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Coronavirus information
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Dr. Joseph Varon, right, leads a team as they try to save the life of a patient unsuccessfully inside the Coronavirus Unit at United Memorial Medical Center on July 6, 2020, in Houston.

David J. Phillip/The Associated Press

On the first day of summer, 300 Texas high-school students gathered for a “Pong Fest” party in the wealthy Lakeway suburb of Austin. Some of the teens had recently received tests for COVID-19, but did not bother waiting for the results before going to the gathering. As it turned out, several were positive for the novel coronavirus and exposed a swath of their peers. In the weeks that followed, Lakeway’s cases more than doubled, to 219 from 105.

While the party may have been reckless, it also appears to have been legal. At the time, gatherings of up to 500 people were allowed in the state despite the pandemic.

The episode is emblematic of the country’s coronavirus resurgence: disproportionately affecting young people, exploding in states with a lax attitude to public health and fuelled by attempts to swiftly lift physical-distancing measures.

Story continues below advertisement

The U.S. has now notched more than 3.3 million cases. Its infection rate is 10,015 per million, more than triple that of Canada. On Friday, there were 66,627 new cases, more than any country has ever recorded in a single day.

counties most vulnerable

to coronavirus

While major U.S. cities have been hard hit by

COVID-19, rural and semi-rural counties are highly

vulnerable to infection because of a number of com-

bined issues. David J. Peters of Iowa State University

created a county-level scale using risk factors for

COVID-19 to analyze community susceptibility and

resiliency to the current pandemic. Factors such as

population density, percentage of elderly, those

living in group quarters or institutional settings and

health status were considered. The study concluded

that non-metropolitan counties, including rural,

were more vulnerable to the disease than metro-

politan areas.The findings were published in the

Journal of Rural Health.

COVID-19 Susceptibility Scores

By Quintiles, survey of 3,079 counties

0-19%

20-39%

40-59%

60-79%

80-100%

JOHN SOPINSKI and murat yÜkselir/THE GLOBE

AND MAIL, SOURCE: david j. peters, journal of

rural health

counties most vulnerable

to coronavirus

While major U.S. cities have been hard hit by COVID-19,

rural and semi-rural counties are highly vulnerable to

infection because of a number of combined issues.

David J. Peters of Iowa State University created a county-

level scale using risk factors for COVID-19 to analyze

community susceptibility and resiliency to the current

pandemic. Factors such as population density, percentage

of elderly, those living in group quarters or institutional

settings and health status were considered. The study

concluded that non-metropolitan counties, including rural,

were more vulnerable to the disease than metropolitan

areas.The findings were published in the Journal of

Rural Health.

COVID-19 Susceptibility Scores

By Quintiles, survey of 3,079 counties

20-39%

40-59%

60-79%

0-19%

80-100%

JOHN SOPINSKI and murat yÜkselir/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

SOURCE: david j. peters, journal of rural health

counties most vulnerable to coronavirus

While major U.S. cities have been hard hit by COVID-19, rural and semi-rural counties are highly

vulnerable to infection because of a number of combined issues. David J. Peters of Iowa State

University created a county-level scale using risk factors for COVID-19 to analyze community

susceptibility and resiliency to the current pandemic. Factors such as population density, per-

centage of elderly, those living in group quarters or institutional settings and health status were

considered. The study concluded that non-metropolitan counties, including rural, were more

vulnerable to the disease than metropolitan areas.The findings were published

in the Journal of Rural Health.

COVID-19

Susceptibility

Scores

By Quintiles

Survey of 3,079

counties

0-19%

20-39%

40-59%

60-79%

80-100%

JOHN SOPINSKI and murat yÜkselir/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

SOURCE: david j. peters, journal of rural health

Epidemiologists point to several reasons. For one, numerous Southern and rural states were quick to lift containment measures, sometimes ending lockdown orders after as little as one month. For another, patchwork public-health infrastructure has hampered efforts to isolate and tamp down outbreaks.

California dreaming: From pandemic role model to cautionary tale

And many jurisdictions have allowed vectors of transmission, from megachurch services to Donald Trump rallies, to go ahead. Even weather may play a part, with summer heat driving more Sun Belt residents indoors.

More than two-thirds of states currently have rising case counts. The worst-hit have mostly been ones that only briefly imposed physical-distancing rules.

In Arizona, for instance, Governor Doug Ducey lifted the state’s stay-at-home order on May 15 and urged constituents to immediately resume normal life. “I want to encourage people to get out and about, to take a loved one to dinner, to go retail shopping,” he told KTAR radio Phoenix in May. “It’s safe out there.”

How many coronavirus cases are there in Canada, by province, and worldwide? The latest maps and charts

COVID-19 news: Updates and essential resources about pandemic

Can I go to the gym? Do I have to wear a mask indoors? A guide to COVID-19 rules by province and territory

Now, Arizona is experiencing the fastest caseload rise of any state, with a growth rate triple that of the country as a whole. On Friday, it added 4,221 new coronavirus cases on a day where Canada marked 321.

Florida’s daily case count, meanwhile, has increased more than tenfold since the state reopened bars in June. In neighbouring Georgia, that figure has tripled since the state became the first to end stay-at-home directives in April. In South Carolina, daily numbers have nearly quadrupled over the past month.

