These States Have Started to "Turn the Tide" on COVID, CDC Director Says
CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, offered some rare encouraging news on the South's war on coronavirus.
We've spent the whole summer reading alarming report after alarming report about surging coronavirus numbers. But as you may have heard recently, things may have begun to take a turn for the better with the pandemic. Last week, Admiral Brett Giroir, MD, the country's COVID testing czar, said "trends are going in the right direction," and Robert Redfield, MD, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), also offered a rare encouraging update recently. In an online chat with the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) on Aug. 20, he noted that many of the states in the South with coronavirus spikes this summer have started to "turn the tide."
"We are beginning to turn the tide in what I call the southern outbreak in the nation," Redfield said. "I've seen pretty strong data that the mitigation steps that we've advocated, something as simple as a face mask, social distancing, washing your hands, closing bars, and having limited indoor dining at restaurants… you really see that we can get control of this pandemic." Though he didn't namecheck all of the specific Southern states that have seen numbers decline, the following are four states that have earned the lion's share of coverage due to their summer spikes in daily cases. But now, they appear to have turned a crucial corner. And for more on states that could soon be struggling, check out These 5 States Could Be the Next COVID Hotspots, Researchers Say.
In his JAMA interview, Redfield specifically cited Arizona for following CDC mitigation guidelines as evidence of how successful those can be. "If you see how Arizona, for example, put that in play and literally, you saw about two to four weeks later, you really see that we can get control of this pandemic. We don't have to close retail. We don't have to lock down. We really just need to wear face garments when we can't social distance, wash our hands, and be smart about crowds," he said. "We can get this outbreak under control. And we're now starting to see that take effect, I think, more broadly across the South."
According to The New York Times, Arizona saw the highest spike in daily COVID-19 cases on Jun. 30 at nearly 4,800 infections. But by closing bars statewide and after major cities mandated mask wearing, the number of daily cases was down to 208 on Aug. 23. And for more on Arizona's recent success story, check out Dr. Fauci Says This Is Why Coronavirus Cases Are Dropping in Arizona.
The Sunshine State was among the first states to reopen in the spring. As a result, Florida also received a fair amount of attention when its daily COVID cases spiked at a whopping 15,300 infections on Jul. 13, according to The New York Times. Over the past six weeks, however, daily cases have dropped dramatically. On Aug. 23, for example, Florida reported 3,000 new COVID cases. To be sure, that is still a lot of daily infections, but it's also 20 percent of its previous record high. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.
California was the very first state to lockdown its local economy on March 19, which successfully managed its initial COVID outbreak. But the Golden State later struggled in July, peaking at over 12,100 daily infections on Jul. 22, according to The New York Times. As of Aug. 23, the number of daily infections has fallen significantly to just over 4,600 cases. And to learn what was behind the state's surge, check out This Is What Fueled California's Deadly COVID Outbreak, New Study Says.
No other state may have a more mercurial relationship with COVID-19 infections than the Lone Star State. Gov. Greg Abbott was initially resolute in his call to reopen many local businesses across the state of Texas, but as he saw a sharp spike in infections early in the summer, he reversed that decision and called for bars to shut down. He also eventually mandated masks for Texans in areas above a certain COVID count. According to The New York Times, daily infections in Texas peaked at over 15,000 on Jul. 12, but mitigation efforts seem to have slowed cases a bit. On Aug. 23, the state registered its lowest total since Jun. 15 of just under 3,000 cases. For more on issues Texas faced, check out This Is Why Texas Has "Gone From Bad to Worse."