Arizona recorded more coronavirus deaths, infections, hospitalizations and emergency-room visits in a single day than ever before in a crisis, in a day across the Sunbelt that sent a shudder through other parts of the country and led distant states to put their own reopening plans on hold.
In Florida, hospitals braced for an influx of patients, with the biggest medical center in Florida’s hardest-hit county, Miami’s Jackson Health System, scaling back elective surgeries and other procedures to make room for victims of the resurgence underway across the South and West, The Associated Press reports.
Vice President Mike Pence, head of the White House coronavirus task force, planned to visit Arizona today, where cases have spiked since stay-at-home orders expired in mid-May.
Arizona reported record single-day highs of almost 4,900 new Covid-19 cases, 88 new deaths, close to 1,300 ER visits and a running total of nearly 2,900 people in the hospital.
Florida recorded more than 6,500 new cases down from around 9,000 on some days last week, but still alarming and a running total of over 3,500 deaths.
Ahead of the Fourth of July, counties in South Florida are closing beaches to fend off large crowds that could spread the virus.
The run-up in cases has been blamed in part on what New Jersey’s governor called “knucklehead behavior” by Americans not wearing masks or obeying other social-distancing rules.
“Too many people were crowding into restaurants late at night, turning these establishments into breeding grounds for this deadly virus,” Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said in forbidding restaurants with seating for more than eight people from serving customers inside from midnight to 6am.
Health experts say the virus in Florida and other Southern states risks becoming uncontrollable, with case numbers too large to trace.
Marilyn Rauth, a senior citizen in Punta Gorda, said Florida’s reopening was “too much too soon.”
“The sad thing is the Covid-19 spread will probably go on for some time though we could have flattened the curve with responsible leadership,” she said.
“Experience now has shown most people won’t social distance at beaches, bars, etc. The governor evidently has no concern for the health of the state’s citizens.”
Some distant states and cities that seemed to have tamed their outbreaks, including Colorado, Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey, hit pause or backtracked on some of their reopening plans for bars and restaurants.
And New York and New Jersey are asking visitors from 16 states from the Carolinas to California to quarantine themselves for two weeks.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is delaying its resumption of indoor dining at restaurants, and not because of any rise in cases there.
The number of confirmed cases in the US per day has roughly doubled over the past month, hitting 44,800 on Tuesday, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
That is higher even than what the nation witnessed during the deadliest stretch of the crisis in mid-April through early May.