It seems like every day we see an increasing number of new coronavirus cases recorded in different states around the country. Several states have witnessed spikes in such a way that medical experts have concluded that a return to lockdown may be the only realistic option to turn things around. And, according to one author, this is more and more like the only alternative in places like Florida, Arizona, and Texas— all of which have frequently reported record highs in new cases and hospitalizations since re-opening.
“They’re having major outbreaks underway. There’s no question about it,” former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, told CNBC on June 22. “They might be past the point that they can control this just with simple interventions like trying to get more people to wear masks and people being mindful of their social interactions.”
Gottlieb added that due to increased testing, the next few days will show just how significant the growing rate of new cases is in each of these states. “I think this week’s going to really be a pivotal week for us to get a picture of where things are heading in states like Florida and Arizona and Texas, whether or not they’re tipping over into exponential growth or not,” he said.
Read on to learn more about the three states that need to take action now.
According to the Houston Chronicle, in addition to announcing more than 3,800 new cases on June 21, Texas health officials announced that COVID-19 hospitalizations reached record highs over the weekend. In some urban areas, such as Houston, where new cases are increasing at a particularly rapid pace, local authorities have implemented mask mandates to help control the spread.
However, at least one expert agrees with Gottlieb that the move might be too little too late. Based on current state patterns, vaccine researcher Peter Hotez, MD, PhD, professor, and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told the Chronicle that the mask is likely to be “not quite enough.”
Although Florida officials initially pointed to increased testing as the key cause of new incidents, it seems like they are becoming less optimistic in that being really the case. Florida confirmed an additional 2,926 new positive cases on June 21, and while this is a small decrease from previous days, CNBC reported that Gov. Ron DeSantis recently confirmed that the portion of people tested positive is accelerating faster than the number of tests being run.
The number of people tested positive for the virus in Florida increased from about 4.2 percent on June 7 to more than 8 percent on June 14, according to the Florida Department of Health.
In Arizona, the test positivity rate showed a similar increase to the one seen in Florida. More than 2,000 new cases per day have also been reported in the Southwest State for about a week— including 2,196 new cases reported by the Arizona Public Health Department on June 22.
According to Gottlieb, the main statistic to watch in the coming days in Arizona, as well as every other state where cases are on increasing, is the doubling rate — essentially, how long it takes for the number of new cases to double in quantity.