In the meantime, states such as Arizona, Florida and Texas are all seeing record-high one-day increases in new coronavirus cases after reopening over the past few weeks.
According to The New York Times, on Tuesday, Florida reported 2,783 new cases, Texas 2,622 and Arizona 2,392. The trio of Sun Belt states are among 20 that have seen upticks in cases over the past two weeks.
Why numbers are rising has become a point of argument between politicians and scientists: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said in a news conference that the rise in cases in his state is largely due to more widespread testing. But epidemiologists have suggested that increased transmission, due to businesses such as restaurants and bars reopening, is the true cause.
Backing up their claim, epidemiologists point to a concurrent rise in many states of increased coronavirus hospitalizations, as well as a rise in the percentage of positive results from tests.
Concerns are also mounting over hospital bed capacity in states seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases. But according to the Times, Texas Governor Greg Abbott believes his state’s hospitals still have lots of capacity, even with 2,519 people hospitalized with the illness.
In New York, the former epicenter of the U.S. pandemic, Governor Andrew Cuomo on Sunday warned that a return to lockdown for his state was possible.
“If we have a high number of violations of the [reopening] policy, which is tantamount to a high likelihood of the spread of the virus, and the local governments are not monitoring policing, doing the compliance, yes, there is a very real possibility that we would roll back the reopening in those areas. The only alternative would be to pause the entire reopening,” Cuomo said at a news conference, CNN reported.
By Thursday, the U.S. coronavirus case count had passed 2.1 million as the death toll topped 117,000.
There was some good news on Tuesday, however. Researchers at Oxford University in England announced that dexamethasone, a widely used, low-cost steroid, appears to cut the death rate for ventilated COVID-19 patients by one-third. It also lowered the death rate for patients who require oxygen (but are not yet on a ventilator) by one-fifth, the Times reported.