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Coronavirus cases spike in parts of California, US south-west

This article is more than 12 months old

SACRAMENTO: Coronavirus cases and hospitalisations are spiking in parts of California and the US south-west, prompting Arizona to reactivate its emergency plan for medical facilities and California to place counties where half its population lives on a watch list.

The uptick in cases, which could lead authorities to reimpose or tighten public health restrictions aimed at slowing the virus' spread, complicates efforts to reopen the US economy, which has been devastated by shelter-at-home rules.

New Jersey, one of the states hit hardest by the pandemic with more than 12,000 deaths, lifted its stay-at-home order on Tuesday.

More than 18 million of California's 39 million residents live in counties now on the watch list, which includes Los Angeles, Santa Clara and Fresno, a Reuters analysis showed.

"Many of the cases that are showing up in hospitals are linked to gatherings that are taking place in homes - birthday parties and funerals," said Ms Olivia Kasirye, public health director of Sacramento County, one of the nine counties on the state watch list that may eventually require them to roll back reopening efforts.

Arizona was among the first states to reopen in mid-May and its cases have increased 115 per cent since then, leading a former state health chief to warn that a new stay-at-home order or field hospitals may be needed.

According to a Reuters tally, there were 1,983,825 coronavirus cases in the US and 111,747 deaths as of Tuesday.

On Tuesday, 21 US states reported weekly increases in new cases of Covid-19.

Arizona, Utah and New Mexico all posted rises of 40 per cent or higher for the week ended Sunday, compared with the prior seven days, according to a Reuters analysis.

Some of the new cases are linked to better testing. But many stem from loosened public health restrictions that have allowed people to gather in groups and go inside stores to shop, said public health officers in two California counties.

PASSED ALONG

Health officials believe other cases have been passed along by people not following social-distancing recommendations. It is too soon to see whether cases will also spike after protests swept the country over the May 25 death in Minneapolis police custody of Mr George Floyd, an African-American man, officials said.

The number of new infections in the first week of June rose 3 per cent in the US, the first increase after five weeks of declines, according to an analysis of data from the Covid Tracking Project, a volunteer-run effort to track the outbreak.

But pressure to reopen economies is great, and states continued to lift coronavirus-related restrictions on Tuesday. - REUTERS, AFP

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