The White House claimed on Monday that the US has been “a leader” in the global fight against coronavirus, despite infections nationally now approaching 3m, with 130,000 deaths, and America recently witnessing the highest ever several new daily cases reported in the world.
With the majority of US states reporting increases in new cases, the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said at a briefing on Monday afternoon: “I think the world is looking at us as a leader in Covid-19.”
The US has not yet got new infections under control, according to the leading public health expert Dr. Anthony Fauci’s recent alarming comments to Congress. And the EU chose not to include the US as a country approved for non-essential travel as it starts to open its borders.
This as officials in states across America’s southern sunbelt are closing down parts of the economy again.
Parts of Arizona, Florida, and Texas are all rolling back economic reopenings due to surges in Covid-19 infections. All three states reopened swiftly this spring, and local officials are now attributing an explosion of cases to those early decisions.
Florida surpassed 200,000 cases over the weekend with the pace of new diagnoses quickening. But even as Florida saw a particularly large rise, the governor, Ron DeSantis, said at a press conference on Monday: “I think we’ve stabilized.”
He stopped short of calling for mandatory face coverings in public, and encouraged people to “avoid closed spaces, crowded places, close-contact settings”. Despite evidence to the contrary, he also continued to push hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid-19. Scientists now believe the drug is ineffective.
Meanwhile, local officials in DeSantis’s state rolled back the economic reopenings of the spring over concern hospitals, especially in south Florida, could soon be overwhelmed.
“We want to ensure our hospitals continue to have the staffing necessary to save lives,” said Miami-Dade county’s mayor, Carlos A Gimenez, as he closed bars, all restaurant dining, banquet halls, gyms, and short-term rentals. “If we see crowding and people not following public health rules, I will be forced to close beaches again,” he said.
Houston’s mayor, Sylvester Turns, told CBS on Sunday that, like Gimenez, his major concern in Texas was now hospital staffing.
“We can always provide additional beds,” Turner said. “But we need the people, the nurses and everybody else, the medical professionals, to staff those beds.”
Closures and hand-wringing come after the Fourth of July weekend, a holiday is known for drinking and partying, and on the heels of similar restrictions imposed in Arizona and Texas.
“I’m still worried about [the] July 4 weekend and hoping that we don’t have the same spike after that that we did on Memorial Day weekend,” Steve Adler, mayor of Austin, Texas, said in an interview to local news station KVUE, referring to the late May holiday. “The numbers are scary if we don’t change the trajectory.”