The Journal Gazette
 
 
Wednesday, July 29, 2020 1:00 am

Fear grows about rising virus cases in Midwest

Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. – States like Mississippi and South Carolina cast about for more hospital beds, and governors in some of the hardest-hit places staunchly resisted calls to require masks, despite confirmed cases of the coronavirus soaring.

States like Florida, Arizona and Texas are in dire condition, and the virus also has been spreading farther north in recent days, causing alarm among public health officials who fear states are not doing enough to avoid catastrophic outbreaks like those in the Sun Belt.

“We are watching very carefully California, Arizona, Texas, and most of Florida,” Trump said at a news conference. “It's starting to head down to the right direction.”

Florida, however, reported another one-day high for COVID-19 deaths, with 191, while Arizona recorded 104, and Arkansas had a daily record of 20.

While the White House has begun to feel cautiously optimistic that the resurgence has begun to stabilize in parts of the Southwest, fears are growing about the potential for a significant uptick in the Midwest, including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and Colorado, according to a Trump administration official who wasn't authorized to publicly discuss private conversations.

It's fueled largely by a rise in cases among young adults, who have been hitting bars, restaurants and health clubs again.

Over the past two weeks, Wisconsin's rolling average number of new confirmed cases has increased by 31%. Minnesota reported its largest one-day case count Sunday, with more than 860 cases.

The virus is blamed for over 4.3 million confirmed infections and about 150,000 deaths in the U.S., according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Republican governors in Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri and South Carolina have all resisted calls to close bars and gyms or issue statewide mask requirements, though local officials have imposed some of their own restrictions.

In Mississippi, nine of the state's biggest hospitals had no open intensive care beds as of Monday, and officials are considering opening pop-up facilities.

More than 24% of coronavirus tests have come back positive in Mississippi over the past week, the highest rate in the nation and triple the national average.

Republican Gov. Tate Reeves has gone so far as to argue that because mask-wearing has become political, a statewide mandate could actually discourage people from covering their faces.

Missouri reported another daily record in cases, with nearly 1,800.

GOP Gov. Mike Parson has repeatedly refused to enact a statewide order requiring masks, citing relatively few cases in most of the state compared with hotspots in bigger cities.


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