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With virus cases on the rise, hospitals are counting beds again

Across the US, more than 36,000 new infections were reported by state health departments on Wednesday — surpassing the previous single-day record of 34,203 set on April 25. Texas, Florida, and California led the way, with all three states reporting more than 5,000 new cases apiece.

Even as case numbers climb, reports circulated that the federal government is poised to stop providing federal aid to testing sites in some hard-hit states, including Texas, prompting a top federal official to respond that testing was on the rise.

Since the start of the pandemic, the US has recorded more than 2.3 million coronavirus cases and at least 119,000 deaths, while the global number of cases has soared past 9 million.

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Meanwhile, hospital administrators and health experts warned desperately Wednesday that parts of the US are on the verge of becoming overwhelmed by a resurgence of the coronavirus, lamenting that politicians and a tired-of-being-cooped-up public are letting a disaster unfold.

While newly confirmed infections have been declining steadily in early hot spots such as New York and New Jersey, several other states set single-day records this week, including Arizona, California, Mississippi, Nevada, Texas, and Oklahoma. Some of them also broke hospitalization records, as did North Carolina and South Carolina.

“People got complacent,” said Dr. Marc Boom, CEO of the Houston Methodist hospital system. “And it’s coming back and biting us, quite frankly.”

In Texas, which began lifting its shutdowns early on, on May 1, hospitalizations have doubled and new cases have tripled in two weeks. Governor Greg Abbott said his state is facing a “massive outbreak” and might need new local restrictions to preserve hospital space in some places.

At Houston Methodist’s eight Texas hospitals, the COVID-19 patient count has tripled in the last month, to 312. About 20 percent of the coronavirus tests the hospitals conduct now come back positive, compared with roughly 2 percent to 4 percent in mid-May.

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If the trends don’t change, the 2,000-bed hospital chain could have 600 coronavirus patients in the next three weeks and could be forced to cancel nonessential surgeries, Boom said.

“We need everybody to behave perfectly and work together perfectly” to slow the infection rate, Boom said. “When I look at a restaurant or a business where people . . . are not following the guidelines, where people are just throwing caution to the wind, it makes me angry.”

In Arizona, cases will probably exceed statewide hospital bed capacity within the next several weeks if the trend continues, said Dr. Joseph Gerald, a University of Arizona public health policy professor.

“We are in deep trouble,’’ said Gerald, urging the state to impose new restrictions on businesses, which Governor Doug Ducey has refused to do. Without such steps, Gerald said, the death toll will reach “unheard-of” levels.

The Texas governor initially barred local officials from fining or penalizing anyone for not wearing a mask as the state reopened. After cases began spiking, Abbott said last week that cities and counties could allow businesses to require masks. Both Abbott and Ducey are Republicans.

Washington Post /AP

N.Y., 2 other states hit early restrict some new arrivals

NEW YORK — Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that New York and two neighboring states would begin requiring certain out-of-state visitors entering their states to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.

The restrictions, which also cover New Jersey and Connecticut, will be based on specific health metrics related to the coronavirus, Cuomo said. At the moment, travelers from nine states — including Florida, Texas, and Arizona — would be required to quarantine.

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The order takes effect at midnight, Cuomo said Wednesday, a quick implementation aimed at preventing a rush of travelers hoping to avoid the requirement.

Nearly 20,000 people tested positive for the virus in Florida over the past five days ending Tuesday; in New York, where far more people are being tested daily, roughly 3,200 did during that period.

Only a handful of states — including Maine, Rhode Island, and Hawaii — have required out-of-state travelers to quarantine. A larger number have asked travelers to quarantine but do not mandate doing so. And a few, such as Florida and Kansas, apply the requirement only to those coming from certain states.

The new quarantine requirement in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut would apply to any person arriving from a state with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents, or a state with a 10 percent or higher rate over a seven-day rolling average.

Currently, Cuomo said, those metrics would apply to Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Utah, Texas, and Washington.

New York Times

White woman accused of coughing on Hispanic child

The late afternoon excursion to Yogurtland was supposed to be a fun family outing for Mireya Mora and her 1-year-old son.

But instead of enjoying a sweet treat together, the mother and son left the frozen yogurt store in San Jose, Calif., earlier this month ‘‘traumatized’’ following what Mora alleges was a racially charged spat over social distancing that ended with an unidentified white woman deliberately coughing on the young boy multiple times.

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‘‘She coughed on him super hard. It wasn’t an accident,’’ Mora, who is Hispanic, told The Washington Post. ‘‘A person with a heart that cares would not do that to a baby.’’

Authorities in San Jose say they are now searching for the woman, described as white and in her 60s, and have classified the June 12 incident as an assault, according to a Monday statement from the police department asking for the public’s assistance.

Citing findings from a preliminary investigation, police said the heated exchange was triggered after the woman became upset with Mora, who was behind her in line at Yogurtland, for not properly social distancing.

In surveillance footage released by the police, Mora, who is pushing a stroller, can be seen walking through the business with her grandmother in tow, and stopping when she reaches a bright pink line drawn on the floor. Mora told The Post that she and her family adhered to coronavirus guidelines the entire time they were inside. She noted that when the woman initially complained about her to a Yogurtland worker, the employee also confirmed that Mora was following the rules.

Washington Post