July 24, 2020 – The United States has now reported more than 4 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, almost doubling the second highest number of 2.2 million cases in Brazil.
Southern and Western states continue to report record numbers of cases, particularly around the Gulf Coast. Although Florida and Texas have been the source of the surge in infections in recent weeks, an increase has also been reported in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, according to the New York Times.
Alabama set a daily record with 61 new COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday and a day-long record of 2,390 new cases on Thursday. Louisiana also overtook New York for the highest number of cases per capita, and Mississippi now has one of the highest increases in deaths in the country.
Public health officials are particularly concerned about small towns and rural areas in those states where hospital beds are limited and intensive care departments are already filling to capacity, the newspaper reported.
At the same time, cases are increasing in other parts of the country. California reported a record number of cases and deaths on Wednesday. Missouri, North Dakota and West Virginia have also reported record numbers of cases.
Officials are also monitoring 11 cities with an increase in cases: Baltimore, Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and St. Louis, according to Deborah Birx, MD, group coordinator. White House Coronavirus Working Group.
Birx mentioned the cities to a group of state and local health officials during a call Wednesday. A call recording was obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit journalism organization. Birx recommended that officials pay attention to testing positivity rates and act quickly in tracing contacts of people who test positive for the coronavirus.
“When you first see this increase in test positivity, that’s when you start mitigation efforts,” she says. “I know it might sound small and you can say, ‘It only went from 5 to 5 and a half [percent], and we’ll wait and see what happens. If you wait another three, four, or even five days, you will start to see a dramatic increase in the number of cases. “
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