US states reimpose virus measures

More than 35,900 cases recorded in past 24 hours, with heavily populated states including Florida, Texas and California posting records

HOUSTON • US officials on Wednesday imposed tough measures including quarantines and stay-at-home advice, as daily coronavirus cases approached record levels after surging across the nation’s South and West.

Nearly four months after reporting its first death from Covid-19, the US faces a deepening health crisis as a wave of infections hits young Americans and experts issue new acute warnings.

More than 35,900 cases were recorded in the past 24 hours, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, with heavily populated states including Florida, Texas and California all reporting daily record cases.

The world’s largest economy is already the country hardest hit by the pandemic, with a mounting death toll of almost 122,000 (at press time).

Three northeastern states that made progress beating back the pandemic — New York, New Jersey and Connecticut — urged visitors arriving from US hotspots to quarantine themselves.

Several states in the South and West, including Florida and Texas, are suffering what White House advisor and top scientist Anthony Fauci described as “disturbing” new surges in infections. He warned the next two weeks would be “critical” to addressing the surges.

Texas, among the most aggressive states in reopening in early June, saw new cases hit a daily high of 5,489 on Tuesday.

Florida marked 5,508 new infections on Tuesday, bringing its total to more than 109,000 confirmed cases and 3,281 deaths.

Governor Ron DeSantis said the state was experiencing “a real explosion in new cases among our younger demographics”, and a spike in hospitalisations. The average age of new cases in Florida on Wednesday was just 33 years, his spokeswoman said.

DeSantis warned that bars and restaurants could lose their alcohol licences if they do not follow social-distancing guidelines.

California, the nation’s most populous state, also saw a daily record of 7,149 new cases on Tuesday, to pass 190,000 total.

Disneyland, near Los Angeles, delayed its planned July 17 reopening without announcing a new reopening date for the world’s second-most visited theme park. And nearby Arizona is seeing dangerous spikes. Its confirmed Covid-19 cases have more than quadrupled since the stay-at-home order expired on May 15, and the average age of people get- ting infected is getting younger and younger.

Arizona’s reported seven-day rolling average of 39 new cases per 100,000 residents is a nationwide high. But the dire figures did not stop Trump from hosting a rally on Tuesday in Arizona’s largest city Phoenix, where most attendees did not wear masks or practise social distancing. — AFP