America logged its highest single-day coronavirus death total of the summer on Wednesday, as the toll from an earlier surge in cases in Sun Belt states continued to mount.
At least 1,470 deaths were tallied on Wednesday, The New York Times reported. With the exception of three anomalous days this summer (when New York and Texas reported large numbers of backlogged COVID-19 deaths from unspecified days), that death total was the country’s highest since late May, the newspaper said.
Wednesday’s deaths were concentrated in Sun Belt states that have witnessed dramatic coronavirus case spikes in June and July, the Times reported. Even as case counts have started to level off or drop in some of those states, deaths have stayed high. On Wednesday, more than 300 deaths were recorded in Texas, while more than 200 were confirmed in Florida. Arizona, California and Georgia all reported more than 100 COVID-19 deaths each, the newspaper said.
For the past two weeks, the country has averaged more than 1,000 deaths per day, more than twice as many as recorded in early July. Because some people do not die until weeks after contracting the virus, death counts can remain high long after new cases start falling, the newspaper noted.
Where did all the new cases start this summer? New data shows that many of the community outbreaks of coronavirus that have plagued the United States in recent months have originated in restaurants and bars.
In Louisiana, roughly a quarter of the state’s 2,360 cases since March that were outside of places like nursing homes and prisons had their origins in bars and restaurants, the Times reported. Meanwhile, 12% of new coronavirus cases in Maryland last month were traced to restaurants, while 9% of cases in Colorado have been traced to bars and restaurants, the newspaper said.
Whether the infections started among workers or patrons is unclear, but the clusters concern health officials because many restaurant and bar employees are in their 20s and can silently fuel household transmissions, the Times reported.
This summer, scores of restaurants, including ones in Nashville, Las Vegas, Atlanta and Milwaukee, have had to close temporarily because of COVID-19 cases among employees, the Times reported. Texas and Florida also had to shut down bars following surges in new cases in those states.
Indoor dining remains banned in New York City and other places because it has proved far more dangerous than outdoor eating. Public health experts agree that indoor dining, especially in bars, is far more likely to spawn outbreaks than outdoor settings.
As schools reopen, COVID cases among kids on the rise
With millions of American children soon returning to school this month, a new study shows that at least 97,000 kids were infected with COVID-19 during the last two weeks of July.
According to the new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, at least 338,000 U.S. children had tested positive through July 30, the Times reported. That means that more than a quarter of those cases had come up positive in the second half of July alone.
Already, some schools have tried to reopen and then had to order quarantines or close after COVID-19 cases were reported among students and staff, the Times reported. North Paulding High School in Georgia, which gained national attention last week after videos of crowded hallways made their way onto social media, temporarily switched to online instruction this week after at least nine coronavirus cases were reported there.
In the new report, states in the South and West accounted for more than 7 of 10 infections. The count could be higher because the report did not include complete data from Texas and parts of New York State outside of New York City.
There were differences in how states classified children: Most places cited in the report considered children to be no older than 17 or 19. But in Alabama, the age limit was 24, while it was only 14 in Florida and Utah, the Times reported.
Though public health officials say that most children do not get severe illness, a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that a new, more dangerous COVID-19 condition known as Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children has struck children of color far more often than whites.
From early March through late July, the CDC received reports of 570 young people — ranging from infants to age 20 with the condition, the Times reported. Of those, 40 percent were Hispanic or Latino, 33 percent were Black and 13 percent were white. Ten died and nearly two-thirds were admitted to intensive care units, the report found.
By Thursday, the U.S. coronavirus case count surpassed 5.2 million as the death toll neared 166,000, according to a Times tally.
According to the same tally, the top five states in coronavirus cases as of Thursday were: California with over 595,000; Florida with nearly 551,000; Texas with over 529,000; New York with over 427,400; and Georgia with over 209,600.
Nations grapple with pandemic
Elsewhere in the world, the situation remains challenging.
On Wednesday, India has passed Britain to have the fourth-highest death toll in the world from the coronavirus, after the United States, Brazil and Mexico, the Washington Post reported.
India now has almost 2.4 million confirmed cases of the infection and at least 47,000 deaths, a John Hopkins tally shows. In the last 24 hours, 942 more deaths were reported. Britain remains the worst-hit country in Europe, the Post reported.
Brazil is also a hotspot in the coronavirus pandemic, with nearly 3.2 million confirmed infections by Thursday, according to the Hopkins tally. It has the second-highest number of cases, behind only the United States.
Cases are also spiking wildly in Russia: As of Thursday, that country reported the world’s fourth-highest number of COVID-19 cases, at over 905,700, the Hopkins tally showed.
Even New Zealand, a country that hasn’t seen a new coronavirus case is 100 days, reported 13 new cases of community transmission on Thursday, the Post reported. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern warned that the tally will no doubt go up.
“Once you identify a cluster, it grows before it slows,” Ardern told reporters. “We should expect that to be the case here.”
Each of the new cases is linked back to four members of an Auckland family who were the first New Zealand residents to become infected in more than three months. Ardern said that it was a good sign that the new cases were all part of the same cluster.
After lifting lockdown restrictions, New Zealand is once again asking people to stay home, and restricting Auckland residents to essential trips.
Worldwide, the number of reported infections passed 20.6 million on Thursday, with nearly 750,000 deaths, according to the Hopkins tally.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on the new coronavirus.