Story continues below advertisement

In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott appeared reluctant to enforce his own physical-distancing orders. When Dallas hairdresser Shelley Luther repeatedly refused to close down her salon, Mr. Abbott lobbied for her not to be punished. Texas’s COVID-19 death rate is up more than 300 per cent over the past six weeks.

COVID-19 CASE TRENDS,

BY SELECTED STATES

As of July 9

Daily cases

7-day moving average

ARIZONA

Cases: 112,671

Deaths: 1,076

4,000

2,000

0

March

April

May

June

July

FLORIDA

Cases: 232,718

Deaths: 2,765

10,000

5,000

0

March

April

May

June

July

GEORGIA

Cases: 106,727

Deaths: 2,285

2,000

0

March

April

May

June

July

MISSISSIPPI

Cases: 33,591

Deaths: 847

1,000

0

March

April

May

June

July

SOUTH CAROLINA

Cases: 50,691

Deaths: 568

1,000

0

March

April

May

June

July

TEXAS

Cases: 236,541

Deaths: 1,867

10,000

5,000

0

March

April

May

June

July

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE:

JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY

COVID-19 CASE TRENDS,

BY SELECTED STATES

As of July 9

Daily cases

7-day moving average

ARIZONA

Cases: 112,671

Deaths: 1,076

4,000

2,000

0

March

April

May

June

July

FLORIDA

Cases: 232,718

Deaths: 2,765

10,000

5,000

0

March

April

May

June

July

GEORGIA

Cases: 106,727

Deaths: 2,285

2,000

0

March

April

May

June

July

MISSISSIPPI

Cases: 33,591

Deaths: 847

1,000

0

March

April

May

June

July

SOUTH CAROLINA

Cases: 50,691

Deaths: 568

1,000

0

March

April

May

June

July

TEXAS

Cases: 236,541

Deaths: 1,867

10,000

5,000

0

March

April

May

June

July

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY

COVID-19 CASE TRENDS, BY SELECTED STATES

As of July 9

Daily cases

7-day moving average

ARIZONA

FLORIDA

Cases: 112,671

Deaths: 1,076

Cases: 232,718

Deaths: 2,765

10,000

4,000

5,000

2,000

0

0

March

April

May

June

July

March

April

May

June

July

MISSISSIPPI

GEORGIA

Cases: 33,591

Deaths: 847

Cases: 106,727

Deaths: 2,285

1,000

2,000

0

0

March

April

May

June

July

March

April

May

June

July

SOUTH CAROLINA

TEXAS

Cases: 50,691

Deaths: 568

Cases: 236,541

Deaths: 1,867

10,000

1,000

5,000

0

0

March

April

May

June

July

March

April

May

June

July

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY

California, meanwhile, was the first to impose a lockdown in March and avoided the worst throughout the spring. But after Governor Gavin Newsom loosened the rules, allowing cities to lift restrictions, cases have spiked.

“In the U.S., they were on that path to flattening the curve, but the early reopening meant that you hadn’t got it under control,” Dr. Prabhat Jha, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, said in an interview. “I don’t call this a second wave. I call this an unfinished first wave.”

The current surge is most prevalent among younger people, suggesting that they may be more willing to risk exposure than older Americans. This could explain why, despite the rise in infections, the U.S.‘s daily death rate is currently only a quarter what it was in April.

Many states have also failed to put in place public-health infrastructure to contain the virus. In the Miami area, local mayors say, the state has hired so few contact tracers that only 17 per cent of people who test positive for COVID-19 are contacted by the program.

“Eighty per cent of the people that are told they’re positive are not given instructions, their contacts are not reached out to, they are not told to be … quarantined,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said outside Miami City Hall.

Story continues below advertisement

Jay Kaufman, an epidemiologist at McGill University, also pointed to major transmission spots that U.S. authorities have not controlled: Cramped slaughterhouses and crowded prisons have helped drive outbreaks, while Florida and other states declared churches “essential” and allowed thousands to keep attending services in person.

And the U.S.‘s weak social-safety net, Prof. Kaufman said, has put more pressure on people to go back to work in unsafe conditions than those in Canada have experienced.

“They have greater economic inequality, a large chunk of the population without access to health care, unemployment benefits that are more stingy and harder to access, and more meagre assistance for housing and food insecurity, especially so in the Southern states,” he told The Globe and Mail.

Canada also has the advantage of more tolerable summer weather, which pushes people outdoors, he said, while sweltering heat in the South incentivizes Americans to go into air-conditioned buildings where the risk of infection is greater.

Mr. Trump insists that cases are rising only because the country is testing more. But the number of cases is actually increasing more quickly than the frequency of testing. Public-health officials in Tulsa, Okla., said this week that the city had seen an abrupt rise in infections as a result of a rally the President held there last month.

Some states driving the current surge have begun reinstating some measures. Florida, Arizona and Texas have re-closed bars. Two weeks after the Pong Fest party, Mr. Abbott banned gatherings of more than 10 people.

Story continues below advertisement

It is not clear, however, whether they are doing enough. This week, Mr. Ducey declined to reimpose a stay-at-home order. Rather, he said, it was up to people of his state to ride out the escalating pandemic as best they can.

“This is a good excuse to, whatever series your friends have talked about on Netflix, to watch it,” he said. “We’re going to be living with this virus for the foreseeable future.”

See behind the scenes at Houston Methodist Hospital as COVID-19 cases soar across the U.S. and hospitals struggle to keep up.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

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