Public officials in the west and south of the US have stepped up their warnings about coronavirus in the wake of states in those regions reporting record one-day increases in new Covid-19 cases over the weekend. Florida and Texas on Saturday, and California on Sunday, each reported record one day increases in excess of 4,000 new cases, while states including Georgia, South Carolina and Oklahoma – where President Donald Trump held a rally on Saturday – were among others to report record daily increases over the weekend.
In total, 27,465 people in the US tested positive for coronavirus on Sunday, according to the Covid Tracking Project. That is down from 32,325 on Saturday, which was the biggest one-day increase since early May. Typically, weekend figures, as well as those on Monday, tend to be lower than on other days owing to a slowdown in testing. Around half of all new daily cases in the US are coming from cases in the Deep South, some of which were among the earliest to reopen their economies. The south’s share of national cases has been steadily rising, in part because states in the north-east – such as New York and New Jersey, which were early hotspots for the virus – have brought the spread of the virus under control.
Increased testing across the US has also contributed to more cases of coronavirus being revealed, but there are differing views among elected officials as to whether that is simply the reason. Ron DeSantis, Florida’s Republican governor, acknowledged during a press briefing on Saturday that the rising number of new Covid-19 cases in his state was not simply a byproduct of an increase in testing. “Even with the testing increasing or being flat, the number of people testing positive is accelerating faster than that,” he said.
Later that day, Mr. Trump told his rally in Tulsa that he had asked officials to slow the number of coronavirus tests because “when you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more cases”. The president has since said of Saturday’s remarks that he was kidding but has regularly pointed to the ramp-up in tests in the US as a measure of his efforts to combat the pandemic.
California is testing more than 70,000 people a day and Texas on Sunday tested a record 62,782, while states that have recently reported an increase in new cases like Arizona, Alabama, and North and South Carolina are also conducting record numbers of tests. Some states, including Georgia and Florida, have average testing rates that are below peak levels despite their record one-day increases in new cases.