July 10, 2020, 2:20 p.m. EDT

Coronavirus update: Health officials clamor for U.S. states to pause reopenings amid spikes in COVID-19 infections

A growing chorus of voices urges states to reconsider moves toward reopening businesses and institutions as U.S. counts another 60,000 cases in a single day, while Trump administration ramps up call for schools to return to full in-person operation

new
Watchlist Relevance
LEARN MORE

Want to see how this story relates to your watchlist?

Just add items to create a watchlist now:

  • X
    Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD)
  • X
    United Airlines Holdings Inc. (UAL)
  • X
    Carrier Global Corp. (CARR)

or Cancel Already have a watchlist? Log In

By Ciara Linnane, MarketWatch


Getty Images
Mississippi State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs says his state has run out of intensive-care-unit beds.

U.S. states that are experiencing major problems with new infections of the coronavirus illness COVID-19 should pause their reopening efforts to get the outbreak under control and encourage residents to wear face masks, wash their hands regularly and socially distance.

That’s according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, in comments Thursday in separate interviews in which he again said the U.S. is not doing well at containing the spread of the deadly illness.

Fauci seemed to walk back comments made Wednesday urging states to “seriously look at shutting down,” a position that put him at odds with President Donald Trump, who has been pushing aggressively for the U.S. to reopen for business, against the advice of his own health experts. This week he and allies have placed particular emphasis on the reopening of schools.

On Thursday, Fauci, who is considered to be the nation’s leading infectious-disease expert, said pausing would give states the chance to look “at what did not work well and try to mitigate that. ... I don’t think we need to go back to an extreme of shutting down.”

See: CDC won’t revise guidelines for reopening schools, despite Trump claim

Fauci also lamented that partisanship has made the fight against coronavirus tougher. “When you don’t have unanimity in an approach to something, you’re not as effective in how you handle it,” he said in an interview Thursday with FiveThirtyEight’s PODCAST-19. “So I think you’d have to make the assumption that, if there wasn’t such divisiveness, that we would have a more coordinated approach.”

His comments came a day after another leading public health expert, Michael Osterholm, head of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said the U.S. needs to go back to Square 1. “We have to shut down again and bring the U.S. back up slowly, in a measured way,” Osterholm said in an interview on MSNBC.

The U.S. saw more than 60,000 new infections on Thursday, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University , and the death toll has started to move higher amid a wave of hospitalizations in states in the South and West. Thirty-eight states have seen a rise in cases in the last 14 days, according to a New York Times tracker.

There was grim news from Mississippi Health Officer Thomas Dobbs, who said Thursday that the state’s five biggest medical groups have run out of intensive-care-unit beds, the Washington Post reported. ‘Mississippi hospitals cannot take care of Mississippi patients,” Dobbs said.

Harvard Global Health Institute researchers have developed a national tracker to trace the severity of the outbreak on a state-by-state basis, and it’s flashing red for Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina and Georgia, with 25 cases per 100,000 people.

“Once a community reaches the red risk level, stay-at-home orders become necessary again,” the researchers wrote.

At least one of those states, Florida, is unlikely to consider shutting down again, after Gov. Ron DeSantis showed his determination to reopen schools in the Sunshine State in the fall, in line with Trump’s push, which has included threatening to withhold federal education funds. DeSantis drew criticism after saying Thursday that if retailers like Walmart and Home Depot are open, schools should be, too.

The risk of children getting sick is “extremely, extremely low,” DeSantis said, according to a Tampa Bay Times report , and if stores are essential businesses during the pandemic, schools should reopen as well.

Sate education officials said they will stick with reopening plans that include online learning from home. Broward School Superintendent Robert Runcie told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that “we do not see a realistic path” to schools opening five days a week.

While the virus initially proved fatal mostly for older people, young people and children have also seen horrifying side effects from the illness, including a rare but sometimes life-threatening condition that is being called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C. The condition presents with symptoms that often differ from kid to kid, and can include fever, stomach pain and rashes, as well as red eyes, loss of appetite and lethargy.

Earlier this week, U.K. neurologists published a report on how the virus can cause brain damage, including strokes, psychosis and paranoia in some patients.

From MarketWatch partner Financial News: Coronavirus R-rate rises in London as cases multiply

1 2
This Story has 0 Comments
Be the first to comment
More News In
Industries

Story Conversation

Commenting FAQs »
Link to MarketWatch's Slice.