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Colorado still bucking trend as US virus cases surge to highest level in 2 months

(WCAX)
Published: Jun. 24, 2020 at 6:03 AM MDT
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New coronavirus cases in the U.S. have surged to their highest level in two months and are now back to where they were at the peak of the outbreak.

The U.S. on Tuesday reported 34,700 new cases of the virus, according to a tally compiled by Johns Hopkins University that was published Wednesday. There have been only two previous days that the U.S. has reported more cases: April 9 and April 24, when a record 36,400 cases were logged.

New cases in the U.S. have been surging for more than a week after trending down for more than six weeks. While early hot spots like New York and New Jersey have seen cases steadily decrease, the virus has been hitting the south and west. Several states on Tuesday set single-day records, including Arizona, California, Mississippi, Nevada and Texas.

Colorado remains an anomaly for the western region, being one of only two states -- New Mexico the other --

Gov. Jared Polis noted in a June 18 news conference that Colorado was the "only state in the Pacific or Mountain time zone that's seeing a steady decline in cases."

Polis, however, says the trend in neighboring states greatly concerns him and continues to call on Coloradans not to become complacent, as the state's gains could easily be reversed.

"The bases are loaded," he said in the same news conference last week, likening the situation to a baseball game where Colorado was just one run up. "We have runners on base in Utah and Arizona, and it really depends on our behavior here in the next few weeks and months."

The governor jumped quickly on a modest uptick in the three-day moving average, which began increasing daily starting on the 16th, making last week the first week since late April to see cases rise. Though the rise was relatively small, over the weekend the governor extended the state's emergency declaration as a precaution. As of Tuesday, the three-day average has declined for four straight days.

(To view the three-day average and other state data, click here.)

A spokesperson for the state health department said fluctuation in case numbers isn't unexpected, and it would take longer to know whether the slight increase was a blip or a trend.

Troubling surges worsened Tuesday in several states, with Arizona, California, Mississippi, Nevada and Texas setting single-day records for new coronavirus cases

In Arizona, which on Tuesday reported a record 3,600 new infections, hundreds of young conservatives packed a megachurch to hear President Donald Trump’s call for them to back his reelection bid.

As he did at a rally in Oklahoma over the weekend, Trump referred to the virus with a pejorative term directed at its emergence in China.

Ahead of the event, the Democratic mayor of Phoenix, Kate Gallego, made clear that she did not believe the speech could be safely held in her city — and urged the president to wear a face mask. He did not. Trump has refused to wear a mask in public, instead turning it into a red-vs.-blue cultural issue.

Trump's surgeon general, Dr. Jerome Adams, has been pushing back on the idea that wearing a mask infringes on personal freedom.

"Some feel face coverings infringe on their freedom of choice -- but if more wear them, we'll have MORE freedom to go out," he tweeted.

In Texas, hospitals are feeling the strain as cases continue to break records daily. Texas Children's Hospital in Houston has said it is admitting adult patients to help free up hospital beds, and city officials have warned they may need to use a football complex as a coronavirus hospital. In San Antonio, one hospital is putting a pause on elective procedures to free up beds. Texas reported nearly 5,200 new cases and 4,092 patients hospitalized Tuesday -- the latter number the 12th straight day of record highs.

Florida topped 100,000 cases Monday as cases there continue to surge, particularly among the under 40s. The dramatic rise in cases prompted scientists at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania to call the state the potential next large epicenter.

That assessment was made June 17, when Florida was still under 86,000 cases.

Earlier Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci told Congress that the next few weeks are critical to tamping down the surge.

“Plan A, don’t go in a crowd. Plan B, if you do, make sure you wear a mask,” said Fauci, the infectious disease chief at the National Institutes of Health.

Worldwide, more than 9.2 million people have contracted the virus, including more than 477,000 who have died, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

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