Texas cities have begun issuing curfews and stay-at-home orders again after bars in the state were forced to close for a second time amid an alarming spike in coronavirus cases, as the number of new infections in the US reaches new highs.
The US recorded 45,242 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, the largest single-day increase of the pandemic after at least five states including Texas, Florida, Utah, Tennessee and Idaho saw a record spikes.
Underscoring the worsening spread of the virus, Florida on Saturday morning reported 9,585 new infections in the last 24 hours, marking a record high for a second day, and 24 additional deaths.
The US death toll is now over 125,000, the highest in the world, with a total of 2.48million confirmed cases across the country.
The new record for positive COVID-19 tests came as Texas and other states at the center of a new surge in infections took steps back from efforts to ease restrictions on businesses, threatening a hoped-for economic recovery and jobs.
Barstools are stacked at South Tyler Speakeasy in Tyler, Texas as word reached the bar of Gov. Greg Abbott’s morning announcement that bars must close at noon on Friday
A worker carries a piece of plywood in Austin after bars were forced to close for a second time as coronavirus infections continue to spread
A worker drills a piece of plywood onto the facade of the Voodoo Room bar in Austin
Texas has reported more than 17,000 confirmed new cases in the last three days with a record high positive tests of 5,996 on Thursday
A small city on the outskirts of Houston has instituted a curfew starting Saturday night in a bid to contain the spread of the virus.
The mayor of Galena Park, a community of 10,000 people, said she was heeding a warning from Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, who on Friday raised the public threat level to its most severe, a sign people should shelter at home.
‘It is crucial to continue to practice good hygiene, stay home as much as possible, avoid unnecessary trips, gatherings, and wear a face-covering at all times when you leave your home,’ Mayor Esmeralda Moya said.
Galena Park’s curfew will run from 10pm to 5am daily.
In Hidalgo County, located north of the Mexican border, residents are being urged to stay home after officials imposed a curfew from 10pm to 6am and restricted mass gatherings to groups of ten or less on Thursday.
County Judge Richard F. Cortez said the decision comes amid a ‘concerning’ number of new infections.
‘It appears that despite the rise in infections, that residents have not taken proper precautions in protecting their friends and family from this disease,’ Cortez said in a release.
In a reversal of his early moves to relax restrictions, Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Friday ordered bars across the state to close and required restaurants to limit indoor seating capacity to 50 per cent, after having reopened in May.
He also said rafting and tubing outfitters on Texas’ popular rivers must close and that outdoor gatherings of 100 people or more must be approved by local governments.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez plans to issue an emergency order closing down the county’s beaches during the Fourth of July weekend
The planned closures from July 3 to July 7 come after Florida saw an uptick in coronavirus infections. There were nearly 9,000 new cases reported in the state Thursday, the highest tally since the outbreak began. Crowds are pictured on Miami Beach this week
Gimenez tweeted that he consulted with county health officials before deciding to sign the emergency order and said he might extend the beach closures if people don’t wear masks inside businesses and when they are unable to practice social distancing of six feet
FLORIDA: The state has reported 8,942 new coronavirus cases, which is up from the previous record for a single-day increase of 5,508 cases on Wednesday. In total, the state has reported 122,960 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and at least 3,366 coronavirus-related deaths
Florida, another state that reopened its economy relatively quickly, told bar owners in the state to immediately stop serving alcohol on their premises.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez plans to issue an emergency order closing down the county’s beaches during the Fourth of July weekend.
Gimenez warned that he may extend the shutdown if ‘conditions do not improve and people do not follow New Normal rules requiring masks to be worn always inside commercial establishments and outdoors when social distancing of at least 6 feet is not possible,’ in a statement about the order.
The mayor claimed he had seen both businesses and people ignoring safety measures against infection.
‘If people are not going to be responsible and protect themselves and others from this pandemic, then the government is forced to step in and restore common sense to save lives,’ Gimenez said.
His order, he said, will follow Centers for Disease Control recommendations and also ban gatherings, including parades, of more than 50 people in Miami-Dade ‘for whatever reason from July 3 to 7.’
He explained that ‘in those situations,’ masks and social distancing are required and five groups of no more than 10 people will be allowed.
His order also will impact fireworks viewing in celebration of the Fourth of July.
