By Alex Segura Lozano
Los Angeles, Jun 25 (efe-epa).- The United States’ confirmed coronavirus cases continue to rise steadily in southern and western states like California, Arizona, Texas and Florida, prompting state authorities on Thursday to pause their economic reopenings and even warn that previously lifted pandemic restrictions may need to be reimposed.
Concerns about the spread of Covid-19 in the US are heightened after the number of confirmed cases climbed by more than 37,000 on Wednesday, a new single-day record.
The daily death toll, however, has been trending downward over the past seven weeks and currently averages less than 1,000 a day, far below the level of fatalities attributed to Covid-19 in late April, when the pandemic was at its peak in the New York City area.
One of the US states hardest hit at present is California, where the coronavirus hospitalization rate has grown by 32 percent over the past 14 days, Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said at a press conference on Thursday.
“To the extent we don’t see progress being made, and we’re not advancing the cause of public health and public safety, then we certainly reserve the right to put a pause in terms of advancing into the subsequent phase,” Newsom said, adding that stay-at-home orders could even be reimposed.
California was the first US state to order a lockdown, although it subsequently permitted a gradual resumption of economic activity.
The most-affected area of the state is Los Angeles County, which lately has been reporting more than 2,000 new cases per day.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has responded by urging residents to remain at home as much as possible to reduce the risk of infection.
“Wearing a face covering … practicing physical distancing, washing our hands and yes, still, as painful as it might feel, staying a home whenever we can is our best defense in saving lives,” he said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Texas, which is home to 29 million inhabitants, temporarily halted its plans for an additional economic reopening on Thursday due to a spike in new confirmed coronavirus cases (more than 5,500 new cases on Wednesday) and Covid-19-related hospitalizations (which have hit a record level for 13 straight days).
“This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase of opening our state for business,” Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, said in a statement.
The coronavirus surge is concentrated in the Houston and Dallas metropolitan areas, as well as in the cities of Austin, San Antonio and El Paso.
A total of 4,389 patients are currently hospitalized with Covid-19, up from 2,793 a week ago, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
The situation is similar in Florida, where more than 5,000 new confirmed cases have been reported for two days in a row. A total of 46 deaths were attributed to Covid-19 on Thursday in the Sunshine State.
The US thus far has had 2,411,413 confirmed coronavirus cases and 122,482 Covid-19-related deaths, more than double the totals of Brazil, the second hardest-hit country, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.
But different studies have indicated that the real number of cases is much higher.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, said in April that, based on a recent state-wide antibody study, up to 2.7 million New Yorkers may have been infected at some time with the novel coronavirus.
At the time Cuomo gave that estimate, the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the entire US stood at about 826,000.
On Thursday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, based on studies of blood samples collected nationwide, the real number of Americans infected with the coronavirus is probably around 20 million, or 6 percent of the population.