US authorities call for more social distancing amid Covid-19 surge
Miami, Jul 18 (efe-epa).- Officials in areas of the United States currently suffering the greatest impact of the coronavirus pandemic appealed to the public on Saturday to take social distancing guidelines seriously.
While Florida saw its 24-hour death toll dip below 100 for the first time in four days, Arizona set a new record Saturday with 147 fatalities.
In California’s Los Angeles County, home to 10 million people, the number of confirmed cases surpassed 150,000 on Saturday and deaths went above 4,000.
The US is the global center of the pandemic, with upwards of 3.65 million infections and 139,000 fatalities, according to the independent tally maintained by researchers at Johns Hopkins University.
The virus has spread at an explosive rate in Florida – with a record 15,300 new cases in a single day last Sunday – since the state began the second phase of re-opening a month ago.
Florida health authorities reported 10,328 new infections and 90 deaths on Saturday, bringing the state’s totals to 337,569 and 4,895, respectively.
The state’s southeast corner, comprising Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, accounts for more than a third of all cases and half of the deaths.
Between them, those three counties registered more than 5,100 new cases in the past 24 hours. And authorities are seeking ways of slowing the spread of the virus without returning to lockdown conditions.
Besides mask-wearing requirements, Miami-Dade residents face a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people and a countywide curfew of 10 pm. Neighboring Broward County has established an 11 pm curfew.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Saturday that an additional 30,000 vials of the coronavirus medication remdesivir will arrive in the state early next week.
That quantity of the drug is enough to treat up to 6,000 patients, he said.
DeSantis, who has been criticized for taking his cues on handling the pandemic from President Donald Trump, said that despite the alarming numbers, Florida is in “much better” shape than two weeks ago.
The proportion of Covid-19 tests coming back positive has declined from nearly 16 percent to around 11 percent, the governor said.
This week, the Center for Public Integrity, a news organization based in Washington, released an unpublished document from the White House coronavirus task identifying 18 states as being in the “red zone” for Covid-19 cases, defined as more than 100 new cases per 100,000 population last week.
A second, broadly overlapping “red zone” comprises 11 states where more than 10 percent of diagnostic test results came back positive for the presence of the virus.
Florida appears on both lists, as does Arizona, with 141,265 cases, 43 percent of them detected this month. The southwestern state’s death toll climbed by 147 Saturday to 2,730.
California, which has 366,164 cases and 7,457 fatalities, has experienced a resurgence of contagion even in places, notably San Francisco, that were quick to enact stringent lockdowns in March.
The mayor of the city by the bay, London Breed, is again asking her constituents to stay home as much as possible and avoid public gatherings.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has warned residents in his city that he might have to impose a new lockdown if the figures don’t begin to improve.
At the state level, California has already ordered many non-essential establishments, including bars and churches, to close again, yet the number of people hospitalized for Covid-19 has increased to 6,808, nearly 2,000 of them in intensive care.