‘All parks and beaches will be closed to the public in all cities and unincorporated areas of the county to public viewing of fireworks. Fireworks displays must be viewed from one’s home or parked vehicle,’ he said.
Coronavirus cases are climbing rapidly among young adults in a number of states where bars, stores and restaurants have reopened. Young people have started going out again, many without masks, in what health experts see as irresponsible behavior.
TEXAS: Texas Governor Greg Abbott gave bars in the state until midday on Friday to close down as officials scramble to contain outbreaks amid record spikes in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Pictured above is the crowded Handlebar in Houston, Texas last month
FLORIDA: Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation told bars to immediately stop serving alcohol on their premises on Friday. Pictured is Lynch’s Irish Pub in Jacksonville Beach where several people tested positive for the virus after going to the bar
So far, there have been more than 122,000 cases in Florida of the coronavirus, which has been blamed for more than 3,300 deaths.
Florida had passed 100,000 coronavirus cases on Monday as the mayor of the city of Miami Francis X. Suarez blamed recently reopened restaurants for the recent surge.
Governor Ron DeSantis joined Republicans who claimed the uptick has come from an increase in testing.
However, the Miami Herald reports that through June 3, new cases had consistently trended upwards since mid-May, and the influx could not be attributed solely to increased testing.
DeSantis also blamed new cases on ‘overwhelmingly Hispanic laborers,’ because of migrant workers forced to live and work in cramped conditions. Farm workers’ associations hit back at the governor, saying he has repeatedly ignored their pleas to help the vulnerable demographic.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly said the surge in new cases is down to increased testing. He tweeted Thursday night that deaths are ‘way down’ and that America’s mortality rate was ‘one of the lowest in the world’.
Health officials have warned that while deaths appear to be declining, it could potentially shoot back up again because fatality rates often lag behind infection rates.
Texas had been at the forefront of states peeling away restrictions designed to control the deadly pandemic and kickstart their economies again.
Governor Greg Abbott gave bars in Texas until midday on Friday to close down. Texas had been at the forefront of states peeling away restrictions designed to control the deadly pandemic and kickstart their economies again. Gov Abbott allowed bars to reopen in May when revelers flouting social distancing rules celebrated Memorial Day weekend
It has since witnessed one of the biggest increases in new cases in the US after reporting a record 5,996 on Thursday and more than 17,000 confirmed new cases in the last three days. The state has seen a record number of hospitalizations for 13 straight days.
Gov. Abbott did not say when bars might reopen again. The bars that are affected are ones that get 51 percent of their gross receipts from alcohol.
The shuttering of rafting and tubing businesses comes after people consistently packed waterways since the state reopened in May and ahead of the Fourth of July holiday weekend that typically sees big turnouts.
‘As I said from the start, if the positivity rate rose above 10%, the State of Texas would take further action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,’ Abbott said. ‘At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars.’
The state’s rolling infection rate hit nearly 12 percent, a level not seen since the state was in a broad lockdown in mid-April.
The surge in hospitalizations has resulted in the largest pediatric hospital in the country opting to start treating adult patients in Houston to help free up beds. Statewide, the number of COVID-19 patients has more than doubled in two weeks.
The spike in cases prompted officials in Harris County, which encompasses the city of Houston, to initiate another stay-at-home order for residents.
The turnaround from Abbott came soon after he announced on Thursday that he was halting elective surgeries in the largest counties and said the state would ‘pause’ its aggressive reopening weeks after he began lifting restrictions.
His initial pause on reopening was not supposed to roll back previous orders that allowed much of the economy to reopen. The state was among the first in the country to begin lifting its lockdown measures on May 1.
Until this week, Abbott had maintained that worsening trends in June were a matter of concern but not alarm. He quickly struck a newly urgent tone this week, urging people to stay home while warning that a ‘massive outbreak’ is sweeping through Texas.
He has also now urged Texans to wear masks in public but stopped short of issuing a statewide mask order. The state’s cities and counties have imposed new orders on businesses to require customers and workers to wear face coverings after Abbott initially prohibited local officials from fining or penalizing anyone for not wearing a mask.
