairs from the waiting room and spraying seats with disinfectant. Check the temperatures of staff and customers.

“I think I take every precaution I can,” said Watson, 34, as two barbers cut customers.

His store closed 45 days before reopening. If officials think the latest outbreak is too dangerous, he said, he would understand the need to close again.

“If it’s a spike, health and safety first,” said Watson.

Barber Sean Bowie, 38, said he met his share of “non-believers” who still refuse to wear masks. He tells them they have to do it while they are in the store.

“We don’t want to be the cause of someone understanding it,” he said.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who previously in the pandemic imposed two-week quarantines on travelers arriving from New York, has now seen the state governor apply the same restriction to Texans due to increasing infections.

The rule also applies in Connecticut and New Jersey to travelers from other states that have a positive rate greater than 10 per 100,000 residents.

Meanwhile, Hawaii, which had fined and arrested travelers who broke a mandatory two-week quarantine after traveling to the state, announced a relaxation of its rules this week.

Starting August 1, anyone traveling to the state with a negative coronavirus test no longer needs to be quarantined.

Instead, they can roam freely.

Kaleem reported from Los Angeles. Writers Jenny Jarvie in Atlanta, Molly Hennessy-Fiske in Houston, and Richard Read in Seattle contributed to this report.