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Coronavirus cases are surging in 17 states that are trying to reopen

Published May 28th, 2020 7:02PM EDT
Coronavirus US
Image: Eric Gay/AP/Shutterstock

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  • The coronavirus’ US toll reached a grim milestone this week, according to the latest numbers from Johns Hopkins University that show the US now having surpassed 100,000 deaths from the virus.
  • This comes as states around the country are reopening, while cases there are also surging.
  • The latest data shows coronavirus cases in 17 states surging after reopening.

Well, you can’t say nobody saw this coming. Pretty much every state in the country right now is still feeling the effects of the coronavirus but is nevertheless on a path to reopening — some states faster than others, and some to a greater degree than others. At the same time, this is happening because we’re already up to about 1 in 4 Americans being unemployed right now – a frighteningly high statistic that’s put the country in Great Depression territory. Which is to say, the reopenings are unfolding because economies can’t take much more of this, not because health trends are pointed in the right direction.

On the contrary, in fact. More than a dozen states saw immediate spikes in coronavirus cases after starting to reopen, and most of the new coronavirus cases in the US — there are now more than 1.7 million COVID-19 cases and more than 102,000 reported deaths — come from 17 states that are trying to reopen. That’s according to CNN, which reported Wednesday that areas already regarded as coronavirus hotspots like California, New York, Illinois, and Texas, each saw the biggest surge and more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases. Moreover, the surges are only expected to get worse from there.

This news is partly why New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an order on Thursday that will allow New York businesses to deny entry to anyone not wearing a face mask — face masks being regarded as one of the few tools we have to help limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Actions that other locales are taking in response to this worrying trend, meanwhile, include:

  • Officials in Houston are planning to start cracking down on capacity limits in bars and restaurants, after reports that some of those businesses aren’t sticking to them. To promote social distancing, the idea is that restaurants, for example, can reopen only as long as they space customers out appropriately — and operate at a reduced capacity indoors. It defeats the purpose, of course, to ignore the limit on customers inside, even though businesses obviously need the patronage.
  • Virginia, meanwhile, is taking a tougher stance on face masks and requiring residents to wear them more often, in addition to a requirement that masks must be worn on public transportation.
  • And in Rhode Island, especially across East Matunuck and Scarborough state beaches, park rangers and police have been stepping up their patrols to make sure people are adhering to social distancing measures.

Coronavirus fatigue, however, is definitely real, with this pandemic having gone on for so long now that some people are taking a fatalistic view of the whole thing. Reports have increased in recent days of large outdoor parties and gatherings where people aren’t wearing masks and aren’t keeping themselves socially distanced. Some businesses are even mask-shaming customers and refusing to serve you if you enter with a mask. That’s what makes fighting this disease and reversing these trends harder than it needs to be.

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.