The United States reported more than 50,000 new coronavirus cases Wednesday – a record high for a single day, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Many states are struggling to contain the spread of the pandemic, blamed in part on Americans not wearing masks or following social distancing rules.
Surging numbers in California prompted Governor Gavin Newsom to announce just ahead of the Fourth of July weekend that he was closing bars, theaters and indoor restaurant dining over most of the state, a region that includes about 30 million people and Los Angeles County.
“The bottom line is the spread of this virus continues at a rate that is particularly concerning,” Newsom said.
Confirmed cases in California have increased nearly 50% over the past two weeks, and COVID-19 hospitalizations have gone up 43%. Newsom said California had nearly 5,900 new cases and 110 more deaths in just 24 hours.
Infections have also been surging in states including Arizona, Texas and Florida, which recorded more than 6,500 new cases. Counties in South Florida were closing beaches to fend off large July Fourth crowds that could further spread the virus.
“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.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said last week he should not have rushed ahead with reopening bars.
“If I could go back and redo anything, I would slow down the re-opening of bars,” Abbott told ABC affiliate KIVA in El Paso. He said that a “bar setting, in reality, just doesn’t work with a pandemic.”
As cases rise in states nationwide, new infections in some eastern states, including New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Jersey, are slowing down significantly. New Jersey is going ahead Thursday with allowing its famous Atlantic City casinos to reopen.
President Donald Trump seemed confident the coronavirus would soon subside.
“I think we are going to be very good with the coronavirus,” he told Fox Business. “I think that, at some point, that’s going to sort of just disappear, I hope.”
The U.S. has now reported nearly 2.7 million cases and more than 128,000 dead. Globally there have been 10.7 million coronavirus cases and more than 516,000 have died due to the virus, according to Johns Hopkins’ count. The true toll of the pandemic is believed to be significantly higher, in part because of limited testing and mild cases that have been missed.
The U.S. isn’t the only country that saw a record-breaking number of new infections Thursday. Authorities in South Africa reported 8,124 new cases, a new daily record. The country has the most cases in Africa with more than 159,000, as it loosens what had been one of the world’s strictest lockdowns.
Johannesburg is a new hot spot with hundreds of health workers infected and Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg, has more than 45,000 confirmed cases. The African continent has more than 405,000 confirmed cases overall.