Speed Reads

the coronavirus crisis

New projections see 200,000 U.S. COVID-19 deaths by October, as cases rise sharply in South, West

Cases of COVID-19 are on the rise in 27 states, and 10 of them — Texas, Florida, California, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Nevada — hit new high marks for hospitalizations on Sunday, The Washington Post reports. Texas hit its fourth consecutive day of record hospitalization numbers on Monday, 2,326 patients, the Texas Department of State Health Services said. Every state has allowed stores, restaurants, and other public place to open to at least some extent, and coronavirus cases have risen in response, especially in the South and West.

The University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation on Monday raised its influential coronavirus projections to 201,129 COVID-19 deaths by Oct. 1, a jump of 21,239 fatalities from its June 10 projections. Florida is projected to lose 18,675 people to the virus by October, up from 6,559 deaths a few days ago. Arizona and California also saw unhealthy rises in predicted mortality. Governors in some new hot spots, like Florida and Texas, attribute the rise in cases to more testing, as Vice President Mike Pence advises, but public health experts say the main cause of the rising infection and hospitalization numbers is that the virus is spreading.

Some governors and public health officials pleaded with residents to wear masks and maintain social distancing, especially the younger people crowding into newly reopened bars. "I understand how people must be very tired of this at this point," said National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins. "But the virus doesn't care that we're tired. The virus is still out there."

Hard-hit cities like Miami, Houston, Austin, and Nashville are considering pausing or ratcheting back reopening measures, but in Texas at least, cities can only advise businesses to scale back capacity or require masks thanks to an executive order from Gov. Greg Abbott (R). Austin, for example, said reopened businesses "are strongly encouraged" to operate at 25 percent capacity indoors now, not the 75 percent allowed for restaurants and 50 percent for other businesses statewide.

Most states with rising cases say they have ample hospital and ICU capacity to handle the new cases — Arizona is a running low — and the reported deaths are falling faster nationally than new cases, which are flat. The U.S. had reported 2.1 million coronavirus cases and 116,127 deaths, out of 8 million cases worldwide and 436,901 reported deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.