After a week of skyrocketing cases of coronavirus in the United States, officials are giving a strong warning this Fourth of July: Skip the parties.
If you really have to walk, wear a mask, wash your hands and maintain social distance. And if you have to host, you can try to hold festivities outdoors and save the party’s information for future contact tracking if needed.
Coronavirus cases are rising in 36 states heading into the weekend with California, Arizona, Texas and Florida all posting record numbers of new infections this week.
The Florida Department of Health reported 11,445 new cases of Covid-1
Nationwide, the virus has killed more than 129,000 people and infected more than 2.8 million since the pandemic started, according to Johns Hopkins University. And for the third straight day Friday, the number of new cases exceeded 50,000 across the country.
Of the 36 states whose new cases have increased this week compared to the previous one, nine of them have increased by over 50%. They are Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana, Alaska and Delaware.
Despite the gloomy milestones, people yearn for some normal planning like grilling, dipping in lakes and gatherings to watch the fireworks. But some find beaches in Miami and Los Angeles closed, tubing in the Texas rivers forbidden, and some city celebrations happening mainly on living streams.
Without strict safety precautions, health experts fear that the weekend could bring a wave of new infections that can overwhelm hospitals. To avoid a public health disaster, they urge people to wear masks, skip bars and crowded places, and avoid interfering with people outside their households.
“What we do know is that our behavior is the most powerful tool we have right now against the virus,” Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, California Surgeon General. “And we really need people to, you know, step up. I know people are tired, but it is absolutely critical. “
Some beaches are open to entertainers, others are closed
Beaches in Huntington Beach, California, would usually be filled with beach guests this weekend. Just two weeks ago, on June 14, photos showed the beach filled with people, towels and umbrellas.
But on Saturday, the Los Angeles-area beaches are closed due to rising Covid-19 falls, and the beaches were left empty with large stretches of untouched white sand.
Renee Van Arsdale, who was cycling with her husband near the beach, told CNN that there would usually be a “sea of people” on the beach for Fourth of July.
“But today, most locals are just enjoying the beauty of the beach instead of being on the beach,” she said.
Her husband, Gary Van Arsdale, pointed out that the city of Huntington Beach must cancel its annual fourth parade in July. Instead, the city embarked on a neighborhood tour with caravans with small vehicles weaving through the streets with local dignitaries.
The beaches were open elsewhere, like New York’s Coney Island. There were also beach guests at Clearwater Beach, Florida, although there were fewer than typical for the holiday weekend.
At Clearwater, some had gathered in groups, according to a CNN crew at the scene, despite signs on the beach warning that they would not gather in groups of 10 or more. But many on the beach told CNN that they were taking some precautions like wearing masks and having hand sanitizer ready.
Locals Connor Gourley – who thought he had coronavirus earlier this year and recovered – told CNN he wasn’t “necessarily worried” about being on the beach. He did not intend to let concern about the virus prevent him from celebrating Independence Day, he said.
“It’s no longer about the party, it’s about celebrating America and our Independence Day,” he said. “So whatever we should be out here and we should be American and enjoy our freedom.”
Some officials have made small exceptions for the Fourth of July festivities, as long as people follow restrictions. In Harris County, Texas, Judge Lina Hidalgo issued a nationwide order banning outdoor collections of 10 or more except for a handful of activities, including fireworks.
The order, signed on Friday, says that fireworks and gatherings with more than 100 people are allowed only if people watch the celebration from inside a vehicle. The order will be valid until at least Wednesday, August 26. It also includes exceptions for gatherings of 10 or more people at religious services, youth camps, pools and certain sporting events.
“I think this is the real challenge we have,” Dr. Umair Shah, executive director of Harris County Public Health, told CNN Saturday. “It’s July 4th now. We should all come together as Americans to fight this pandemic. It will not just disappear. “
Healthcare workers are appealing to the governor
In Georgia, where coronavirus cases are ongoing, about 1,400 healthcare workers signed a letter to the IGC Brian Kemp asking him to increase state restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus.
In the letter dated Thursday, the governor was invited to close bars and nightclubs and to ban indoor meetings with more than 25 people, including at places of worship. It also recommends a state face protection requirement that allows mayors and civil servants to introduce requirements appropriate to their jurisdictions.
“During the past week we have seen a sharp peak in cases that cannot be accounted for by increased tests. We also see a very worrying increase in hospital admissions that, if they continue, will overwhelm our healthcare infrastructure, not only in metro Atlanta but also in rural Georgia, ”the letter states.
Dr. Jesse Couk, president of Infectious Diseases at the Shepherd Center and a physician at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, told CNN that he was working with other physicians and healthcare professionals to create the letter after he became frustrated with the lack of action following a spike in cases.
Couk and other medical contacts worked together to create the letter and get other healthcare professionals to sign it. He said he wanted to highlight the need for increased social distance and additional restrictions to slow the spread, and spoke as a member of the Infectious Disease Society of Georgia and not as a representative of Piedmont Atlanta.
More states are doing sweeping mask mandates
The masking mandate for Texas and Kansas came into effect Friday, which means that 19 states and Washington, DC, now have such requirements.
“We have the ability to keep companies open and move our economy forward so that the Texans can continue to earn a paycheck, but that requires us all to do our part … and that means having a face covering in public spaces,” Texas Gov. So Greg Abbott.
Other governors have also issued state orders, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois and Michigan. And in Tennessee, Governor Bill Lee signed an executive order granting mayors in 89 counties the authority to issue mask requirements. This allows local authorities to issue flood-control missions requiring more preventive measures.
“While our densely populated urban areas continue to have the highest Covid-19 cases, our local authorities expressed a need for greater flexibility in meeting an increase in cases and that includes stronger mask expectations,” Lee said in a statement. “This targeted strategy ensures that we protect both life and livelihoods and safely keep our economy open in Tennessee.”
In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the beaches will be open to thousands of visitors for the holiday weekend – but with a masked requirement to stop the spread, Mayor Brenda Bethune said.
US commercial laboratories report test delays
Increasing demand for Covid-19 tests has led some major commercial laboratories to report delays in reversing test results.
The test requirements have reached “unprecedented levels,” said commercial lab Quest Diagnostics this week, which led to delays in notifying customers of their results.
Although Quest can deliver results within a day for priority patients – including healthcare professionals and people in the hospital – the average wait time is three to five days for most other patients, the company said in a statement Monday.
While the number of tests conducted in the United States is increasing, experts say that long turnaround times can make it difficult to isolate confirmed cases and quickly quarantine their close contacts.
Another commercial laboratory, LabCorp, reports delays. The company told CNN in a statement Saturday that reporting results may take one to two days longer now, leading to a current waiting time of on average two to four days.
“In recent weeks, we have seen a steady increase in demand for molecular testing and we are doing everything we can to continue to deliver results in a rapid manner while continuously increasing test capacity,” LabCorp said.
Suggest a correction