California, Southwest face new coronavirus woes as U.S. economy reopens
Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are spiking in parts of California and the U.S. Southwest, prompting Arizona to reactivate its emergency plan for medical facilities and California to place counties where half its population lives on a watch list.
The uptick in cases, which could lead authorities to reimpose or tighten public health restrictions aimed at slowing the virus’ spread, complicates efforts to reopen the U.S. economy, which has been devastated by shelter-at-home rules.
New Jersey, one of the states hit hardest by the pandemic, with over 12,000 deaths, lifted its stay-at-home order on Tuesday.
More than 18 million of California’s 39 million residents live in counties now on the watch list, which includes Los Angeles, Santa Clara and Fresno, a Reuters analysis showed.
“Many of the cases that are showing up in hospitals are linked to gatherings that are taking place in homes - birthday parties and funerals,” said Olivia Kasirye, public health director of Sacramento County, one of the nine counties on the state watch list that may eventually require them to roll back reopening efforts.
Arizona was among the first states to reopen in mid-May and its cases have increased 115% since then, leading a former state health chief to warn that a new stay-at-home order or field hospitals may be needed.
According to a Reuters tally, there were 1,983,825 coronavirus cases in the United States and 111,747 deaths as of Tuesday.