What you need to know about COVID-19: 2nd US virus surge hits plateau, but few experts celebrate

While deaths from the coronavirus in the U.S. are mounting rapidly, public health experts are seeing a flicker of good news: The second surge of confirmed cases appears to be leveling off.Scientists aren’t celebrating by any means, warning that the trend is driven by four big, hard-hit places — Arizona, California, Florida and Texas — and that cases are rising in close to 30 states in all, with the outbreak’s center of gravity seemingly shifting from the Sun Belt toward the Midwest.Some experts wonder whether the apparent caseload improvements will endure. It’s also not clear when deaths will start coming down. COVID-19 deaths do not move in perfect lockstep with the infection curve, for the simple reason that it can take weeks to get sick and die from the virus.The future? “I think it’s very difficult to predict,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s foremost infectious-disease expert.”What inevitably is going to happen is that the states that are not yet in trouble, will likely get into trouble,” Fauci said Wednesday in an interview on MSNBC.States including Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee are seeing an increase in the percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive, he said, a development that preceded the spike in the South and West.The White House coronavirus task force has warned Midwestern governors that the time to get ahead of the curve is now before the numbers start to skyrocket in their states, Fauci said.”Before you know it, two to three weeks down the pike, you’re in trouble,” he said.Already, West Virginia is watching coronavirus migrate from the South daily, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said. The state has lost five more people to the virus since Monday, bringing the total to more than 1,100 people.”It’s just not good. That’s just all there is to it,” Justice said. The latest numbersMore than 4.4 million cases of the virus and 151,000 deaths have been reported in the US, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.Where western and southern states stand nowStates across the West and South have set records for daily cases and deaths this month as the virus has surged.California set a grim record of 197 deaths in a single day, the California Department of Public Health reported Wednesday. The last record for the state was set just the week before at 159.Los Angeles County also saw its highest COVID-19 death toll to date with 91 deaths, bringing the total in the county to 4,516. But the county’s Health Director Barbara Ferrer warned that some of Wednesday’s fatalities are also attributed to a reporting backlog. Also setting a record for coronavirus deaths in one day, Florida reported 216 deaths Wednesday. The state has been at the forefront of the resurgence in coronavirus cases.Texas cases surpass New York Coronavirus cases in Texas have risen to more than 418,00, putting the state at a higher case count than New York.Once the U.S. epicenter of the pandemic, New York now ranks fourth in total case count behind California, Florida and Texas, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.Medical teams on the frontlines in Texas said that spikes in the state have taken a toll.”It’s very hard. We’re seeing entire families in our communities ravaged by the virus,” said Dr. Martin Schwartz, who treats patients in intensive care units. “A lot of deaths inside one single family. It’s terrible.”The main hotspot in the state has been the Rio Grande Valley, where hospitals began reaching capacity earlier this month.Health officials say the pandemic is wreaking havoc on communities in Hidalgo County.”It’s a tsunami what we’re seeing right now,” said Dr. Federico Vallejo, a critical care pulmonologist. He told CNN last week that he is treating up to 70 patients a day compared to the usual 15 to 20 a critical care doctor sees during a rotation.Texas was one of the first states to reopen in May, but Gov. Greg Abbott announced a pause to any further reopening in June when cases surged. Now Texas is one of the 41 states to implement mask requirements in some form to protect against the virus’s spread.Though many health experts stress the importance of wearing masks to protect against the spread of the virus, their use has been under debate in the public.Texas Republican Louie Gohmert, who has frequently refused to wear a mask, has tested positive for the virus. Gohmert told KETK on Wednesday he may have contracted coronavirus by incorrectly wearing his mask.”I can’t help but think that if I hadn’t been wearing a mask so much in the last 10 days or so, I really wonder if I would have gotten it,” Gohmert added. “You know, moving the mask around, getting it just right, we’re bound to put some virus on the mask that I sucked in. That’s most likely what happened.”While wearing a mask incorrectly can expose a person to the virus, experts say it primarily spreads person to person. Florida sheriff issues more than 200 citations for gatherings Florida’s Broward County sheriff says he’s got no plans to end an operation cracking down on large gatherings, which has already resulted in more than 200 citations.The operation’s goals were two-fold, Sheriff Gregory Tony said in a virtual news conference Wednesday: to reduce the large gatherings that were taking place and to crack down on “roving car clubs” that were bringing dozens of young people together throughout certain parts of the community.There have been more than 1,100 calls of service about parties and social gatherings, the sheriff said.In the two weeks since the operation was launched, Tony says police have responded to at least 13 different gatherings or parties and issued more than 260 different citations.”Anytime we’re having large gatherings of 100, 150 plus people, it’s crystal clear that we’re not seeing a compliance with the CDC recommendations and therefore more people will contract this virus,” the sheriff said.”We have no interest at this point in time to discontinue having this type of enforcement operation,” he said.Broward County borders Miami-Dade County, which has been called by some experts the country’s new coronavirus epicenter, with overwhelmed hospitals and maxed out ICUs sounding the alarm over the rise in patients. And in the last week, sick Floridians seeking treatment in Miami-Dade County spilled over to the neighboring county’s hospitals.And across the state, the daily number of coronavirus-related deaths broke a record Wednesday for the second day in a row.During his news conference, the sheriff urged the use of face masks, asking residents in the community to take a “common sense approach.””It’s not about the individual person anymore,” Tony said. “When you don’t wear a mask when you don’t comply, you are potentially exposing someone else. So it’s not simply about what you can do for yourself as well what you can do for other people that you don’t even know.”He said several businesses who weren’t following coronavirus guidelines were shut down for at least a day or fined.”We do need to get better compliance out of our community, they need to take on a greater deal of social responsibility. If not, we will be out there enforcing, citing, and writing notices,” the sheriff said.Stop the spread of COVID-19To help stop the spread of the coronavirus, the CDC recommends wearing a face mask.Masks are required in public places in some states and businesses. Multiple major retailers have announced mask requirement policies as the nation continues to see a large number of cases reported in certain areas.The CDC also recommends you keep 6 feet of distance between yourself and others.Make sure to wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.For more tips on how to stay safe, CLICK HERE.The Associated Press contributed to this report.

