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Explained: Why there has been a surge in US caseload and deaths

US Coronavirus cases: On Saturday, the US reported 66,627 cases, the highest daily spurt in infections since the pandemic began, raising the country's total to nearly 3.185 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University

Written by Abhishek De , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: July 13, 2020 9:35:29 am
A face mask covers the mouth and nose of one of the iconic lion statues in front of the New York Public Library Main Branch. (AP)

Following a period of brief lull in daily rise in Covid-19 infections in the US, cases have reached new highs fueled by sharp spikes seen in southern and western states of Texas, Florida, Arizona and California, which account for nearly 30 per cent of the caseload.

On Saturday, the US reported 66,627 cases, the highest daily spurt in infections since the pandemic began, raising the country’s total to nearly 3.185 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The US accounts for about a quarter of the 12.5 million cases reported globally.

In fact, the five-day average growth rate (CDGR) — a metric that factors in daily fluctuations and is, therefore, more representative of the trend — has jumped to 2 per cent from 1.6 per cent witnessed in the last week of June. Since July 4, cases have been growing at an average of 1.8 per cent every day.

What has compounded the challenge for the authorities is the rise in death count concurrently, surpassing 800 deaths in each of the past five days. More than 3,400 deaths have been reported in the past five days — double the number in the first five days of July.

READ | New York City reaches milestone with no reported virus deaths

However, it must be noted that the number of fatalities is still below the highs touched in April and May, when more than 2,000 people per day were regularly dying from the virus.

The death toll had started declining from the last week of April as a countrywide shutdown came into effect, with the US recording a low of 200 fatalities on July 5 — the lowest toll since March 24. However, since then the toll has been on an upswing, crossing 1,000 on two days this week.

Eight states have reported single-day death records this week: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Tennessee. Texas has seen Covid-19 deaths jump 20 per cent over the last week, while Florida has seen its death rate climb by 11 per cent. California has also seen a major increase in fatalities, reporting 12 per cent more this week.

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In terms of infections too, Texas, Florida, Arizona and California have seen record-breaking case numbers, with authorities bringing back restrictions to curtail the surge in hospitalisations.

Infact, the answer to the recent spike in US coronavirus cases can be gauged if one looks at the July numbers of the four states. In the first 10 days of July, US recorded 5,27,278 infections, with Texas, Florida, Arizona and California contributing nearly 55 per cent (290,700) of the caseload.

Florida has hit daily records twice in the last 10 days, and has surpassed 10,000 daily cases five times in that period, announcing 11,500 new infections on Saturday.

Texas, which has become one of the country’s worst hotspots, reported more than 10,000 new infections twice this week — the first time the state has reached the benchmark. One of the first US states to resume economic activities, Texas has added nearly 72,500 cases this month — the most in the US. Amid the precarious situation, Governor Greg Abbott signaled the possibility of a new “economic lockdown” if the state cannot curtail the caseload.

In California, where the number of people hospitalised with Covid-19 has doubled over the past month, infections have raced past 3,00,000 just two weeks after crossing the 2,00,000 mark. Despite having one of the strictest lockdowns, California saw a record rise in cases twice this week (July 5 – 11,800 cases; July 7 – 13,000 cases). California Governor Gavin Newsom has said the state’s seven-day average topped 8,000 new cases a day, its highest yet.

Even outside the nation’s three most populous states, cases are rising. Alabama, Montana and Wisconsin recorded their biggest one-day rise in cases

The sudden surge in coronavirus cases in the US has been best summed up by top health official Anthony Fauci, who recently said, “As a country, when you compare us to other countries, I don’t think you can say we’re doing great.”

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