US COVID-19 case counts rise in 39 states, decline in only 2

Cashier with mask and face shield

Credit: Pixfly / iStock

Only Delaware and Maine reported declining COVID-19 cases in the past 2 weeks, while 39 states have seen the number of confirmed infections rise. 

With more than 67,000 new cases reported yesterday, the United States has more than 3.5 million cases now, and 138,040 deaths, according to a tracker maintained by Johns Hopkins University.

Both Texas and Florida, home to two of the largest outbreaks in the country, reported a record number of deaths today and yesterday. In Florida, state health officials said there were a record 156 new deaths and more than 13,960 new cases. The state’s total number of cases now stands at 315,775.

In Texas yesterday, officials tracked 10,791 new coronavirus infections and 110 new deaths, both records for the Lone Star state. A total of 3,432 Texans have died from the virus. Harris County, home to Houston, has almost 50,000 cases. The state’s total stands at 282,365.

Texas, Kansas school districts announce online learning

The Houston Independent School District announced yesterday it would begin the 2020-21 school year online on Sep 8. Under the current plan, students will be phased into the classroom, if families choose to do so, on Oct 16. All families will have the choice of continuing virtual learning for the entirety of the school year.

"Given the threat of COVID-19, we will not put the health and safety of our students and staff at risk," Superintendent Grenita Lathan said during a press conference yesterday. 

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly also announced that public schools in that state will start 3 weeks later than planned because of the spike of COVID-19 cases.

"Today I announced that I will issue an executive order to delay opening schools until after the Labor Day holiday," Kelly wrote on Twitter. "The additional three weeks will provide schools time to get masks, thermometers, hand sanitizer and other necessary COVID-19 mitigation supplies." 

Mask debates continue across nation

Arkansas joined Alabama and Montana this week in announcing a statewide mask and face covering mandate. 

"I have listened to the doctors and nurses that are on the front lines of this fight against COVID-19, and they ask the public to do more," Gov. Asa Hutchinson said today during his daily briefing.

Kohl’s, Target, and CVS, also announced today they are going to require that all customers and employees be masked, following Walmart’s decision earlier this week. 

But the Washington Post reports that some governors are still firmly against such widespread policy changes. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp yesterday said he would issue a statewide order striking down local mask ordinances. 

Georgia is one of several states experiencing an uptick in cases and a subsequent delay in receiving test results, echoing the scenes that played out across the country in March. According to the Wall Street Journal, Florida, Nevada, Georgia, and Texas all have reported a lag time in awaiting test results, sometimes for as long as 2 weeks.

The lag, experts say, may make contact tracing and self-quarantine almost impossible for most people.

Other US developments 

  • Vice President Mike Pence said today that the Republican National Convention, slated to be held in Jacksonville, Florida, in August, may move all events outside in an effort to limit COVID-19 risk.

  • A total of 1.3 million Americans filed for unemployment during the week ending Jul 11. Retail sales, however, were up 7.5%.

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