The number of deaths from the coronavirus pandemic in America has reached 109,497, with confirmed cases in this country now totaling 1,909,077, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
New deaths have been curving downward in the US, but Covid-19 continues to spread across the country, with thousands of confirmed diagnoses daily.
The increase comes as officials – grappling with a 13.3% unemployment rate – take more steps to reopen local economies. Meanwhile, social-distancing guidelines have been increasingly challenged by nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd, prompting concerns that cases could soon surge.
The New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, recently expanded reopening efforts following dramatic declines in deaths and diagnoses in his state, which has been the most ravaged in the country.
Cuomo said that New York City, which has been the center of the pandemic in the US, is on track to enter “phase one” of re-opening on 8 June. It permits construction and manufacturing, as well as retail conducted on the curbside or trhough in-store drop-off and pick-up. In some regions of New York state, houses of worship will be permitted to reopen at 25% occupancy with “all social distancing protocols” on 7 June.
Across the US, some tourist hubs are reopening. Universal Orlando reopened theme parks on 5 June after being closed for nearly three months, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Most guests sported masks and followed safety procedures such as temperature checks at the lightly attended parks.
Las Vegas’s famed casinos also re-opened this week
Public health officials have voiced concern that demonstrators and police at anti-police brutality protests could spur Covid-19’s spread. Social distancing is virtually impossible at heavily attended protests and shouting could spread droplets containing COVID-19. The sheer number of attendees renders contact tracing virtually impossible.
Heavily criticized police techniques, such as using teargas and pepper spray on protesters, intensify this risk The substances cause coughing and oil-based pepper spray prompts mucus, saliva, and tears to leave the nose, mouth, and eyes.
Dr Anthony Fauci, who is spearheading the US response to Covid-19, has repeatedly voiced concern about these protests.
“Every time I hear about or see the congregation of large crowds at a time and geographic area where there is active infection transmission, it is a perfect set-up for the spread of the virus in the sense of creating these blips that might turn into some surges,” Fauci said in a recent interview on a Washington DC radio station. “So I get very concerned.”