Why are states seeing a sudden increase in coronavirus cases? Experts have more than one answer
New York and Chicago, where coronavirus cases increased at the start of the pandemic, have declined and have started to reopen gradually.
However, this trend does not continue throughout the rest of the country.
The rising number of cases in Arizona has drawn legislators' attention back to the public health crisis from protests following the death of George Floyd.
Chuck Schumer, chair of the Senate Minority, DN.Y., has asked members of the government's Coronavirus Task Force, specifically naming Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, to hold a briefing next week for Democratic senators on the surge in cases in Arizona and elsewhere in the USA to perform after his office.
Other states that have experienced a sudden increase in COVID-19 cases are South Carolina, Florida, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Mississippi, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Puerto Rico .
Although experts are not sure why these states are experiencing an unexpected increase in certain cases, they could say that lifting restrictions, isolated outbreaks and catching viruses could play a role in previously unaffected communities.
"This virus is much more blotchy," said Arnold Monto, professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan. "It is so complicated that it is probably not right for people to give you an easy answer."
States that have seen an increase since reopening
In April, the Trump administration announced country reopening guidelines that included a 14-day decline in confirmed coronavirus cases or a decrease in positive tests as a percentage of the total number of tests over that period.
However, some states wishing to work again did not meet these federal government guidelines prior to reopening.
Florida's first phase began on May 18, when restaurants, retail stores, and half-capacity museums were reopened. Not only did the state not see a two-week drop in cases, it also reported an increase in cases per day and week before reopening. On May 10, Florida reported 594 cases, according to Johns Hopkins. Five days later there were more than 800 cases.
About three weeks later, on June 5, Governor Ron DeSantis continued to reopen the second phase, although daily cases had passed the 1,000 mark and have continued to do so for the past seven days.
The Florida Department of Health announced a record 1,698 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday morning. This was the largest surge in the state in a day since the pandemic started.
In Tennessee, Governor Bill Lee said Wednesday that the recent surge in the state of coronavirus infections and hospitalizations is an expected result of the reopening of much of its economy, and urged residents to double the precautions to further spread the virus prevent.
Georgia in particular is not on the list of states where cases are on the rise, said Dr. Jeffrey Shaman, professor of environmental health at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. Governor Brian Kemp was heavily criticized when Peach State was one of the first states to start reopening in April.
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The curve has remained relatively flat in the six weeks since the restrictions in Georgia were relaxed. Shamans said this could be due to the behavior of the residents, suggesting that people continue to seek protection despite the lifting of the blocks.
It's hard to know for sure since there is no real data on how many companies have really reopened or what percentage of people actually wear masks, he said.
However, according to an analysis of the August Chronicle, Georgia Public Health reported the results of 7,684 tests on Tuesday, of which 9.8% were positive, almost twice as much as the previous day.
"We don't want to be completely involved in a numbers game," said Monto. "What we have to look at are patterns."
Outbreaks of the coronavirus community
Both Monto and Shaman say that another reason for unexpected spikes in some states is “super spreaders”, events or closed outbreaks in the community.
A super spreader is an infected person who can spread the disease to a large number of people.
"We have a lot of anecdotes and it is difficult to define who is a super spreader, you only know afterwards," he said.
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Other states say their spike is due to a local outbreak in a confined space such as a nursing home, prison, or meat packing facility.
The Texas Department of Health attributes the rise in the state in coronavirus cases to increased testing in prisons.
According to the Texas Tribune, the number of prisoners infected with the virus increased from about 2,500 to 6,900 in the two weeks since test results began being reported on May 26. The total number of cases increased by 34% from May 25 to June 7. Almost a quarter of the increase came from 10 counties with prisons and meat packaging plants.
"They have clusters, they have nursing homes, meat packaging, and they add a lot of cases," said Monto. "So that also has to be taken into account."
The number of coronavirus cases related to meat packaging factories has more than doubled since President Donald Trump enacted the Defense Production Act in late April to force slaughterhouses and processing plants to stay open.
The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting found more than 20,400 infections in 216 plants in 33 states.
In the United States, some of the highest counts of coronavirus cases have recently occurred in counties with one or more meat packaging plants - Buena Vista County, Iowa; Beadle County, South Dakota; Yell County, Arkansas; and Titus County, Texas, for example. According to a data analysis by USA TODAY, all cases have more than doubled in the past two weeks.
States catching up to the pandemic
Not much is known about the seasonality of the virus, as it has only been around for six months. But if it's something like the flu, Monto says, it could come in waves.
"I think" catching up "is a phenomenon," he said. "If you miss the first wave, catch up in the second wave."
There's a break with the flu in summer, says Monto. States that are not affected by the seasonal virus in the spring usually see an increase in flu infections in a second wave.
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However, there is no data to support this coronavirus hypothesis. In fact, seasonality doesn't seem to be a factor, as hot southern states like Arizona and New Mexico have risen in some cases.
In Greenville County, South Carolina, the percentage of positive cases recently tripled from 2.9% on May 27 to 9.4% on June 3, prompting state health officials to label it as a "hot spot." “Classified for corona viruses.
Schamane said an increase in cases could be due to a lack of social detachment, face mask wear, and other non-pharmaceutical prevention methods touted by public health experts in the past six months.
Protesters march during a rally in Cesar Chavez Park on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, in Laveen, Arizona, to protest the death of George Floyd, who died on May 25 after being detained by the police in Minneapolis .
"If you look at the protests, you can see the difference between the communities," said Shaman. "In New York, everyone wears a face mask and others don't."
While an increase in cases can be caused for several reasons, Monto said states should take care and take preventive measures to prevent a major outbreak.
“The takeaway message is that the virus is still there. It's everywhere, it won't go away, ”he said. "We cannot be complacent."
Contributors: Brett Kelman, USA TODAY Network
Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT.
Health and patient safety coverage in the U.S. TODAY is partially made possible through a grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation, and Healthcare Competition. The Masimo Foundation makes no editorial contributions.
This article originally appeared in the US TODAY: Coronavirus: Experts explain why COVID-19 cases are increasing in these countries
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