While deaths from the coronavirus in the U.S. are mounting rapidly, public health experts are seeing a flicker of good news: The second surge of confirmed cases appears to be leveling off.

Scientists aren’t celebrating by any means, warning that the trend is driven by four big, hard-hit places — Arizona, California, Florida and Texas — and that cases are rising in close to 30 states in all, with the outbreak’s center of gravity seemingly shifting from the Sun Belt toward the Midwest.

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Some experts wonder whether the apparent caseload improvements will endure. It’s also not clear when deaths will start coming down. COVID-19 deaths do not move in perfect lockstep with the infection curve, for the simple reason that it can take weeks to get sick and die from the virus.

The future? “I think it’s very difficult to predict,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s foremost infectious-disease expert.

“What inevitably is going to happen is that the states that are not yet in trouble, will likely get into trouble,” Fauci said Wednesday in an interview on MSNBC.

States including Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee are seeing an increase in the percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive, he said, a development that preceded the spike in the South and West.

The White House coronavirus task force has warned Midwestern governors that the time to get ahead of the curve is now before the numbers start to skyrocket in their states, Fauci said.

“Before you know it, two to three weeks down the pike, you’re in trouble,” he said.

Already, West Virginia is watching coronavirus migrate from the South daily, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said. The state has lost five more people to the virus since Monday, bringing the total to more than 1,100 people.

“It’s just not good. That’s just all there is to it,” Justice said.

The latest numbers

More than 4.4 million cases of the virus and 151,000 deaths have been reported in the US, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Where western and southern states stand now

States across the West and South have set records for daily cases and deaths this month as the virus has surged.

California set a grim record of 197 deaths in a single day, the California Department of Public Health reported Wednesday. The last record for the state was set just the week before at 159.

Los Angeles County also saw its highest COVID-19 death toll to date with 91 deaths, bringing the total in the county to 4,516. But the county’s Health Director Barbara Ferrer warned that some of Wednesday’s fatalities are also attributed to a reporting backlog.

Also setting a record for coronavirus deaths in one day, Florida reported 216 deaths Wednesday. The state has been at the forefront of the resurgence in coronavirus cases.

