US notes 62,000 COVID cases in another record-breaking day

Yesterday US officials reported 62,751 new cases of COVID-19, setting yet another record in a summertime surge that has swept across much of the South and West.

Though Florida, Arizona, and Texas still lead in the number of new cases, Oklahoma and Louisiana are reporting spikes. And according to the Washington Post five states—Alabama, Iowa, Missouri, Montana and Wisconsin—hit daily records today.

In total, the country has 3,088,913 cases of the novel coronavirus, including 132,934 deaths, by far the most infections and fatalities of any country.

Caution urged

Today on a podcast produced by the Wall Street Journal, Anthony Fauci, MD, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he thinks states seeing a spike in cases should consider shutting down local economies.

"Be mindful of what happens when you open up and throw caution to the wind," Fauci said.

In Tulsa, health officials said the increase in cases is likely at least partially tied to a Jun 20 campaign rally for President Trump and accompanying protests. The rally was held indoors with no enforced social distancing or mask use.

"In the past few days, we've seen almost 500 new cases, and we had several large events just over two weeks ago, so I guess we just connect the dots," Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Bruce Dart, MD, said yesterday.

Houston sees increase in at-home deaths

Houston has seen an increase in the number of people dying at home, ProPublica reports, which could be an indicator that these deaths are caused by untested COVD-19 infections.

The uptick in the number of people dying before they can even reach a hospital in Houston parallels what happened in New York City in March and April.

Data collected by ProPublica from the Houston Fire Department show a 45% jump since February in the number of cardiac arrest calls that ended with paramedics declaring people dead upon arrival. In June, dead-on-arrival calls grew to nearly 300, more than 75 in excess of either of the previous two Junes.

Yesterday Texas reported 9,979 new cases of COVID-19, and said a record number of people were hospitalized: 9,610. Harris County, which includes most of Houston, has 39,311 cases and 407 deaths.

CDC to revisit school guidance

The Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) will revise its guidance on reopening of schools, according to Vice President Mike Pence. Pence made the comments yesterday during a news conferences at the US Department of Education.

"The president said today we just don't want the guidance to be too tough," Pence said. "That's the reason why, next week, CDC is going to be issuing a new set of tools, five different documents that will be giving even more clarity on the guidance going forward."

Public health officials, however, are concerned that the president's tweeted threats to withhold federal aid to schools that do not reopen are behind the CDC's new effort to update guidelines.

"The CDC has been saying that schools must open cautiously and follow science-based guidelines such as physical distancing, physical barriers and cleaning to help thwart COVID-19," American Public Health Association (APHA) Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, MD, said in an APHA news release. "The Trump administration has no justification for overruling science-backed information that the CDC has initiated in school opening plans."

Today on "Good Morning America," CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, clarified the agency's position on reopening guidelines.

"Our guidelines are our guidelines, but we are going to provide additional reference documents to aid basically communities that are trying to open K-through-12s," Redfield said. "It's not a revision of the guidelines; it's just to provide additional information to help schools be able to use the guidance we put forward."

Vaccine recipients, airline layoffs

In other US pandemic news:

  • Black and Hispanic Americans, who are more likely to contract and die from COVID-19, may be among the first Americans to receive a vaccine against the virus when one is available, according to documents seen by the New York Times.

  • United Airlines warned yesterday it could lay off 40% of its workforce on Oct 1. The airline is sending mandatory 60-day notices under federal labor rules to 36,000 of its employees, the Wall Street Journal United said those warned of potential furloughs include 15,000 flight attendants, 2,250 pilots and 11,000 customer service staff.

  • The American Public Health Labs, along with 300 other medical groups signed a letter sent to US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Jul 1. The letter voiced concerns about resistance to evidence-based public health messages and threats to public health leaders across the country during the pandemic.

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