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Coronavirus cases now rising in 40 U.S. states as Texas orders mandatory mask use

Record-setting 50,000 new COVID-19 cases in U.S.
Daily infections of COVID-19 continue to skyrocket in the U.S., with a record-shattering 50,000 new cases in a single day (July 1). As Jackson Proskow reports, the ongoing surge still hasn't fazed U.S. President Donald Trump.

Four U.S. states — Arizona, California, Florida and Texas — reported a combined 25,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases Thursday as the infection curve rose in 40 of the 50 states heading into the July Fourth holiday weekend.

With the number of daily confirmed coronavirus cases nationwide climbing past 50,000, an alarming 36 states saw an increase in the percentage of tests coming back positive for the virus.

Read more: Trump touts U.S. job gains as coronavirus cases hit record highs

“What we’ve seen is a very disturbing week,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease expert, said in a livestream with the American Medical Association.

In a major retreat that illustrated how dire things have become in Texas, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the wearing of masks across most of the state after refusing until recently to let even local governments impose such rules.

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The surge has been blamed in part on Americans not covering their faces or following other social distancing rules as states lifted their lockdowns over the past few weeks. Fauci warned that if people don’t start complying, “we’re going to be in some serious difficulty.”

Coronavirus: Trump says U.S. has COVID-19 ‘under control’ as total deaths pass 130,000
Coronavirus: Trump says U.S. has COVID-19 ‘under control’ as total deaths pass 130,000

The U.S. recorded 51,200 new confirmed cases Wednesday, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. That represents a doubling of the daily total over the past month and is higher even than what the country witnessed during the most lethal phase of the crisis in April and May, when the New York metropolitan area was easily the worst hot spot in the U.S.

All but 10 states are showing an upswing in newly reported cases over the past 14 days, according to data compiled by the volunteer COVID Tracking Project. The outbreaks are most severe in Arizona, Texas and Florida, which together with California have reclosed or otherwise clamped back down on bars, restaurants and movie theaters over the past week or so.

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Read more: U.S. sees more than 50,000 coronavirus cases in single day, setting a new record

Nebraska and South Dakota were the only states outside the Northeast with a downward trend in cases.

While some of the increases may be explained by expanded testing, other indicators are grim, too, including hospitalizations and positive test rates. Over the past two weeks, the percentage of positive tests has doubled in Georgia, Kansas, Montana, Michigan, Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi, South Carolina and Ohio. In Nevada, it has tripled. In Idaho, it is five times higher.

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In Texas, where new cases in the past two weeks have swelled from about 2,400 a day to almost 8,000 on Wednesday, the positive rate ballooned from 8% to 14.5%. In Arizona, it has gone from 5.7% to 10.3%.

Coronavirus: Trump says U.S. economy is ‘roaring back’ as they ‘put out the flames’ of COVID-19
Coronavirus: Trump says U.S. economy is ‘roaring back’ as they ‘put out the flames’ of COVID-19

Abbott, who in May began one of the most aggressive reopening schedules of any governor, ordered the wearing of masks in all counties with at least 20 COVID-19 cases.

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Abbott said in a video posted on Twitter that the state’s lower infection rate and case counts after his stay-home order in April might have led some to think the “coast was clear.”

But the number of people hospitalized in Texas because of COVID-19 has quadrupled since late May, after businesses began reopening.

Read more: Hundreds of teens exposed to coronavirus after attending Texas party, mayor confirms

“We are now at a point where the virus is spreading so fast, there is little margin for error,” Abbott said. “I know that wearing a face covering is not the convenient thing to do, but I also know that wearing a face covering will help us to keep Texas open for business. And it will help Texans earn the paycheck they need.”

The surge comes as Americans head into a Fourth of July holiday that health officials warn could add fuel to the outbreak by drawing big crowds. Many municipalities have canceled fireworks displays. Beaches up and down California and Florida have been closed.

Coronavirus: White House press secretary describes COVID-19 outbreaks in U.S. states as ’embers’
Coronavirus: White House press secretary describes COVID-19 outbreaks in U.S. states as ’embers’

Florida reported more than 10,000 new confirmed cases for the first time Thursday. That is six times higher than the daily count of less than a month ago. The state also reported 67 deaths for the second time in a week and 325 new hospitalizations, one of the biggest 24-hour jumps in Florida yet. Georgia likewise saw its biggest single-day increase yet, nearly 3,500 cases.

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“I’m discouraged because we didn’t act fast enough to shut things down, and we could have done a much better job getting a handle on the virus,” said Megan Archer, a 39-year-old woman from West Palm Beach, Florida, who lost her job with a county parks department during the outbreak.

Meanwhile, the government reported that U.S. unemployment fell to 11.1% in June as the economy added a solid 4.8 million jobs. But that figure may be outdated: The data was collected during the second week of June, before many states began to backtrack on restarting their economies.

Read more: Trump says he still believes coronavirus will ‘sort of just disappear’

Several Northeastern states have seen new infections slow down significantly, including New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Jersey, which allowed its Atlantic City casinos to reopen Thursday, though with no smoking, drinking or eating.

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Pennsylvania, an outlier among Northeastern states, reported its highest one-day total of new cases since May, with more than 830, more than one-quarter of them in Pittsburgh’s Allegheny County, which will impose a one-week shutdown of bars and restaurants and all gatherings of more than 25 people starting Friday.

Other states, like Colorado, a major summer destination where increases in infections have been less dramatic, are keeping a close eye on their neighbors.

“I’ve been watching that map. … We’re well aware of what’s going on around us and we’re very anxious,” said Dr. Michelle Barron, medical director of infection prevention and control at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital. “The next couple of weeks are critical.”

President Donald Trump on Wednesday seemed confident the virus would soon subside, telling Fox Business: “I think that, at some point, that’s going to sort of just disappear, I hope.”

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The U.S. has reported at least 2.7 million cases and more than 128,000 dead, the highest toll in the world. Globally there have been 10.7 million confirmed cases and over 517,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins’ count. The true toll is believed to be significantly higher, in part because of limited testing and mild cases that have been missed.