These States Have "Lost Control of the Epidemic," Experts Say
Two states are seeing coronavirus cases skyrocket—and experts worry the spread is out of control.
Coronavirus cases are once again on the rise in various parts of the United States, prompting public health officials to announce that two states have now “lost control of the epidemic.” According to a June 24 report from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia PolicyLab, Arizona and Texas are two states in particularly dangerous situations with COVID-19. "It is fair to say that the state of Arizona has lost control of the epidemic. So too has Texas," the medical experts warn.
Maricopa County, Arizona—which includes Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, and Mesa—is seeing 2,000 new coronavirus cases a day. Based on PolicyLab’s current forecast, new daily coronavirus cases could surpass the 25,000 mark following July 4th weekend if the area continues at its current pace.
The most recent infection numbers are a staggering change since spring, when Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey implemented a stay-at-home order that remained in effect through May 15. As of May 1, Maricopa County reported 4,126 total confirmed coronavirus cases and 152 deaths; as of June 25, the county is reporting 36,890 confirmed cases of coronavirus. In total, the state has had 63,030 confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,490 coronavirus deaths thus far.
Among the major criticisms of Arizona’s public health policies is its early lifting of restrictions on high-contact spaces and activities. On May 12, Ducey announced that pools, gyms, and major league sports would reopen throughout the state along with the lifting of the stay-at-home order. “This is a green light to continue going forward on the way out of this pandemic. Now, this is not a green light to speed. This is a green light to proceed with caution," Ducey said in a press conference at the time.
While the state has encouraged mask wearing among its residents since beginning to reopen, it wasn’t until June 19 that face masks were officially mandated for use in Maricopa County. “It was just ‘open it up’ and then more or less business as usual,” Peter Hotez, MD, PhD, of Baylor College of Medicine, told Kaiser Health News of the rising number of coronavirus cases in Arizona. He added that major cities in Texas, including Houston, are in a similar situation.
According to PolicyLab's report, the Houston area has exceeded 1,600 new daily infections; Harris County, where Houston is located, has the highest number of infections in the state at 25,786, or close to 20 percent of the state’s total cases thus far. The Texas Department of State Health Services reports that 131,917 total coronavirus cases have been reported in the state, with 2,296 total coronavirus deaths. Throughout Texas, the past two weeks have seen significant rises in coronavirus numbers—the state had set record hospitalization numbers for 12 straight days as of June 23, when 4,092 new hospitalizations were reported.
While Texas has no statewide mask requirements, on June 25, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that he would halt further statewide reopening, citing the “unacceptable rate” at which coronavirus has been spreading.
On June 26, Abbott issued an executive order once again closing the state's bars and requiring restaurants to operate at 50 percent capacity. "I know that our collective action can lead to a reduction in the spread of COVID-19 because we have done it before, and we will do it again," said Abbott. And for more insight into where coronavirus is on the rise, check out these 9 States Where Coronavirus Cases Are Doubling Every Three Weeks.