Rises in Texas, Arizona, Florida, California sound alarms and experts say surges can’t be linked directly to reopenings
NEW YORK • A second wave of coronavirus cases is emerging in the US, raising alarms as new infections push the overall count past two million Americans.
Texas on Wednesday reported 2,504 new coronavirus cases), the highest one-day total since the pandemic emerged.
A month into its reopening, Florida this week reported 8,553 new cases (at press time) — the most of any seven-day period.
California’s hospitalisations are at their highest since May 13 and have risen in nine of the past 10 days.
“There is a new wave coming in parts of the country,” said Eric Toner, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Centre for Health Security. “It’s small and it’s distant so far, but it’s coming.”
Though the outbreaks come weeks into state reopenings, it’s not clear that they’re linked to increased economic activity. And health experts say it’s still too soon to tell whether the massive protests against police brutality that have erupted in the past two weeks have led to more infections.
In Georgia, where hair salons, tattoo parlours and gyms have been operating for a month and a half, case numbers have plateaued, flummoxing experts.
Puzzling differences show up even within states. In California, which imposed a stay-at-home order in late March, San Francisco saw zero cases for three consecutive days this week, while Los Angeles County reported well over half of the state’s new cases. The White House Coronavirus Task Force has yet to see any relationship between reopening and increased cases of Covid-19, Food and Drug Administration commissioner Stephen Hahn said on a podcast.
But in some states, rising numbers outpace increases in testing, raising concerns about whether the virus can be controlled. It will take a couple of weeks to know, Toner said, but by then “it’s going to be pretty late” to respond.
Since the pandemic initially swept the US starting early this year, two million people have been infected and more than 115,000 have died (at press time).
In New York, the state hardest hit by Covid-19, Governor Andrew Cuomo only recently started reopening by region. New York City, the epicentre, began the first of four phases on Monday.
“We know as a fact that reopening other states, we’re seeing significant problems,” Cuomo said on Tuesday. “Just because you reopen does not mean you will have a spike, but if you are not smart, you can have a spike.”
Experts see evidence of a second wave building in Arizona, Texas, Florida and California. Arizona “sticks out like a sore thumb in terms of a major problem”, said Jeffrey Morris, director of the division of biostatistics at University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine.
Arizona’s daily tally of new cases has abruptly spiked in the last two weeks, hitting an all-time high of 1,187 on June 2.
This week, its Department of Health Services urged hospitals to activate emergency plans. Director Cara Christ, told a Phoenix Television station that she was concerned about the rising case count and percentage of people tested who are found to be positive. — Bloomberg