WASHINGTON • Florida has become the epicentre of the latest coronavirus surge in the United States as new cases continued to soar, while California, another hot spot, started to see improvement with cases of infections and hospitalisations stabilising.
The coronavirus pandemic continued raging in Florida on Monday as the southern state reported more than 10,000 new infections for a sixth day in a row, prompting its teachers union to sue Republican Governor Ron DeSantis over his plan to reopen schools for in-class instruction.
Another 92 people have died in Florida, raising the state’s death toll to 5,183.
Mr DeSantis, who has been sharply criticised for his handling of the crisis, said over the weekend that positivity rates and Covid-19-related emergency room visits have been trending lower in recent weeks.
In California, which emerged as another coronavirus hot spot in July, Governor Gavin Newsom said new infections, hospitalisations and intensive-care unit admissions were all still rising in the nation’s most populous state but not nearly at the pace of recent weeks.
“We are seeing a reduction in the rate of growth but a rate of growth nonetheless,” Mr Newsom, a Democrat, said at a briefing in the state capital Sacramento.
“Hospitalisations and ICU (admissions) continue to be cause of concern in this state. That’s why we want everybody to double down on what we’ve been doing,” he said.
Teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency arrived to pitch in at strapped Southern California hospitals.
“We were really pushed up last week to our limits. If we had continued to see accelerating number of cases coming into the hospital, something would have to give,” said Dr Allan Williamson, the chief medical officer at Eisenhower Medical Centre in Rancho Mirage, east of Los Angeles.
“So fortunately, the federal government, through the Department of Defence was able to step in and provide us some additional staffing, which has really helped us a lot,” Dr Williamson said.
Separately, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has more than once threatened to impose a new “stay-at-home” order in America’s second-largest city if trends were not reversed.
New York, which has recorded 32,000 deaths, far more than any other state in the US, recorded eight fatalities on Sunday.
The total number of people hospitalised in New York state for the disease fell to 716, the fewest since March 18, Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, said. Restrictions were eased slightly, with zoos and the Statue of Liberty reopening as well as professional sports but without fans.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, also a Democrat, imposed new clampdowns, including a ban on indoor service at bars and shutdown of personal services such as shaves and facials that require the removal of masks. “While we aren’t near the peak of the pandemic from earlier this year, none of us wants to go back there,” Ms Lightfoot said.
Metrics nationwide show a continued surge in the pandemic, with 32 states reporting record increases in Covid-19 cases in July and 15 states reporting record increases in deaths. The pandemic has killed more than 140,000 people in the US and infected some 3.9 million, both figures leading the world.
President Donald Trump, who had pushed back on mask requirements by state and local officials, on Monday posted a black and white photo of himself wearing one on Twitter.
“We are United in our effort to defeat the Invisible China Virus, and many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can’t socially distance. There is nobody more Patriotic than me, your favorite President!” Mr Trump said in a tweet.
He also said he would resume holding regular Covid-19 news briefings yesterday after stopping them in April.