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Here’s why coronavirus cases are surging across half the country right now

Published Jun 14th, 2020 9:02AM EDT
Coronavirus second wave
Image: Allen J Schaben/Los Angeles Times/Shutterstock

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  • Is a coronavirus second wave underway around the country right now? It seems so, according to surging numbers of new cases in some states.
  • That’s according to a new Associated Press analysis, which found a scary rise in cases in about half of all US states driven by a number of different factors.
  • Those factors include an expansion of testing, as well as a lifting of lockdown measures.

If you’re like me and eager to see as much upbeat news as possible related to the coronavirus after living with this thing for a few months now, seeing headlines like this — heralding the arrival of a second wave of the virus — is definitely the kind of thing that makes you nervous. “Houston on ‘Precipice of Disaster’ With Virus Cases Spreading,” Bloomberg declared in recent days, ahead of the possibility that the city might actually have to reimpose lockdown measures because the crisis there is reaching a dangerous level again.

And we’re seeing this not just there. The governor of North Carolina is on record as saying an uptick in cases is making him rethink the state’s current reopening trajectory. Hospitals in Arizona are bracing for a new wave of cases. In fact, doctors think this crisis is going to linger long enough that we’ll need to keep wearing coronavirus masks for another year. Now, meanwhile, comes a new analysis from the Associated Press showing that, like it or not, the coronavirus is not done with the US — and, in fact, that cases are rising across half the country as states and cities reopen.

What makes it complicated to get a handle on what exactly is happening and why is the fact that the virus is continuing to spread out, and the pandemic is continuing to get worse for a number of different reasons. Increased testing, which reveals new cases, plays a part, as does the lifting of lockdown restrictions.

“It is a disaster that spreads,” Dr. Jay Butler, who handles the coronavirus response at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the AP. “It’s not like there’s an entire continental seismic shift and everyone feels the shaking all at once.”

Here’s a look at some of the places where the virus is spreading the most, and the fastest, right now:

Let’s start with Texas. According to the AP analysis, “few states are rebooting faster than Texas,” which saw hospitalizations surpass 2,100 for the first time a few days ago. That’s up 42% since Memorial Day, and the state also has one of the highest percentages of tests resulting in positive cases anywhere in the country. At the same, Texas’ reopening is continuing as planned, with the state on Friday allowing restaurant dining rooms to serve diners at full capacity again.

In Alabama, meanwhile, the case uptick is being driven by outbreaks in poultry plants and nursing homes. Hospital ICUs in the city of Montgomery say they’re seeing a busy flu season-level of activity right now, and state health officer Scott Harris told the AP: “I think reopening the economy gave a lot of people the wrong impression … that, ‘Hey everything is fine. Let’s go back to normal.’ Clearly, it is not that way. Really, now more than ever we need people to stay six feet apart, wear face coverings and wash their hands.”

North Carolina is another state that’s seeing a worrisome increase. There, according to the AP, the state saw its biggest single-day increase in cases (1,370) this past Saturday. And as testing has increased there, so has the rate of tests showing positive results.

“These trends moving in the wrong direction is a signal we need to take very seriously,” said Mandy Cohen, the Secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.

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