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June 26, 2020, 4:04 p.m. EDT

Coronavirus case spikes cause states to retreat from reopenings

Confirmed coronavirus infections in the U.S. surge to an all-time one-day high of 40,000

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By Associated Press


Associated Press
Customers of the Rustic in Houston are greeted by a large bottle of hand sanitizer.

Texas and Florida reversed course and clamped down on bars again Friday in the nation’s biggest retreat yet as the number of confirmed coronavirus infections per day in the U.S. surged to an all-time high of 40,000.

Gov. Greg Abbott ordered all bars in Texas closed, while Florida banned alcohol at all such establishments. The two states joined the small but growing list of those that are either backtracking or putting any further reopenings of their economies on hold because of a comeback by the virus, mostly in the South and West.

Health experts have said a disturbingly large number of cases are being seen among young people who are going out again, often without wearing masks or observing other social-distancing rules.

“It is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars,” Abbott said.

Abbott had pursued up to now one of the most aggressive reopening schedules of any governor. The Republican not only resisted calls to order the wearing of masks but also refused until last week to let local governments take such measures.

Texas reported more than 17,000 new cases in the past three days, with a record high of nearly 6,000 on Thursday. In Florida, under GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis, the agency that governs bars acted after the daily number of new cases neared 9,000, almost doubling the record set just two days earlier.

Coronavirus update: U.S. sets record for new COVID-19 cases in a single day, as Texas becomes first state to reimpose restrictions

Colleen Corbett, a 30-year-old bartender at two places in Tampa, said that she was disappointed and worried about being unemployed again but that the restrictions are the right move. Most customers, she said, were not wearing masks.

“Bars were at normal capacity, not COVID capacity,” Corbett said. “It was like they forgot there was a pandemic or just stopped caring.”

A number of the hardest-hit states, including Texas, Florida, Arizona and Arkansas, have Republican governors who have resisted mask-wearing requirements and have largely echoed President Donald Trump’s desire to reopen the economy quickly.

From the MarketWatch archives (April 27): ‘People should be comforted in knowing that all those predictions of hundreds of thousands of people hospitalized were not accurate,’ says Florida’s DeSantis

Also see: Pressure builds on Senate Republicans to move in direction of $3 trillion coronavirus relief measure favored by Democrats

Amid the surge, the White House coronavirus task force, led by Vice President Pence, held its first briefing in nearly two months, signaling a recognition that the administration’s can’t ignore the alarming increases.

Pence gave assurances that the U.S. is “in a much better place” than it was two months ago. He said the country has more medical supplies on hand now, a smaller share of patients are being hospitalized, and deaths are much lower than they were in the spring.

The count of new confirmed infections, provided by Johns Hopkins University, eclipsed the previous high of 36,400, set on April 24, during one of the deadliest stretches in the crisis. Newly reported cases per day have risen on average about 60 percent over the past two weeks, according to an Associated Press analysis.

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