Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 August 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus: Hospital admissions rise as US heads into Fourth of July holiday

Coronavirus hot-spot Arizona reaches ICU capacity of 91%

People walk near the closed pier at Hermosa Beach in California ahead of the Fourth of July holiday. AFP
People walk near the closed pier at Hermosa Beach in California ahead of the Fourth of July holiday. AFP

As the United States heads into the Fourth of July holiday amid the worst surge of coronavirus infections the country has seen since the pandemic began, restrictions have tightened in most states as reopening plans are scaled back.

The US set another record on Friday with 52,300 newly reported cases, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

While North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Alaska all saw new daily highs.

Rising hospital admissions are forcing states to manage resources within increasingly busy intensive care units (ICU) to ensure there are sufficient numbers of beds and enough equipment available.

Arizona, which has become a coronavirus hotspot, reached new highs for hospital admissions and emergency room visits.

State health officials say the occupancy rate of hospital intensive care units is at an all-time high of 91 per cent.

The number of people in hospital on Thursday due to suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19 was 3,013, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. It is the first time that hospitals in the state have had to contend with more than 3,000 virus patients.

The number of people who sought emergency hospital treatment because of Covid-19 symptoms reached a record 1,847, nearly 500 more than a day earlier.

The state on Friday reported 4,433 confirmed cases and 31 deaths.

Medical personnel prepare to test hundreds of people lined up in vehicles in Phoenix for free Covid-19 tests. AP Photo
Medical personnel prepare to test hundreds of people lined up in vehicles in Phoenix for free Covid-19 tests. AP Photo

Beaches across Florida and California have closed ahead of the holiday weekend, with testing showing a rising Covid-19 infection rate.

California Governor Gavin Newsom has rolled back some of the plans to reopen businesses in Los Angeles and 18 other counties encompassing nearly three-quarters of the state’s population.

Recently reopened bars, indoor restaurant dining and other indoor entertainment venues were ordered closed back down for at least three weeks. Traditional fireworks shows were cancelled ahead of the weekend's festivities to avoid drawing crowds.

Meanwhile in Florida, which on Thursday set a new daily record for infections, 9,488 new cases were reported as well as 67 deaths.

The state’s tally of hospital admissions rose again on Friday, with 341 new admissions, one of the biggest daily increases since the outbreak began.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez cited staffing shortages at hospitals in announcing a new curfew beginning on Friday.

Florida's most populous county imposed a curfew ahead of the Independence Day weekend

Across the state, about 20 per cent of ICU beds are currently available, though some hospitals have additional capacity that can be turned into ICU units.

Ten Democratic politicians urged Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Friday to require Floridians to wear masks. They want the governor to make masks mandatory in public spaces, indoors and outdoors, when social distancing isn’t possible. The Republican governor has resisted those calls.

“This is not a partisan issue; this is an issue of life and death,” the politicians said in a letter to Mr DeSantis.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump will begin his Independence Day weekend on Friday with a patriotic display of fireworks at Mount Rushmore, an event expected to draw thousands but where mask-wearing and social-distancing are not required.

Mr Trump is expected to speak at the event, for which 7,500 tickets have been issued so people can watch fireworks that he says will be a “display like few people have seen.”

The president is seeking a show of support after the poorly-attended rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The state's Republican Party has begun selling T-shirts that feature Mr Trump on the memorial alongside George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.

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Updated: July 4, 2020 02:42 AM

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