President Donald Trump has said the country will not close again as several US states reported new coronavirus cases on Wednesday.
“We won’t be closing the country again. We won’t have to do that,” TRUMP said in an interview.
Trump’s comments come after White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin both said the United States could not shut down the economy again.
In a call with governors, Vice President Mike Pence encouraged them to repeat the administration’s claim that increased testing accounts for the spike in numbers.
The paper’s analysis found that positive cases outstripped the average number of administered tests in at least 14 states.
States that reopened before us are now seeing their highest #COVID19 case counts.
This is proof that even though we're tired, we must persevere and continue precautions.
Please follow guidance, practice good health habits, and wear masks in public. https://t.co/LLp42p5c1Z
— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) June 17, 2020
Restaurants, gyms, schools and other locations closed down in March as the country braced for the coronavirus, which has so far sickened 2.16 million Americans and killed nearly 118,000.
Millions of Americans found themselves unemployed as a result of the pandemic. Trump had previously touted the strength of the economy, making it central to his re-election bid in November.
An uptick in coronavirus cases, high daily records
An uptick in coronavirus cases in many states over the past two weeks, along with rising COVID-19 hospitalisations, reflected a troubling national trend that has seen daily US infection numbers climbing after more than a month of declines.
Oklahoma reported a record 259 new cases over the previous 24 hours, while Florida reported more than 2,600 new cases and Arizona more than 1,800 — the second-highest daily increases for those two states.
Texas reported 3,100 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, its biggest single-day tally yet, along with another all-time high for COVID-19 hospitalizations — nearly 2,800 patients.
The daily count of infections also hit a new benchmark in California, with more than 4,000 cases recorded statewide on Wednesday.
June 17th, the US and #COVID19
Some people would call it a plateau.
Others will call it the 1st wave.
It is now at 80 days of >20,000 new cases/day
It is off the chart. It's a log scale.
The only country in the world
And now it's up-sloping. pic.twitter.com/RVo4M1BecG
— Eric Topol (@EricTopol) June 17, 2020
Los Angeles County alone reported its largest daily increase, over 2,100 new cases, though several hundred were attributed to a backlog in test results released all at once.
Coronavirus “super-spred event”
Trump’s political team, meanwhile, forged ahead with plans for a campaign rally on Saturday in Tulsa, his first such event since stay-at-home restrictions were imposed across much of the country in March to fight the coronavirus.
Public health experts worry that assembling thousands of shouting, chanting people inside an arena — particularly if many aren’t wearing masks — could turn the rally into a coronavirus “super-spreader event.”
Trump’s campaign advisers see the rally as a chance to strengthen his political base after a string of national and state opinion polls showed the president trailing Democratic rival Joe Biden.
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt said during a briefing on Wednesday that state officials were doing their utmost to ensure that the event is “safe as possible.”
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt said today that over 1 million requests have been made to attend the Tulsa rally on Saturday with President Trump.
— Ana Cabrera (@AnaCabrera) June 17, 2020
Oklahoma health officials recommend anyone attending the rally to get tested for the coronavirus before arriving, then to self-isolate afterwards and get tested again. The health commissioner urged those at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 — senior citizens and people with chronic underlying health conditions — to stay home.
Biden accused Trump of “surrendering” to the coronavirus pandemic and failing to stay prepared for a resurgence that could put a US economic recovery at risk.
In most of the states where cases are spiking, COVID-19 hospitalisations are also rising or at record highs. Unlike increases in new infections, rising hospitalizations cannot simply be attributed to greater testing.
In Arizona, 83% of intensive care beds are occupied which is a high record.
The Navajo reservation — overlapping parts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico — reinstated a weekend-long curfew that closes even essential businesses like grocery stores and gas stations.
While Texas has not reported how many of its hospitalized COVID-19 patients are admitted to intensive care units, 1,500 ICU beds are available statewide.
In Florida, some of the increase has been linked to newly reopened bars. In one case, 16 friends who celebrated a birthday at a bar without wearing masks all tested positive, according to media reports.
Texas has also pointed to bars as one cause of its current outbreak. In Oregon, over 200 new cases were tied to events at a single church.
For the United States as a whole, more than 2.1 million people are known to have been infected to date, including 117,000 who have died from COVID-19, by far the most of any country in the world.