As US Coronavirus Cases Surge, Texas, Arizona, and Nevada Hit New Records

Karen Pierog, Susan Heavey, and Lisa Lambert

June 23, 2020

(Reuters) - For a second consecutive week, Texas, Arizona and Nevada set records in their coronavirus outbreaks, and 10 other states from Florida to California were grappling with a surge in infections.

Texas reported over 5,000 new infections on Monday, a single-day record for the state. It has also seen COVID-19 hospitalizations hit record highs for 11 days in a row.

The Texas Children's Hospital is admitting adult coronavirus patients due to a spike in serious COVID-19 cases in the Houston area.

"We know COVID-19 has not gone away. We implore you to take responsible actions – practice appropriate social distancing, wear a mask or face covering anytime you leave your home," the Texas Children's Hospital said in a statement, without specifying how many coronavirus patients they admitted.

While the United States appeared to have curbed the outbreak for several weeks in May, overall cases rose 25% last week with 10 states reporting a greater than 50% rise in new infections, according to a Reuters analysis.

The European Union is prepared to block Americans from entering because the United States has failed to control the coronavirus pandemic, the New York Times reported on Tuesday, citing draft proposals of potential new travel restrictions.

The United States, which accounts for about a quarter of the world's coronavirus cases and deaths and with new infections on the rise, would be in the same category as No.2 hotspot Brazil and Russia, according to the Times, citing the proposal.

In March, as cases surged in Europe, President Donald Trump banned most EU citizens from entering the United States in a bid to curb the outbreak, sparking outrage from EU leaders.

Louisiana, Mississippi See Spikes

Arizona and Nevada reported record increases in new cases on Tuesday after recording all-time highs last week, according to a Reuters tally. Louisiana, which was a hotspot early in the U.S. outbreak, reported over 1,300 new cases on Tuesday - its highest level since April 7. Neighboring Mississippi reported a record number of new cases on Tuesday, its highest in two weeks.

While most states are increasing testing, the percentage of tests coming back positive is also rising. At least four states are averaging double-digit rates of positive tests for the virus: Arizona at 20%, Florida and Utah both at 11%, and Texas at 10%. By contrast, New York, formerly the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, has been reporting positive test rates of around 1%.

The World Health Organization considers positivity rates above 5% to be especially concerning.

Trump on Tuesday held fast to his claim that the spike in U.S. cases in multiple states was due to testing, not increased spread of the disease.

Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease official, said he was seeing a disturbing surge in several states, pointing to community spread as one reason infections were on the rise.

Many of these states are also seeing record hospitalizations - a metric not affected by increased testing.

In Arizona, hospitalized COVID-19 patients hit a record of over 2,100 on Tuesday, up 70% from two weeks ago. Only 16% of its intensive care unit beds remain available, according to a state website.

Days after his first rally since early March drew a smaller-than-expected crowd in Oklahoma, where COVID-19 cases also are climbing fast, Trump travels to Arizona on Tuesday for another rally and to tout the construction of a border wall.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who is expected to challenge Trump in the Nov. 3 election, called the president's plans to speak to thousands of supporters in Phoenix "reckless and irresponsible."