TEXAS: Revelers crowded into this Whiskey Tango Foxtrot bar in Austin, Texas last month after Gov Abbott initially lifted restrictions
Under the newest rollbacks in Texas, bars must close from noon on Friday and restaurant dining rooms must scale back to half capacity starting on Monday. Pictured above are two packed bars in Austin, Texas last month
Fauci pleads with young people who feel ‘invulnerable’ to the coronavirus to consider who they might harm if they catch it at bars in restaurants
Dr. Anthony Fauci offered a stark warning to young Americans Friday about the role they might play in the spread of the coronavirus, even if they consider themselves unlikely to suffer the worst effects of the disease.
‘If you get infected you are part innocently or inadvertently of propagating the dynamic processes of a pandemic,’ he said.
Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, made a point of addressing remarks to young people at the first coronavirus task force briefing in two months.
There has been a sharp drop in the age of infected people, and multiple officials warned Friday about concerns younger people would transmit the virus amid states opening up and relaxing social distancing.
‘When you have an outbreak of an infectious disease, it’s a dynamic process that is global,’ Fauci said.
‘I just want to bring this out without making it seem that anybody is at fault, you have an individual responsibility to yourself – but you have a society responsibility, because if we want to end this outbreak, really end it and then hopefully when a vaccine comes and puts the nail in the coffin – we’ve got the realize that we are part of the process.’
‘When you get infected, you will infect someone else who clearly will infect someone else,’ he said.
Fauci said the most challenging thing about COVID-19 was the high percentage of people who don’t show symptoms but still spread the virus.
That means young people going out to restaurants or bars as states reopen could be spreading the virus without even knowing it.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis resisted calls again on Friday to mandate masks statewide.
‘We are where we are,’ DeSantis said, adding that many of the new cases are in younger, healthier people who are out socializing more.
He said people can avoid spreading the virus by wearing masks, along with avoiding big crowds and not being within close quarters with lots of other people indoors.
Arizona Gov Doug Ducey, also a Republican, is also telling residents to stay home and on Thursday declared the state was ‘on pause’ as hospitals accelerate toward capacity.
The number of infections in Arizona surged again on Thursday with just over 3,000 new cases reported. In Arizona, 23 percent of tests conducted over the past seven days have been positive, nearly triple the national average.
There are currently 4,400 people hospitalized in the state with coronavirus and 1,400 of those are in ICU beds. A record 415 patients are on ventilators in the state.
Arizona is nearing hospital bed capacity with 88 percent of ICU beds occupied as of Thursday.
In Arizona, Ducey had resisted pressure to close restaurants as the virus first spread back in March, saying the state wasn’t seeing explosive growth like New York and didn’t need to act so aggressively. The Democratic mayors of Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff and elsewhere imposed their own restrictions.
The governor responded with an executive order closing restaurants in counties with known coronavirus infections but also defining some businesses cities couldn’t restrict, including golf courses.
Last week, under extreme pressure to act as COVID-19 cases soar, Ducey gave local leaders the power to require masks, while avoiding making it a statewide mandate.
The numbers ‘continue to go in the wrong direction,’ Ducey said on Thursday.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, has warned of another potential lockdown due to surging cases in his state. He said he would only shut down businesses again if the health care system became seriously strained.
In California, 5,349 new cases were reported on Thursday – down from the record 7,100 new cases a day earlier. Hospitalizations have also reached record highs across the state with about 1,500 suspected or confirmed patients requiring intensive care.
While Newsom said part of the rise was due to testing, much is the result of people failing to engage in safe practices when gathering with friends and family, or visiting newly reopened businesses.
Los Angeles County now has the most cases of all US counties with more than 85,000 confirmed infections. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti this week urged residents to stay home and wear masks while out in public.
As an alarming coronavirus resurgence sets records for confirmed cases and hospitalizations across the South and West, governors are retreating to measures they once resisted and striking a more urgent tone.
‘I think they’re going to have to,’ said Dr Mark McClellan, former head of the Food and Drug Administration. ‘It doesn’t take most people in a community getting sick to overwhelm health care systems.’
Critics bristle that the actions are too little, or worse, possibly too late as patients fill up intensive-care beds and the US closes in on hitting all-time highs for daily confirmed cases.
While newly confirmed infections have been declining steadily in early hot spots like New York and New Jersey, several other states set single-day records this week, including Arizona, California, Mississippi, Nevada, Texas and Oklahoma. Some of them also broke hospitalization records, as did North Carolina and South Carolina.
