President Donald Trump held a White House press briefing today in which he said the 4.8 million jobs added in June prove that the economy is "roaring back" from the impact of COVID-19 and that more signs of the recovery will be apparent before the general election on Nov 3. "This is the largest monthly jobs gain in the history of our country," he said.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today reported a record of 54,357 new coronavirus cases over yesterday—a record single-day jump that presses the United States further than what some thought was the peak this spring. For reference, as CNN reported, it took the United States a little more than 2 months to report its first 50,000 cases. Total US cases were at 2,679,230, including 128,024 deaths, according to the CDC.
The infection curve is rising in 40 of 50 states, and 36 states are seeing an increase in the percentage of positive coronavirus tests, AP reported today. Some public health officials and governors are blaming bars for the increase in cases, the New York Times reported today, while others are pointing to hasty business reopenings, according to Politico.
Without directly acknowledging the recent surge of new cases, Trump said that, along with governors, the White House was working at "putting out the flames or the fires, and that's working out well."
'Keep opening up America'
Trump said that states will decide how quickly to reopen their economies but that "we'd like to see churches open quickly." He did not take questions, but Treasure Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the administration does not rue the decision to urge states to reopen quickly.
"Absolutely not," he said. "I think we've had a very careful plan, again, working with the states. This is primarily the states' responsibility."
However, economists caution that the situation isn't nearly as rosy as it might seem, with at least 10 million more jobless Americans than before the pandemic, and millions are still applying for unemployment benefits weekly, CNBC reported.
At the same time, Vice President Mike Pence said that the White House would "keep opening up America" despite the surge in COVID-19 cases, according to CNBC.
Mnuchin said that the White House plans to negotiate with Congress to secure additional assistance for businesses coping with pandemic fallout and that it is working with schools and colleges in preparing for students' safe return in the fall. "I think most schools will be able to open safely," he said, adding that the next stimulus package for schools will support those that need additional equipment and other resources to allow physical distancing.
Downward trends in only 2 states
Today, Florida set a state record for daily new coronavirus cases when it passed the 10,000 mark, Reuters reported. Florida infections increased 168% in June when it recorded more than 95,000 news cases. Since the end of May, positive test results have risen to 15%, a 9% increase.
Only one other state, New York, has recorded more than 10,000 cases in a single day, at 12,847 on Apr 10, 3 weeks after the state issued stay-at-home orders. In fact, no European country reported more new daily cases than Florida at the peak of their outbreaks.
Arizona reported 4,878 cases, including 88 deaths, for a total of 87,425 cases and 1,757 deaths, with Governor Doug Ducey calling for an additional 500 healthcare workers yesterday, Yahoo News reported.
In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott today issued an executive order that requires face coverings in counties with 20 or more positive cases and limiting gatherings to 10 or fewer people. Also, the Texas Tribune reported that more than 300 kids in childcare centers and 460 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19; more than 8,100 new cases were recorded on Wednesday.
In California, where some businesses are again being shut down amid rising cases, new cases were at 7,600, according to the New York Times.
North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas all set single-day records on Wednesday, and the formerly stable-appearing states of Ohio, Kansas, and Louisiana reported some of their highest single-day tallies in weeks. Only Nebraska and South Dakota were reporting a downward trend in cases, according to the AP.
'Disturbing' week, new concern looming
In a JAMA Q&A today on YouTube, Anthony Fauci, MD, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, called this week "disturbing" and said "I think it's pretty obvious that we're not going in the right direction."
And although states with substantial surges make up about 50% of new cases in the United States "what we need to emphasize to people is that even in those areas that are not showing a substantial surge, once you get surges like that in some areas of the country, other areas become vulnerable, because even though we are a very heterogeneous country, we are not without connection to each other, so the whole enterprise could be at risk," he said.
Fauci also noted that the surge could at least partly be attributed to lax lockdown measures in the United States, compared with more strict policies in European countries that have managed to contain their outbreaks.
Now The Hill reports that public health officials have a fresh worry on the horizon: the Fourth of July holiday weekend, when crowds traditionally gather to celebrate the country's freedoms.