U.S. states scramble to curb COVID as California sets record before lockdown

By Barbara Goldberg (Reuters) - California shattered records for coronavirus cases on Sunday as U.S. states scrambled to impose lockdowns to stem spikes in infections and the White House's task force coordinator decried a lack of national leadership on curbing the disease. California reported 30,075 new cases, far more than its previous record of 21,986 on Dec.

Reuters December 07, 2020 03:10:49 IST
U.S. states scramble to curb COVID as California sets record before lockdown

US states scramble to curb COVID as California sets record before lockdown

By Barbara Goldberg

(Reuters) - California shattered records for coronavirus cases on Sunday as U.S. states scrambled to impose lockdowns to stem spikes in infections and the White House's task force coordinator decried a lack of national leadership on curbing the disease.

California reported 30,075 new cases, far more than its previous record of 21,986 on Dec. 4, as well as a new record for hospitalized COVID-19 patients. New Jersey, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia also announced record one-day rises in new infections.

As the number of cases skyrockets in the nation's most populous state, California authorities have ordered tough new restrictions to come into effect at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley. Bars, hair salons and barbershops must close, while restaurants can only offer takeout or delivery.

The San Francisco Bay Area will also go into lockdown starting at 10 p.m. on Sunday, under a separate set of orders.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus Task Force coordinator, expressed frustration on Sunday over the mixed messages coming from the Trump administration that are reflected in some Americans' perception about masks, social distancing and superspreader events in the months before vaccines are widely available in the spring.

"Right now, across the Sun Belt, we have governors and mayors who have cases equivalent to what they had in the summertime yet aren't putting in the same policies and mitigations that they put in the summer, that they know changed the course of this pandemic across the South," she said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"So it is frustrating because not only do we know what works, governors and mayors used those tools to stem the tide in the spring and the summer," Birx said.

Only about half of the 50 U.S. states have enacted new restrictions in the last month as cases, deaths and hospitalizations hit record levels nationwide. Fourteen states do not mandate masks.

President-elect Joe Biden, a Democrat who defeated Donald Trump in the November election, has said that upon taking office on Jan. 20 he will enact mask mandates where he has authority, such as federal buildings and for interstate travel.

While many businesses are shutting down, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, says schools should reopen before bars, after health experts in Europe and Britain found that children may have lower infectivity than adults.

In New York City, some public schools in the nation's largest school district prepared to reopen for daily in-person classes on Monday after a citywide shutdown. An estimated 190,000 children in programs geared for early childhood, elementary and special needs students will be eligible to return to classrooms, the city said.

New York girds to reopen schools while across the Hudson River neighboring New Jersey over the weekend halted indoor youth sports after at least 28 outbreaks affected 170 people. Governor Phil Murphy's ban targets sports such as basketball, ice hockey and swimming, including practice and competition, until at least Jan. 2.

While individual states are rushing in often seemingly different directions, the nation as a whole is the grim leader in global infections and deaths. The United States is now reporting nearly 190,000 new infections on average each day and accounts for one in every 20 deaths reported worldwide each day. (Graphic: https://tmsnrt.rs/34pvUyi)

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Daniel Wallis)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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