Texas cases surpass New York

Coronavirus cases in Texas have risen to more than 418,00, putting the state at a higher case count than New York.

Once the U.S. epicenter of the pandemic, New York now ranks fourth in total case count behind California, Florida and Texas, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Medical teams on the frontlines in Texas said that spikes in the state have taken a toll.

“It’s very hard. We’re seeing entire families in our communities ravaged by the virus,” said Dr. Martin Schwartz, who treats patients in intensive care units. “A lot of deaths inside one single family. It’s terrible.”

The main hotspot in the state has been the Rio Grande Valley, where hospitals began reaching capacity earlier this month.

Health officials say the pandemic is wreaking havoc on communities in Hidalgo County.

“It’s a tsunami what we’re seeing right now,” said Dr. Federico Vallejo, a critical care pulmonologist. He told CNN last week that he is treating up to 70 patients a day compared to the usual 15 to 20 a critical care doctor sees during a rotation.

Texas was one of the first states to reopen in May, but Gov. Greg Abbott announced a pause to any further reopening in June when cases surged. Now Texas is one of the 41 states to implement mask requirements in some form to protect against the virus’s spread.

Though many health experts stress the importance of wearing masks to protect against the spread of the virus, their use has been under debate in the public.

Texas Republican Louie Gohmert, who has frequently refused to wear a mask, has tested positive for the virus.

Gohmert told KETK on Wednesday he may have contracted coronavirus by incorrectly wearing his mask.

“I can’t help but think that if I hadn’t been wearing a mask so much in the last 10 days or so, I really wonder if I would have gotten it,” Gohmert added. “You know, moving the mask around, getting it just right, we’re bound to put some virus on the mask that I sucked in. That’s most likely what happened.”

While wearing a mask incorrectly can expose a person to the virus, experts say it primarily spreads person to person.

Florida sheriff issues more than 200 citations for gatherings

Florida’s Broward County sheriff says he’s got no plans to end an operation cracking down on large gatherings, which has already resulted in more than 200 citations.

The operation’s goals were two-fold, Sheriff Gregory Tony said in a virtual news conference Wednesday: to reduce the large gatherings that were taking place and to crack down on “roving car clubs” that were bringing dozens of young people together throughout certain parts of the community.

There have been more than 1,100 calls of service about parties and social gatherings, the sheriff said.

In the two weeks since the operation was launched, Tony says police have responded to at least 13 different gatherings or parties and issued more than 260 different citations.

“Anytime we’re having large gatherings of 100, 150 plus people, it’s crystal clear that we’re not seeing a compliance with the CDC recommendations and therefore more people will contract this virus,” the sheriff said.

“We have no interest at this point in time to discontinue having this type of enforcement operation,” he said.

Broward County borders Miami-Dade County, which has been called by some experts the country’s new coronavirus epicenter, with overwhelmed hospitals and maxed out ICUs sounding the alarm over the rise in patients. And in the last week, sick Floridians seeking treatment in Miami-Dade County spilled over to the neighboring county’s hospitals.

And across the state, the daily number of coronavirus-related deaths broke a record Wednesday for the second day in a row.

During his news conference, the sheriff urged the use of face masks, asking residents in the community to take a “common sense approach.”

“It’s not about the individual person anymore,” Tony said. “When you don’t wear a mask when you don’t comply, you are potentially exposing someone else. So it’s not simply about what you can do for yourself as well what you can do for other people that you don’t even know.”

He said several businesses who weren’t following coronavirus guidelines were shut down for at least a day or fined.

“We do need to get better compliance out of our community, they need to take on a greater deal of social responsibility. If not, we will be out there enforcing, citing, and writing notices,” the sheriff said.

Stop the spread of COVID-19

To help stop the spread of the coronavirus, the CDC recommends wearing a face mask.

Masks are required in public places in some states and businesses. Multiple major retailers have announced mask requirement policies as the nation continues to see a large number of cases reported in certain areas.

The CDC also recommends you keep 6 feet of distance between yourself and others.

Make sure to wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

For more tips on how to stay safe, CLICK HERE.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.