The spread of coronavirus infections has taken a “rapid and very dangerous turn” in the US state of Texas, warned Governor Greg Abbott.
“In recent weeks, the daily number of cases has increased from an average of around 2,000 to more than 5,000 a day,” he said on Sunday.
Several southern and western states have seen an increase in the number of cases after the relaxation of lock restrictions.
The number of infections reported in the United States has now exceeded 2.5 million.
It is confirmed that more than 125,000 Covid-19 patients have died across the country – more than in any other country.
The virus is now linked to more than 500,000 deaths worldwide, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University in the United States.
What is the latest development in the US case wave?
The spike has led officials in Texas, Florida and other states to tighten restrictions on businesses, with warnings that hospitals may soon be overtaken.
Abbott said Sunday that up to 5,000 people a day are admitted to hospital for treatment.
US Vice President Mike Pence said Texas would receive additional Covid-19 test kits for as long as needed.
“We will make sure that Texas and your health care system in Texas have the resources, supplies and personnel to respond at this time,” said Mr. Pence.
The vice president also urged Texans to wear masks “wherever indicated”, saying “we know from experience that this will slow the spread of the coronavirus”.
House of Democrats Speaker Nancy Pelosi, speaking on Sunday at a joint press conference with Governor Abbott, said a national mandate to wear face covers was “certainly long overdue.”
“We have the worst record of any country in the world,” she added.
In the state capital of Texas, Austin, the requirement to wear a face cover in certain circumstances to help mitigate the spread of the virus has led to street protests by people who s objected to the measure.
Arizona also recorded a record daily increase of more than 3,800 cases on Sunday. Hundreds of people are said to have traveled to state rivers to escape the heat.
The reported increase in infections in the southern and western states comes after measures taken in recent weeks to reopen businesses, and people from other regions have flocked.
Responding to the level of new cases, Abbott told bars last week to close and limit restaurant seating to 50%. Restaurants were previously allowed to operate at 75% of their capacity and bars at 50%.
In the Texas town of Galena Park, east of Houston, the mayor imposed a night curfew on Saturday and warned that hospitals could soon be overwhelmed.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has also re-imposed restrictions, ordering state bars to stop serving alcohol on their premises.
What is the overall situation in the United States?
Johns Hopkins University said on Sunday that the total number of cases in the country had risen to 2,539,544. If part of the increase is due to further testing, the rate of positive tests in some areas is also increasing .
Health authorities believe the actual number of cases should be 10 times higher than the total confirmed. The American Center for Disease Control (CDC) has said that up to 20 million Americans may have been infected.
The increase in the number of cases was caused by young people – those between the ages of 18 and 34 – who tested positive, especially in the southern and western United States, said CDC chief Le Dr. Robert Redfield.
The White House said the situation was stabilizing in most of the country.
Friday at a briefing on coronaviruses, Pence praised “the truly remarkable progress of the Trump administration to move our country forward,” noting the improvement in employment and sales figures in the detail.
Covid-19 was launched in China late last year and has spread around the world. Coronavirus cases worldwide have exceeded 10 million, reports Johns Hopkins.
Half of the cases worldwide have occurred in the United States and Europe, but the virus is now spreading rapidly in the Americas.