Coronavirus cases spike in US deep south, west states

Twenty-two US states have seen a surge in cases of COVID-19 despite a push from the very top to reopen the country in the middle of a pandemic.

As well as the 22 states where virus numbers are seeing an upward swing, 13 states are making no progress in combating the coronavirus.

It comes as new figures show just how isolated the United States is at the top of the coronavirus deaths list.

As of Sunday, the US has had more than 119,800 deaths. The next closest is Brazil with 50,000, the UK with 42,600, Italy with 34,000 and France with more than 29,600.

Modelling by the New York Times shows that states are struggling to combat the virus.

Places like California, Texas, Florida, Georgia and Alabama have seen sharp rises in the last 14 days. The country’s Deep South and west have been worst affected.

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Arizona reported more than 3100 new infections on Saturday, just short of Friday’s record, and 26 deaths. Nevada also reported a new high of 445 cases.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Sunday the total of confirmed cases rose to 10,515 from 10,037 a day earlier.

The state’s previous record of 450 new cases in one day was set on Thursday.

In Alabama, as in much of the Deep South, the spike in cases is being attributed to people failing to heed warnings.

Over the past two weeks, Alabama had the second highest number of new cases per capita in the nation. South Carolina was fourth. Louisiana and Mississippi were also in the top 10.

“We are extremely concerned about these numbers. We know if they continue, we will see more hospitalisations and more deaths,” Alabama State Health Officer Scott Harris said.

As of Saturday, Alabama had more than 29,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with more than a quarter of the cases reported in the last two weeks.

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The Times reports that Americans are struggling with restrictions and authorities are trying to reopen too early.

“American life has been fundamentally reordered because of the virus,” the Times reports. Concerts, parades and baseball games have been called off. Unemployment claims have spiked. And in some states that reopened early, case levels have surged anew.”

Faith in President Donald Trump to beat the virus took a hit when he told a rally in Tulsa on Saturday that the US should slow testing because it was returning too many positive cases.

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro played the comments down, claiming Mr Trump was being “tongue in cheek” when he told the Oklahoma crowd that he asked officials to slow down coronavirus testing.

The acting US homeland security secretary backed Mr Trump’s handling of the pandemic, telling NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday that he thinks the Trump administration is doing a “great job” with reopening the country despite infections rising in key states.

Chad Wolf told the program the White House coronavirus task force has been working with governors to make sure the US “can open up this economy in a safe and reasonable way” and “I think that’s what we’re seeing”.

Mr Wolf said the White House task force was “on top of all of these outbreaks”, including in Arizona, Texas, Florida and other states that “are having hot spots”.

He says the Trump administration has sent medical equipment, staff and Department of Homeland Security personnel to many areas to assist with reopening efforts.

The United States has tested over 25 million people for the novel coronavirus.

The country has reported more than 2.2 million confirmed cases and about 120,000 COVID-19 deaths. according to a count by Johns Hopkins University.

The real numbers are believed to be higher.

– with wires

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