As coronavirus cases reach new highs and outbreaks continue to grow steeply in the U.S. South and West, and the daily national death toll rises, officials in two battered states are warning that they may need to reverse reopenings that had followed a national lull in confirmed infections.
The United States on Friday reached 60,000 new cases for the first time, and the number ultimately soared to more than 68,000 — setting a single-day record for the seventh time in 11 days, according to a New York Times database. South Carolina on Saturday reported 2,280 new cases, a single-day record.
And eight states set single-day death records this week: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Tennessee. The country’s seven-day death average reached 642 on Friday, up from 471 earlier this month, but still a fraction of the more than 2,200 deaths the country averaged each day in mid-April, when the outbreak in the Northeast was at its worst.
In Texas, which reported record numbers of daily cases four times this week, Gov. Greg Abbott signaled the possibility of a new economic “lockdown” if the state cannot curtail the caseloads and hospitalizations that have made it one of the country’s worst hot spots in the pandemic.
Mr. Abbott, a Republican, predicted in a televised interview that “things will get worse” and said that he might take steps even more drastic than a statewide face-mask requirement that has angered members of his party.
“I made clear that I made this tough decision for one reason: It was our last best effort to slow the spread of Covid-19,” he said.
In Georgia, which reported more than 4,000 new cases on Friday, Atlanta officials said they were preparing to shift back to “Phase 1” guidelines, which call for residents to largely stay at home. Most of Georgia’s cases have been concentrated in the counties making up the Atlanta metropolitan area.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta, who said she had tested positive for the coronavirus this week, issued a mask mandate in the city on Wednesday and added further limits on large gatherings.
Georgia’s growing concerns were also underscored when Gov. Brian Kemp said that the state was again transforming a convention center in Atlanta into a makeshift medical center as hospitals were filling with patients.
A new global record for daily infections was also reached Friday, as the World Health Organization reported that 228,102 new cases had surfaced. The other nations showing the largest daily increases in cases were Brazil, Mexico, India and South Africa.