This Is Exactly Why Coronavirus Cases Are Surging, Harvard Doctor Says

Two distinct factors are likely responsible for the huge spike in cases throughout the United States.

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Coronavirus cases are skyrocketing throughout the United States once again, with more than 44,000 new cases reported on June 27, surpassing the previous single-day record for new infections set in April. The nationwide resurgence of the outbreak has has hit several states particularly hard—for example, record numbers have been reported in both Texas and Florida, two states that public health experts say have "lost control" of the epidemic. So, what's behind the surging number of new infections? Doctors say that a lack of adequate testing and reopening certain states too early have created a perfect storm allowing for increased transmission rates.

"This is happening because, in much of the country, around Memorial Day and the weeks that followed, we opened up while we still had a large number of cases," Ashish Jha, MD, MPH, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, explained to TODAY.

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In comparison to the European Union, which has seen significant reductions in new coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, Jha said that many states' decision to reopen high-contact spaces that don't allow for social distancing, as well as relatively limited implementation of both coronavirus testing and contact tracing, have made things worse.

"We opened up bars, we opened up nightclubs—and it's the combination of all of that has led us to where we are today," said Jha.

While Jha noted the difficulty lockdowns have caused, both in terms of job losses and the effect spending months at home may have had on children, he said that the push for an early reopening may mean they were executed in vain.

"I'm very worried we wasted that time as a country as political leaders didn't do what needed to be done—and we're finding ourselves in a difficult situation again," he said.

bar closed during coronavirus
Shutterstock/JakeOwenPowell

Some states are already returning to previously lifted lockdown orders in response to recent outbreaks. Florida and Texas have both closed down bars, with Texas also scaling back indoor-dining from 75 percent to 50 percent capacity. While these measures may not seem effective enough to fully stem the spread, some medical professionals admit that, at this point, states have to do whatever they can to mitigate risk going forward without a full economic shutdown.

"There is no way to isolate a population, state, or country," explains physician Leann Poston, MD, a medical expert with Invigor Medical. "The actions of one population will affect another… the actions of one individual affect the fate of another in terms of catching this infection."

While the U.S. may be playing catch-up in terms of reducing new infections, Poston says that there's still a way individuals can do their part to keep themselves and others safe: "Avoid large crowds, wear masks, and practice social distancing." And if you want to know where else COVID-19 is on the rise, These 3 States Are Now in a "Critical" COVID-19 Situation, Researchers Say.

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