The governor of Texas has warned that he could reimpose a lockdown on the state if coronavirus prevention measures were not heeded, as states across the U.S. battled to get the pandemic under control.
Friday brought 63,900 new cases nationwide – a new record, according to data from Johns Hopkins University analyzed by CNN.
Bioethicist Dr Zeke Emanuel said up to 250,000 Americans could die directly from the coronavirus by the end of the year.
Emanuel, who is the vice provost for Global Initiatives and chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, said the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic was ‘incompetent and pretty disastrous.’
The United States saw 63,900 new cases of COVID-19 nationwide Friday – a new record
‘Before the year is out, we’ll probably have, I would think, between 220,000 and 250,000 Americans who died directly from COVID, not to mention those people who are dying indirectly,’ he told CBS’s podcast The Takeout.
‘You’ll have a huge increase in mortality because of COVID, and that is, it seems to me, to be a failure,’ said Emanuel, a member of Joe Biden’s campaign task force to address the coronavirus.
More than 3 million have died from COVID in the United States, the hardest-hit country
More than 800 people nationwide have died in each of the three days leading up to Friday — a three-day total that is 56 per cent higher than during the same three days last week.
Dr Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, said on Friday that she expected to soon see an increase in deaths among Americans infected with the virus.
‘In the United States we have an increase in the number of cases over the last particularly three weeks,’ she said during a virtual COVID-19 conference.
‘We have not seen this result in increased mortality but that is expected as the disease continues to spread in some of our large metro areas.’
Healthcare workers in Texas, where the governor has threatened to reimpose lockdown
Her statement places her at odds with President Donald Trump, who has touted a falling death rate as a sign of success in his approach to the virus.
In his July 4 speech, Trump said the U.S. had tested 40 million people and that 99 per cent of cases were ‘totally harmless.’
A few days later, on July 9 at a White House event, Trump said the country had ‘dramatically reduced mortality rates’ with respect to COVID and one of the lowest mortality rates ‘anywhere in the world.’
The New York Times on Friday tallied the per cent change in average daily cases since states reopened, and found that, with a seven-day rolling average, infections in Florida were up by 1,393 per cent.
South Carolina was up by 999 per cent; Arizona by 858 per cent; and Texas by 680 per cent.
New York was down by 52 per cent.
California and Texas reported a daily high in deaths earlier this week. Florida and Tennessee did so on Thursday.
Cases of COVID-19 are surging across the south and west of the United States
Cars wait in line at a drive-through COVID-19 testing site in Miami Gardens, Florida
People are tested for COVID-19 at a drive through testing site in Orlando, Florida
In Phoenix, hospital officials are running out of morgue beds, Mayor Kate Gallego told MSNBC Friday.
Maricopa County, where Phoenix is located, is expected to soon receive refrigerated ‘morgue trucks’ similar to those used in New York City
‘Several months ago, I warned of a potential tsunami if we did not take this more seriously,’ said Richard Cortez, an official in Hidalgo County, southern Texas.
‘The tsunami is here.’
On Friday afternoon Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, said the worst was yet to come for his state.
Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, on Friday warned of a possible second lockdown
As of Thursday afternoon, 2,918 Texas had died of COVID-19. The state also reported nearly another 10,000 new cases of the disease.
‘Things will get worse, and let me explain why,’ he told KLBK TV in Lubbock.
‘The deaths that we’re seeing announced today and yesterday — which are now over 100 — those are people who likely contracted COVID-19 in late May.
‘The worst is yet to come as we work our way through that massive increase in people testing positive.’
Texans will also likely see an increase in cases next week, Abbott said.
He said people respecting his face mask requirement might be the only thing standing between businesses remaining open and another shutdown.
‘The public needs to understand this was a very tough decision for me to make,’ he said of his face mask mandate.
Under his ruling – an abrupt U-turn for him – Texans in counties with more than 20 cases must wear masks in public. Nearly 80 Texas counties have opted out of the order order, while others are refusing to enforce it.
‘I made clear that I made this tough decision for one reason: It was our last best effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
‘If we do not slow the spread of COVID-19, the next step would have to be a lockdown.’
The number of infections is continuing to rocket up in the United States
Healthcare workers walk through the Texas Medical Center during a shift change as cases soar
Nearly 9,700 people were in Texas hospitals on Thursday – the highest number since the pandemic began.
On Friday afternoon Abbott extended his disaster declaration for all Texas counties.
The previous day he had expanded his ban on elective medical procedures to cover more than 100 counties across much of the state.
In Houston, hospitals were forced to treat hundreds of COVID-19 patients in their emergency rooms — sometimes for several hours or multiple days — as they scrambled to open additional intensive care beds, according to internal numbers shared with NBC News and ProPublica.
At the same time, the region’s 12 busiest hospitals are increasingly telling emergency responders that they cannot safely accept new patients, at a rate nearly three times that of a year ago, according to data reviewed by reporters.
Since Texas officials have not issued another stay-at-home order to slow the virus’s spread, hospitals are also still seeing a steady flow of patients as a result of routine car accidents, violent crime and heat-related medical emergencies.
Earlier coronavirus outbreaks inundated emergency rooms in New York City and Detroit, but lockdown orders in those cities led to fewer car accidents and a reduction in violent crime, freeing more space in ERs for COVID patients.
Multiple hospitals in the city are running out of immediately available nonsurgical ICU beds, including both of the city’s top-tier trauma centers, Ben Taub Hospital and Memorial Hermann’s flagship hospital in the Texas Medical Center.
The shortage was apparent in the daily status report prepared Wednesday by the SouthEast Texas Regional Advisory Council, which coordinates the Houston region’s emergency medical response.
COVID-19 testing in Edinburg, Texas, where 2,918 people have lost their lives so far
A medical team fight to save the life of a patient in United Memorial Medical Center in Houston
In Florida, meanwhile, health officials reported 11,433 new cases and 93 deaths, according to data on the Florida Department of Health website.
Friday’s data marked the second time the state’s single-day tally topped 11,000.
The health department reported a record 11,458 cases on July 4.
More than 40 hospitals in Florida are now hitting their limit with regard to ICU capacity, according to a CNBC News report published on Tuesday.
On Friday, however, Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida, denied that there was a lack of ICU beds in the state
‘You’ve got a lot of beds available,’ he said at a news conference in Orlando, adding that no major hospital system in the state ‘has even gone to like a surge level.’
Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida, pictured at a news conference in Orlando on Friday
As of Friday, there are 3.16 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States
California reported 149 coronavirus-related deaths on Thursday, the highest daily total for the state, and total cases topped 300,000 on Friday.
California’s positivity rate as a 14-day average is climbing and stands at 7.4 per cent, with people between the ages of 18-49 accounting for almost 60 per cent of all cases.
Also setting daily records for new COVID-19 cases were Utah with 850, Louisiana with 2,642 and Georgia with 4,484, health officials said.