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Texas halts reopening as US virus cases soar

Texas was among the most aggressive states in reopening in early June after months of lockdown.

Image: David J. Phillip

TEXAS HAS HALTED steps to reopen its economy after a sharp rise in coronavirus cases, as the United States hits some of its highest infection rates since the start of the pandemic.

Twenty-nine states are now experiencing new surges, with more than 37,667 new cases recorded yesterday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – a level approaching a new record – with 692 new deaths reported.

In a likely sign of the situation’s seriousness, Vice President Mike Pence announced that the White House coronavirus task force would give a press conference today at the Department of Health and Human Services, the first of its kind in almost two months.

Texas was among the most aggressive states in reopening in early June after months of lockdown, its leadership confident it had escaped the worst of the pandemic that has claimed almost 122,000 lives in the US, by far the highest number in the world.

“The State of Texas will pause any further phases to open Texas as the state responds to the recent increase in positive Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations,” Governor Greg Abbott’s office announced in a statement.

“The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses. This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread,” Abbott said, asking residents to wear masks and respect social distancing guidelines.

The Texas Department of State Health Services reported a new record of 5,596 new coronavirus cases yesterday, a major jump from just 10 days ago, when the state had only 1,254 new cases in a day. 

There were 47 new coronavirus deaths in the state yesterday, still lower than some days in April and May.

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Abbott is an ally of Donald Trump, but his latest announcement was in stark contrast to the president, who has tried to signal that the virus crisis is largely over.

In fact, the CDC now estimates that the 2.4 million recorded US cases may represent only a tenth of the total number of people who have been infected at some point, according to estimates from nationally representative antibody surveys.

It “looks like it’s somewhere between five and eight percent of the American public” that has antibodies, said CDC director Robert Redfield, a range of between 16.5 and 26.4 million people.

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AFP

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