“COVID-19 cases spike in 37 states in America”

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Washington - More than three dozen states in America were seeing a rise in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, according to a Reuters analysis on Thursday, the latest grim sign that the coronavirus pandemic, once thought to be waning, was again spreading rapidly.

Florida, among the states hardest hit by the June surge, reported more than 10 000 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, its largest spike so far. California, another epicenter of the new outbreak, saw positive tests climb 37 per cent with hospitalizations up 56 per cent over the past two weeks.

New infections were rising in 37 out of 50 US states in the past 14 days compared with the two weeks prior in early June, according to a Reuters analysis.

The United States has now reported more than 128 000 coronavirus-related deaths, nearly a quarter of the known global total.

The wave of new cases has many governors halting or back-pedaling on plans to reopen their states after months of strict lockdowns, closing beaches and canceling fireworks displays over the upcoming US Independence Day weekend.

“We are not out of this crisis. We are still in the first wave of this crisis. It requires some level of personal responsibility,” California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said at a daily briefing on the pandemic.

In Texas, another state with an alarming acceleration in cases, Governor Greg Abbott on Thursday issued a statewide order that face masks must be worn in public in counties with more than 20 coronavirus cases.

Earlier on Thursday, Kansas joined several other states requiring face coverings after 46.1 per cent spike in infections there last week.

The sweeping business shut-downs earlier in the pandemic devastated the US economy and threw millions of Americans out of work, leaving governors reluctant to take such draconian steps again, even if the lifting of restrictions may have touched off the new outbreak.

A US Labour Department report out Thursday showed the re-openings had a dramatic impact on hiring, with the United States creating jobs at a record pace in June. Employment remains 14.7 million jobs below pre-pandemic levels.

“Today’s announcement proves that our economy is roaring back,” US President Trump told reporters at the White House, while calling his administration’s efforts to beat back the virus as “a historic thing.”

Biden slams Trump

But the latest batch of high-frequency data assembled by Federal Reserve officials, economists and private sector companies suggests economic activity stalled in recent days as officials ordered new clamp-downs.

“More than ever, we’re concerned about the worsening health situation and its impact on the burgeoning recovery. Rebounding mobility and poor use of protective equipment will make for a dangerous summer cocktail,” Oxford Economics analyst Gregory Daco wrote.

A strong economy is a key plank in Trump’s re-election campaign. Joe Biden, his expected Democratic opponent, slammed Trump’s comments on Thursday. (Reuters)