New coronavirus cases are hitting fresh highs in more than a dozen states as the head of the White House task force Dr Deborah Birx urged the regions with surging infections to close bars, cut back on indoor dining and mandate face masks.
There has now been more than 4.2 million infections recorded across the United States and nearly 147,000 Americans have died from COVID-19.
The number of cases in the current hard hit states of Texas, California, Arizona and Florida are now showing signs of plateauing after a month of record surges, health officials say.
But the number of infections are now spiking, based on a seven-day average, in more than a dozen states, including Oklahoma, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii and Wyoming.
Meanwhile, Nevada, Texas and South Carolina have seen record highs in the number of deaths based on a seven-day average.
MISSOURI: There are currently 41,927 cases in Missouri and 1,197 deaths. Cases have been steadily increasing across the state since mid-June and deaths have not
MISSISSIPPI: Cases have been rising steadily in Mississippi with that state now having 52,304 cases. There have been 1,495 deaths and the fatality rate is now showing signs of an uptick
OKLAHOMA: Oklahoma currently has 31,285 cases and 496 deaths. Both cases and deaths have been rising this month
Dr Birx, who is the head of the White House COVID-19 taskforce, said the surge in cases that has plagued Sunbelt states since Memorial Day is now being seen elsewhere, which is a sign that the virus is now spreading North.
The states with rising cases should be closing bars, cutting back on indoor restaurant capacity and limiting social gatherings to 10 people, Dr Birx warned.
She also said all Americans should be wearing masks when out in public or around other people.
‘We can see what is happening in the South moving North,’ Dr Birx said. ‘We do believe there are states that do need to close their bars.’
Florida on Sunday became the second state after California to overtake New York, the original epicenter of the US outbreak.
Total COVID-19 cases in Florida rose by 9,300 to 423,855 on Sunday, just one place behind California, which now leads the country with 448,497 cases. New York is in third place with 415,827 cases.
There has now been more than 4.2 million infections recorded across the United States and nearly 147,000 Americans have died from COVID-19
Still, New York has recorded the most deaths of any U.S. state at more than 32,000 with Florida in eighth place with nearly 6,000 deaths.
On average, Florida has added more than 10,000 cases a day in July while California has been adding 8,300 cases a day and New York has been adding 700 cases.
Dr Birx, who is the head of the White House COVID-19 taskforce, said the surge in cases that has plagued Sunbelt states since Memorial Day is now being seen elsewhere, which is a sign that the virus is now spreading North
Dr Birx said last week that there were signs cases in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California were now plateauing.
‘We’re already starting to see some plateauing in these critically four states that have really suffered under the last four weeks,’ Birx told NBC’s Today.
‘This first wave that we see now across Florida, Texas, California and Arizona began with under 30 years olds – many of those who were asymptomatic.
‘It’s very serious and it’s very real.’
She also warned last week that 11 major cities needed to take ‘aggressive’ steps to mitigate COVID-19 outbreaks.
The 11 cities she mentioned include: Baltimore, Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and St Louis.
‘Until you can see that explosion, it’s hard for people to understand how deeply you have to clamp down,’ Dr Birx said.
‘That’s why we called out the next set of cities where we see early-warning signs, because if you make changes now, you won’t become a Phoenix.’