US surpasses two million coronavirus cases as states start to reopen

The United States hit a grim mark: two million confirmed cases of coronavirus.

The milestone comes as many states have started to reopen after months of quarantines, and some (like Florida and Texas) are reporting spikes in cases.

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More than 112,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S, the highest number of fatalities reported by any country so far. A model cited by the White House has said the death toll could reach 169,890 in October, with a possible range of 133,000 to 290,000 deaths.

“If the US is unable to check the growth in September, we could be facing worsening trends in October, November and the following months if the pandemic, as we expect, follows pneumonia seasonality,” Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine, said in a statement.

The new data reflects the difficulty of getting rid of the coronavirus in the US. While some early hot spots such as New York state states have registered a drop in the number of cases, the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 is rising fast in Texas, Arizona, Arkansas, and California.

Texas reported new records for hospitalizations due to coronavirus on three consecutive days this week, now with 2,153 hospitalized patients. The state has been one of the first to start lifting the lockdown measures, with Governor Greg Abbott moving ahead with a plan to increase the occupancy limits of bars and stores.

Meanwhile, Florida is also reporting a new surge, with more people testing positive for COVID-19 last Saturday than any day in the past two months. The state has reported more than 1,000 new cases every day since June 2, with the number of deaths from coronavirus dropping to double-digits.

The state entered its second phase of reopening last week, which does not place a limit on how many customers can be in stores or gyms and allows bars to serve half as many guests as they normally would. Social distancing is still encouraged at all businesses. However, the counties with the most infections were excluded from the new phase.

Optimistic for the future, Governor Ron DeSantis said he had volunteered several cities to be potential sites for the Republican National Convention, including Jacksonville, Orlando and Miami. “So this is almost three months out, I think we’re probably going to be able to pull it off,” DeSantis said.

The highest per capita rate of new infections was registered in Arizona, with an average of more than 1,000 new cases every day this week. The state’s health department said a quarter of the beds in intensive case are still available, underscoring the new surge across the state.

As of last month, all states had begun easing their coronavirus restrictions in the US, with only a few with stay-at-home orders still in place. This could suggest that more people are moving around and that the new increases in cases are real and not just a result of more testing.

With the new scenario, health experts ask people not to become complacent and to carefully follow habits that help to slow the coronavirus, such as washing hands, maintaining a physical distance of at least six feet from others, and wearing a face mask when in close contact.

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