ARIZONA CASES: The number of infections in Arizona surged again on Thursday with just over 3,000 new cases reported
ARIZONA DEATHS: Arizona recorded 27 new deaths on Thursday, compared to the 67 deaths recorded on May 8
ARIZONA HOSPITALS: There are currently 4,400 people hospitalized in the state with coronavirus and 1,400 of those are in ICU beds
ARIZONA ICU CAPACITY: Arizona is nearing hospital bed capacity with 88 percent of ICU beds occupied as of Thursday
CALIFORNIA: In California, 5,349 new cases were reported on Thursday – down from the record 7,100 new cases a day earlier. Hospitalizations have also reached record highs across the state with about 1,500 suspected or confirmed patients requiring intensive care
Following a weeks-long plateau, new cases are once again back to where they were in April. The number of infections across the US rose by nearly 40,000 on Thursday in the largest single-day increase since the pandemic started
The United States neared 125,000 deaths from COVID-19 on Friday. A spike of 2,490 was recorded on Thursday due to New Jersey reported 1,796 probable deaths for the first time
Coronavirus cases surge among young Americans with outbreak clusters linked to bars and parties across the country
Health officials warn coronavirus cases are climbing rapidly among young adults in a number of states where bars, stores and restaurants have reopened – a disturbing generational shift that not only puts them in greater peril than many realize but poses an even bigger danger to older people who cross their paths.
In Oxford, Mississippi, summer fraternity parties sparked outbreaks. In Oklahoma City, church activities, fitness classes, weddings and funerals seeded infections among people in their 20s, 30s and 40s.
In Iowa college towns, surges followed the reopening of bars. A cluster of hangouts near Louisiana State University led to at least 100 customers and employees testing positive.
In East Lansing, Michigan, 51 people have tested positive for coronavirus after going to a bar that reopened at 50 percent capacity two weeks ago.
Health officials say the cluster of cases has been linked to the Harper’s Restaurant and Brewpub in Lansing in Ingham County. All of the people with cases linked to Harper’s are between the ages of 19 and 23. A number are connected to Michigan State University.
A cluster of about 300 teenagers are also believed to have been exposed to COVID-19 at a ‘pongfest’ party in Travis County, Texas on June 20.
There and in states like Florida, Texas and Arizona, young people have started going out again, many without masks, in what health experts see as irresponsible behavior.
Texas Gov Abbott has now ordered rafting and tubing outfitters on Texas’ popular rivers to close and said that outdoor gatherings of 100 people or more must be approved by local governments
In East Lansing, Michigan, 51 people have tested positive for coronavirus after going to a bar that reopened at 50 percent capacity two weeks ago
Health officials say the cluster of cases has been linked to the Harper’s Restaurant and Brewpub in Lansing in Ingham County. All of the people with cases linked to Harper’s are between the ages of 19 and 23. Data shows that 24 percent of Ingham County’s 888 COVID-19 cases are people aged between 20 and 29
‘The virus hasn’t changed. We have changed our behaviors,’ said Ali Mokdad, professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. ‘Younger people are more likely to be out and taking a risk.’
Elected officials have argued against reimposing restrictions, saying many of the newly infected are young and otherwise healthy.
But younger people, too, face the possibility of severe infection and death. In the past week, two 17-year-olds in Florida died of the virus.
Authorities worry that older, more vulnerable people are next.
Health experts say the fact that younger people – who have so far been less likely to be hospitalized – are now accounting for a large number of the new cases could have have an impact on the death toll in several weeks.
They point to the fact that young people could currently be infecting their elderly relatives and other at-risk people, which could drive up hospitalizations and deaths.
‘People between the ages 18 and 50 don’t live in some sort of a bubble,’ Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt said.
‘They are the children and grandchildren of vulnerable people. They may be standing next to you at a wedding. They might be serving you a meal in a restaurant.’
Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that almost as soon as states began reopening, people 18 to 49 years old quickly became the age bracket most likely to be diagnosed with new cases.
Although every age group saw an increase in cases during the first week in June, the numbers shot up fastest among 18- to 49-year-olds.
For the week ending June 7, there were 43 new cases per 100,000 people in that age bracket, compared with 28 cases per 100,000 people over 65.