America’s coronavirus crisis has taken a turn for the worse. More than 77,000 new cases were reported Thursday, beating the old single-day record by nearly 10,000. The daily death toll is more than 900, including a record 156 in Florida.
Meanwhile, the national debate over wearing masks is intensifying as large parts of the economy remain at a standstill.
The CDC announced its extending its no-sail order for cruise ships through September. That means ships at Port Miami will not be taking passengers any time soon and, if things here do not change soon, rollbacks may not be a choice.
“I also want to stress to them the severity and the seriousness that we find ourselves in,” Mayor Francis Suarez said Thursday.
Suarez said he’s meeting with business leaders Friday to discuss another citywide shutdown. “We’re not sure exactly if there are any tools left in the toolkit, frankly,” he said.
His neighbor to the east, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, said avoiding another lockdown depends on the actions of all Miami-Dade County residents. “If people don’t wear masks, the decision is going to be made for all of us because the trajectory we’ve been going on for the last couple of weeks is unsustainable,” Gelber said.
Florida does not have a state-wide mask order. Meanwhile, the governors of Arkansas and Colorado announced mask mandates of their own Thursday.
But in Atlanta, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is holding her ground after Georgia Governor Brian Kemp filed a lawsuit against her and the city council to block their mask mandate. Kemp said the order is more restrictive than his and claims Bottoms “exceeded her authority.”
“I am not afraid of the city being sued and I’ll put our policies up against anyone’s, any day of the week,” Bottoms said.
At least 15 cities and counties in Georgia had required masks, and many were upset, like the Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis, Jr., who said “it does not make sense” and he thinks everyone is “shocked” by what the Kemp has done.
Texas reported 129 coronavirus-related deaths Thursday, the state’s largest one-day toll so far. The number of new cases has topped the 10,000-mark. Houston is now getting help from teams of doctors and nurses sent by the U.S. Army and by New York State.
Dr. Rivan Melendez, of the Hidalgo County Health Authority, painted a picture of a healthcare system in chaos as beds fill up. “Things are so dire that people are being resuscitated on stretchers in the hallways. The night before last, I had four calls for four patients dying.”
Governor Greg Abbott said patients under 30 are a driving force behind the latest surge in cases.
Heather Valentine, a 24-year-old intensive care nurse, came down with COVID-19 and was released from the hospital this week. She was lucky enough to have a room with a window where her parents could visit. Unable to touch, they pressed hands against the glass.
“It’s really important to take every symptom very seriously because I could have ended up in a very bad condition,” Valentine said.
“How frightened were your parents?” CBS News asked. “My mom, this has been her worst nightmare since, you know, I’m on the front lines and I work with people with COVID. She’s been so scared for me.”
Melendez, who also recovered from COVID, said emotions run high for patients, their loved ones and the doctors and nurses on the front lines. He said at least six nurses he’s worked with have died and said the hospital he works at is doing its best to make more room for more COVID patients.