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‘We’re right back at the peak of the epidemic’: Rushed reopening leads to US virus cases spiking again

Coronavirus-related hospitalisations rose to their highest levels to date in Arizona and Nevada.

The number of deaths and the morbidity rate, however, have not increased with the surge in new cases, in part because the spike in infections has been among younger, more resilient victims. And health officials say they now know more about the disease than they did when deaths were on the rise.

New coronavirus cases in Florida on Sunday exceeded 10,000 in a day for the third time in the past week, after the state posted a record of 11,458 the previous day. The new infections pushed the state’s total caseload past 200,000, a mark passed by two other states, New York and California.

“It’s clear that the growth is exponential at this point,” Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, a Republican, said on ABC’s This Week. More than 47,000 of Florida’s cases are in Miami-Dade County.

Meanwhile the US Food and Drug Administration commissioner Stephen Hahn was pressed to assess President Donald Trump’s comments on Saturday that a vaccine would be ready “long before the end of the year” and that 99 per cent of the cases have been “totally harmless”.

Hahn refused to be pinned down about whether there would be a vaccine by the end of the year, as the president has said there will be.

“I can’t predict when a vaccine will be available,” he said, adding that the FDA was moving with “unprecedented speed for the development of a vaccine”.

But he noted that his department issued guidelines last week about vaccine development because “our solemn promise to the American people is that we will make a decision based upon the data and science on a vaccine with respect to the safety and effectiveness of that vaccine”.

Hahn said it was “too early to tell” whether the Republican National Convention could be held safely in Jacksonville, Florida, next month.

“We’ll have to see how this unfolds in Florida and elsewhere around the country,” Hahn said.

Trump’s campaign on Sunday said the President would hold an outdoor rally next Saturday night at Portsmouth International Airport in New Hampshire. “There will be ample access to hand sanitiser and all attendees will be provided a face mask that they are strongly encouraged to wear,” the campaign said in announcing the event.

People line up at a COVID-19 testing site in Miami Beach, Florida, this week.

People line up at a COVID-19 testing site in Miami Beach, Florida, this week.Credit:AP

Frustration about the pandemic response has mounted among local leaders, who say they have had to grapple with conflicting orders and frequently changing guidelines from governors and the White House as they try to curb sharply rising infections.

After Texas reported another single-day record for new coronavirus cases over the weekend, Austin Mayor Steve Adler told CNN’s State of the Union that there won’t be enough medical personnel to keep up with the spike in cases if the rate of increase continues unabated in his city.

“If we don’t change this trajectory, then I am within two weeks of having our hospitals overrun,” said Adler, a Democrat, adding that intensive care units in the city could be overflowing within 10 days.

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Judge Lina Hidalgo, the top elected official in Harris County, which encompasses the Houston metro area, echoed Alder’s concerns in an interview with ABC News’s This Week, saying hospitals in Harris County were nearing capacity.

She said she had been stripped of authority to issue stay-home orders after Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, decided to move forward with an aggressive reopening plan in the spring. All she could do now was issue “recommendations”.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, a Democrat, attributed soaring case numbers in Arizona to the state’s decision to resume business as usual before the virus was under control. She noted that young people who ignored health precautions had probably led the explosion in cases.

The Washington Post

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