The gains the people of Louisiana made against Covid-19 in June have been wiped out over the past three weeks, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Wednesday.
“We have a statewide pandemic. It’s no longer one or two regions,” Edwards told reporters in Baton Rouge.
Edwards’ announcement comes as the United States passed 3 million coronavirus cases.
Louisiana’s health department reported 1,891 new cases Wednesday, 95% of which are from community spread, according to Edwards. Data from Johns Hopkins University shows the moving seven-day average of cases in the state hasn’t been this high since early April.
Some hospitals are running out of ICU capacity
In Florida, 42 hospitals on Wednesday had no more capacity in their intensive care units – down from 56 a day earlier – and others are running low, but the state Agency for Health Care Administration said, “Hospitals have the ability to convert beds and bring additional ICU beds online in a surge situation when necessary.”
Dr. Nicholas Namias, the medical director at the trauma center at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, told CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper” that it is a balancing act between trying to have isolation bed capacity and treating other patients who need routine care.
“Right now we’re not looking at anything apocalyptic going on in the hospital but we are flirting every day with the edge of capacity,” he said.
He said some of the Covid patients are young people who are on ventilators.
In Arizona, the state has set records for daily death counts about once a week, including Tuesday – the same day the state reported its lowest-ever number of ICU beds available.
“We need medical professionals. We need testing kits. We need supplies immediately,” Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said Tuesday. “Our hospital is already in dire straits, and they tell us in the next two weeks it is going to get to an unbearable level of crisis.”
On Georgia’s coronavirus website, the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency says 18% of critical care hospital beds remain available and 17% of inpatient beds are available statewide. The figures are several percentage points lower than a week ago.
The pandemic worsens
The first reported case of Covid-19 came on January 21. Within 99 days, 1 million Americans became infected.
It took just 43 days after that to reach 2 million cases.
And 28 days later, on Wednesday, the US reached 3 million cases of the novel coronavirus.
The ferocious speed at which Covid-19 spreads has astounded doctors, with more than 132,000 people dying from the disease since January, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The rate of new cases is increasing in 35 states, threatening to reverse the progress made during weeks of stressful shutdowns and stay-at-home orders.
The United States must control crowds, get people wearing masks and do a better job on physical distancing to get on top of the surging coronavirus pandemic as cases spike across parts of the South and Southwest, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said Wednesday.
“We’ve got to get our arms around this,” Fauci told the Wall Street Journal in a new podcast. “We’ve got to be stringent.”
Dr. Boris Lushniak, a past deputy US surgeon general, told CNN governments should adhere to the White House plan for reopening that was announced in April.
“The key feature of the plan was if the numbers don’t look good, if certain areas are still being affected, there is this mandate within that plan to roll back, to go back and be able to reassess what we’re doing from a public health measures perspective to prevent further disease, to prevent further deaths and to stop this spread of Covid-19,” he told Wolf Blitzer. “The plan is there, let’s follow it.”
‘Wear a mask, period.’
As of Monday, 35 states plus Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico had implemented some type of mask requirement. Fauci is “strongly in favor” of the mandates to curb the spread, he said.
“When you look at what we can do that we know works, it’s the use of masks, physical distance and avoiding crowds,” Fauci said Tuesday. “So, if you’re saying it doesn’t matter whether you put it on or take it off, you’re giving a wrong, mixed signal. The signal should be: Wear a mask, period.”
If most Americans heed the directive, as many as 45,000 fewer Americans will die of coronavirus this fall, according to Dr. Chris Murray, the director of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
The latest model, released Tuesday, projects as many as 208,000 coronavirus deaths by November 1.
The latest mask guidance
The new death rate stems from the recent surge in cases combined with seasonality and schools reopening, Murray said.
The number drops to 163,000 if most Americans wear a face mask, according to the model.
“It’s an incredibly simple strategy and intervention,” Murray said. “It’s one that will save lives, but it will also help the economy enormously because it will avoid shutdowns which will inevitably come when things get quickly out of control in some states.”
Some college students may return in fall
Colleges and universities across the country are navigating how to safely reopen and keep students in the classroom come fall.
New York University has implemented mask and social distancing measures for the next semester. Caps will be placed on enrollment and space capacity, and classroom occupancy will be reduced by 50%, according to an email from NYU leadership to the community.
As of July 15, all students, faculty and visitors at the University System of Georgia will also be mandated to wear masks, USG announced on its website.
Though Columbia University announced undergraduates and students of Columbia College and the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science will return in the fall, only 60% will be welcomed back. Most classes will still be taught in remote or hybrid form.
Brown University will shift its calendar and add a summer term to accommodate more students on campus at separate times, according to a letter to students from university President Christina Paxson.
The university will also offer virtual learning courses to all students, regardless of whether they are living on campus, and all classes with more than 20 students will be conducted remotely.
Advocates of higher education asked Congress on Tuesday to approve federal aid to help colleges and universities avoid budget cuts in the upcoming academic year.
“Higher education is a public good that benefits the entirety of our nation and our nation’s position in a global economy,” said Shaun Harper, president of the American Educational Research Association.
“Therefore, federal investment into higher education is really an investment into the economic security, the homeland security and the viability of the United States.”
On the sports side, Stanford University will cut 11 of its 36 varsity sports teams because of financial troubles exacerbated by the pandemic, the school, which has had the most successful sports program in NCAA Division I history, said. If the fencing, field hockey, women’s sailing and men’s rowing and volleyball teams are allowed to play the 2020-21 season, it will be their last.
CNN’s Amanda Watts, Sergio Hernandez, Keith Allen, Raja Razek, Nicole Chavez, Elizabeth Hartfield, Shelby Lin Erdman, Andrea Kane, Lindsay Benson, Eliott C. McLaughlin and Randi Kaye contributed to this report.