American political and business leaders have begun to slow the gradual economic reopening of the US. As the country posted its biggest increase in coronavirus cases on Wednesday since the outbreak began.
Seven states, primarily in the south and west, reported record increases in the past 24 hours, as the national count increased by 38,672, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
The sudden surge prompted Apple to close its seven retail stores in Houston, which authorities believe could be emerging as a new American hotspot, just days after closing outlets in Arizona and three southern states.
At the same time, the Governor of North Carolina, one of the southern states that has had a jump in cases, halted his plans to ease the blockade restrictions and ordered residents to cover their faces.
“The numbers we see are a stark warning and we must pay attention,” Governor Roy Cooper said, adding that it was “clear that our numbers will prevent us from moving forward in the next phase of easing the restrictions.”
Record increases in Texas, Florida and California led the group on Wednesday, California recorded 7,149 cases in the past 24 hours, Texas recorded 5,551 and Florida 5,511. North Carolina recorded 1,721 cases, close to a record high for the state.
The new outbreaks led the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, states that were once home to the worst of the American pandemic, to impose a two-week quarantine on visitors from states with high infection rates.
The order will apply to travelers from states with infections equivalent to 10 percent of its population, or 10 per 100,000 people, on a seven-day moving average. As of Wednesday, that list included Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Washington.
The sharp rise in cases in the south and west sent nervousness through Wall Street on Wednesday, with the benchmark S&P 500 index closing 2.6 percent lower.
Charles Evans, head of the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank, said at the Corridor Business Journal midyear economic review webinar that he was now taking into account renewed blockages in his economic outlook.
“My forecast assumes that growth is slowed by the response to intermittent localized outbreaks, which could be worsened by faster-than-expected reopens,” Evans said in his prepared remarks.
Although the increasing number of cases has not yet resulted in an increase in deaths, several states have reported an alarming increase in Covid-19 patients in hospital.
Texas reported Tuesday that it had more coronavirus patients in the hospital than at any other time during the pandemic, and California said it had 5,065, the highest total since mid-April, 15% more than a month ago.
Georgia (1,056), North Carolina (915), South Carolina (824), Alabama (680), Tennessee (446) and Arizona (248) reported their highest number of current hospitalizations on Tuesday since the outbreak began.
New York and New Jersey had been the hardest hit states in the United States and have maintained strict blockade policies until last week. As a result, both states have had sharp falls in hospitalizations and deaths. Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, said Wednesday that the state recorded 17 deaths in the last 24 hours, near record lows.
Those totals are a significant reversal from when the Empire State Building was at the heart of the United States outbreak; It has registered nearly 390,000 cases, or 16.7 percent of the nation’s total.
Cuomo said anyone who violates the new quarantine rule for visitors could be fined, and the order applied to New York residents returning home from affected states.
Additional report from Mamta Badkar in New York