On Sunday, there were 453 covid-19 deaths reported in the U.S., according to the Covid Tracking Project — the lowest daily toll recorded since late March. Yet unfortunately, there are signs in several parts of the country that the pandemic is getting worse, including in states that have reopened businesses and public spaces.
Texas, for instance, reported that 2,153 residents were hospitalised with covid-19 as of early Wednesday, setting a new high in total hospitalisations in the state for the third straight day. North Carolina reached a new record in hospitalisations Monday as well, while other states such as Arizona, Arkansas, and Georgia are seeing steady increases in hospitalised patients. Overall, according to data compiled Monday by the Washington Post, 14 states and Puerto Rico — including all the states already mentioned here — currently have a seven-day rolling average of daily new cases higher now than any other point since the pandemic started.
Some of the increase in these states is due to more testing. But that can’t explain the whole picture, since some states are also reporting a plateau or increase in the rate of tests that come back positive, in addition to increasing hospitalisations. Arizona in particular is experiencing a tight squeeze on its intensive care units, with around 75% of its ICU beds currently occupied, according to state health department data.
Meanwhile, the Northeast continues to experience a steady decline in new cases, hospitalisations, and deaths. New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, for instance, all reported fewer new daily cases yesterday than Texas or Arizona, despite having more cases in total.
The hard-hit state of New York has begun reopening after sustained, significant declines in new cases and hospitalisations. Hopefully, other states will be able avoid the peak experienced by New York. Some modelling data suggests that as many as 5% of New York residents were infected at once during the height of the state’s outbreak, while the same may be true for 0.2% for Texas residents or 0.6% of people in Arizona currently.
But these spikes are largely happening in places that had earlier reopened and lifted restrictions on distancing. Texas in particular was one of the first states to do so, a little over a month ago, and its spike in hospitalisations has come two weeks after Memorial Day. As more of the country has reopened since, it’s likely that we’ll continue to see increases in new cases, hospitalisations, and deaths in these or other pockets of the country, even as other states see improvements.