One US state has reached a new high in coronavirus hospitalisations for the third time in four days as its government continues to ease restrictions.
On Friday (local time), 2,166 patients were in hospitals in Texas with COVID-19 - 13 more than the previous peak, which was reached on Wednesday.
The state’s overall virus death toll sits at 1939 after 19 deaths were reported on Friday. Officials also confirmed almost 2100 new infections, taking the number of cases in Texas to 83,680.
However, the actual number is likely higher because many people have not been tested. Studies have found that many people can be infected and not feel sick, so they may not seek testing.
The spike in cases prompted Houston’s top county official, Lina Hidalgo, to warn that “we may be approaching the precipice of a disaster.”
Meanwhile, the state went ahead with allowing restaurants to expand eat-in dining Friday to 75 per cent of capacity, up from 50 per cent.
“Oh, yeah, I’ve been concerned,” 32-year-old Renata Liggins said as she settled in front of a plate of brisket at Black’s Barbecue in Austin.
But “it just feels I can finally breathe a little bit,” Ms Liggins added.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott “is making pretty clear at this point he wants the economy to open,” a worried Austin Mayor Steve Adler said.
“My hope is that when he sees what kind of surge there’s going to be, he does act at a state level,” he said.
Cases soar while states reopen
Alabama, which began reopening in early May, has seen more than a quarter of the state’s 23,000 cases come in the past two weeks as Republican Gov. Kay Ivey emphasised personal responsibility.
Arkansas, which has seen both hospitalisations and active cases more than double since Memorial Day, reported its largest one-day spike in new coronavirus cases Friday.
Governor Asa Hutchinson said at least 11,547 people in the state have tested positive for the virus, an increase of 731 cases over Thursday.
Hutchinson said he expected more increases in the coming week but would press ahead with plans to further ease virus restrictions on businesses starting Monday.
Capacity limits will be increased for restaurants, bars, theatres and other businesses while other social distancing restrictions remain in place.
Arizona has become one of the most troubling hot spots in the US as new cases have surged to more than 1,000 a day, up from fewer than 400 before stay-at-home orders expired in mid-May.
“We are not going to be able to stop the spread, and so we can’t stop living as well,” Arizona Health Director Dr. Cara Christ said, while Republican Governor Doug Ducey has given assurances the health care system can handle it.
California, which implemented the country’s first statewide stay-at-home order, entered the most expansive phase of its gradual reopening Friday.
Wineries started uncorking their bottles and welcoming people back to their tasting rooms, and hotels, zoos, museums and aquariums were also allowed to reopen.
San Francisco restaurants resumed outdoor dining, and the San Diego Zoo opened on a limited basis.
Health officials in Oklahoma warned Friday that a spike in coronavirus cases in the Tulsa area is linked to indoor events and people who attend such gatherings should take health precautions.
The warning comes a week before President Donald Trump is scheduled to hold a campaign rally at the city’s BOK Center, which has a listed seating capacity of more than 19,000. Stephens said the warning was unrelated to the rally.
So far, only a small number of governors have shown a willingness to retreat, or at least hit pause.
Republican Gov. Gary Herbert of Utah and Democratic Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon said they would halt lifting further restrictions for the time being as new cases flare.
“As I’ve said before, reopening comes with real risk,” Brown said in announcing a one-week pause that will affect, among other places, Portland, the state’s biggest city.
She said the increase in positive test results was caused in part by the reopening of some counties. Oregon reported 178 new cases Thursday, the highest count since the outbreak began.
with Associated Press.
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