Fauci says some US states should consider shutting down again

US hits record 60,000 coronavirus cases daily as death rate in worst-affected states begins to rise

Waitresses serve customers at the Le Petit Four restaurant in West Hollywood, California. The state  recorded 149 deaths on Wednesday – well ahead of recent daily averages – with the greater Los Angeles area most affected.  Photograph: Christian Monterrosa/EPA

Waitresses serve customers at the Le Petit Four restaurant in West Hollywood, California. The state recorded 149 deaths on Wednesday – well ahead of recent daily averages – with the greater Los Angeles area most affected. Photograph: Christian Monterrosa/EPA

 

The United States has reached a new daily record in coronavirus cases, with 60,000 new cases confirmed on Wednesday.

The fresh spike came as White House coronavirus task force immunologist Dr Anthony Fauci advised that some states should consider pausing their reopenings, and in some cases, shutting down again completely.

“I think any state that is having a serious problem, that state should seriously look at shutting down,” he said, adding “it’s not for me to say, because each state is different”.

His message is at odds with US president Donald Trump, who has urged a quick reopening of the US economy.

States in the south and west of the country are continuing to see an increase in infection rates, and the US has now reported more than three million cases.

In a worrying sign, death rates in some of the worst-affected states are on the rise, undermining claims by the White House that the current spike in cases was resulting in fewer deaths than in the early weeks of the pandemic.

Similar patterns were evident in California and Texas. California recorded 149 deaths on Wednesday – well ahead of recent daily averages – with the greater Los Angeles area most affected.

Texas reported a daily death toll of 98, and there were signs of pressure on hospital capacity there.

Florida on Thursday reported 120 deaths, compared with 48 the previous day, bringing the state’s total death rate to more than 4,000. But, speaking in Jacksonville, governor Ron deSantis showed no inclination to announce further restrictions.

“We need our society to function and to continue to move forward,” he said, during a visit to Jacksonville Port Authority on Thursday.

Mr Trump is scheduled to travel to Miami on Friday for a meeting on border security and the drugs trade, despite Miami-Dade county being one of the worst-affected areas of the state.

There were also reports that organisers of next month’s Republican National Convention, which was already moved from Charlotte to Jacksonville, were now considering an outdoor venue for the event. The Democratic National Committee has already scrapped plans for a large convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with most events moving online.

Majority leader

But a spike in cases in northern Florida has also raised fears about the viability of holding a large-scale convention in Jacksonville, with several Republican senators saying they do not plan to attend. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said on Thursday that “we’ll have to wait and see how things look” in late August whether a large convention can take place. “We have a challenging situation,” he said.

Mr Trump continued to insist on Thursday that an increase in testing was the reason for the rise in coronavirus cases.

“For the 1/100th time, the reason we show so many Cases, compared to other countries that haven’t done nearly as well as we have, is that our TESTING is much bigger and better,” he tweeted. “We have tested 40,000,000 people. If we did 20,000,000 instead, Cases would be half, etc.”

Separately, secretary of state Mike Pompeo told reporters the US was having conversations with its European counterparts about reopening travel for certain travellers and were working “to make sure we get that right”.

In March, the US imposed a travel ban, with some exceptions, for travellers into the United States who had been in Schengen or Ireland and Britain in the previous 14 days.