The spread of coronavirus infections has taken a “fast and very dangerous turn” in the US state of Texas, said Governor Greg Abbott.
“In the past few weeks, the daily number of cases has gone from an average of 2,000 to more than 5,000,” said Abbott on Sunday.
Several southern and western states have seen an increase in cases after the reduction of blocking restrictions.
The number of infections reported in the USA has already exceeded 2.5 million.
More than 125,000 Covid-19 patients died across the country – more than in any other country.
The virus is now associated with more than 500,000 deaths worldwide, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University in the USA.
What’s the latest about the increase in cases in the US?
The increase has prompted authorities in Texas, Florida and other states to tighten restrictions on business again, with warnings that hospitals may soon be overwhelmed.
On Sunday, Abbott said about 5,000 people a day were being admitted to the hospital for treatment.
US Vice President Mike Pence said Texas will receive additional Covid-19 test kits for as long as necessary.
“We are going to make sure that Texas, and its health care system in Texas, has the resources, supplies and personnel necessary to meet this moment,” said Pence.
The vice president also asked Texans to wear masks “wherever indicated”, saying “we know from experience that it will slow the spread of the coronavirus”.
House of Democrats President Nancy Pelosi, who was speaking at a news conference with Governor Abbott on Sunday, said a national mandate to wear face covers is “definitely long overdue”.
“We have the worst record of any country in the world,” he added.
In the Texas state capital, Austin, the requirement to use facial coverings in some circumstances to help mitigate the spread of the virus has led to demonstrations on city streets by people who opposed the move.
On Sunday, Arizona also recorded a record daily increase of more than 3,800 cases. Hundreds of people traveled to rivers in the state to escape the hot weather.
The reported increases in infections in the southern and western states come after changes in recent weeks to reopen businesses, resulting in people from other areas entering.
Responding to the level of new cases, Abbott told bars last week to close and limit seating capacity in indoor restaurants to 50%. Previously, restaurants were allowed to operate at 75% capacity and bars at 50%.
In the Texas city of Galena Park, east of Houston, the mayor imposed a curfew on Saturday night and warned that hospitals could soon be overwhelmed.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis also imposed restrictions, ordering state bars to stop drinking alcohol on their premises.
In California, Governor Gavin Newsom ordered the closing of bars in Los Angeles and six other counties on Sunday, warning that the virus “has not disappeared”. He urged people to wear masks, follow hygiene guidelines and “take it seriously”.
What is the general situation in the USA?
On Sunday, Johns Hopkins University said the total number of cases in the country increased to 2,548,991. Although part of the increase has fallen for more extensive tests, the rate of positive tests in some areas is also increasing.
Health authorities estimate that the actual number of cases is 10 times greater than the confirmed total. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said that up to 20 million Americans may have been infected.
The increase in cases was being driven by young people – aged 18 to 34 – with positive results, especially in the southern and western United States, said CDC chief Dr. Robert Redfield.
The White House said the situation was stabilizing in most parts of the country.
At a coronavirus briefing on Friday, Pence hailed “the Trump administration’s truly remarkable progress in advancing our nation,” highlighting improvements in job numbers and retail sales.
Covid-19 appeared in China at the end of last year and has spread around the world. Coronavirus cases worldwide have already exceeded 10 million, reports Johns Hopkins.
Half of the cases worldwide have occurred in the US and Europe, but the virus is now growing rapidly in the Americas.