NEW YORK (Reuters) – Wisconsin, where U.S. President Donald Trump will hold rallies over the weekend, saw a record increase in new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, while New York state reported a worrying increase in positive coronavirus tests in 20 hot spots ”.
The 3,000 new infections reported in Wisconsin have fueled fears that the large number of new patients will overwhelm hospitals. Florida, which has four times as many people as Wisconsin, reported 2,628 new cases on Thursday.
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers issued an emergency order relaxing licensing rules in a bid to bolster the number of healthcare workers able to cope with the growing crisis.
“Our emergency department has had several cases over the past week where its capacity was exceeded and needed to place patients in beds in the hallways,” said Bellin Health, which operates a hospital in Green Bay, in the Wisconsin, in a statement. His intensive care unit has been full, or nearly full, for a week, he said.
Dr Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, said the state’s outbreak started in young people and has now spread through the community.
“Public gatherings of any kind are dangerous right now, more than they have been at any time during this epidemic,” he told CNN on Thursday.
Signs that the pandemic is worsening in the Upper Midwest abound. Wisconsin and North Dakota both reported a record number of hospital patients with COVID-19 on Thursday, while South Dakota also reported a record number of new cases.
New cases of COVID-19 increased in 27 of 50 U.S. states in September compared to August, with a 111% increase in Wisconsin, according to a Reuters analysis.
In New York City, which struggled with the world’s most endemic outbreak earlier this year, officials expressed concern about clusters of cases in 20 areas of the state, where the average rate of positive tests is rose to 6.5% against 5.5% the day before. .
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy have encouraged residents to download a new voluntary contact tracing app to their smartphones that launched Thursday. The app, COVID Alert, uses Bluetooth technology to tell users if they’ve recently been around someone who then tested positive for the coronavirus.
Many of New York’s 20 hotspots – half of which are in New York City – include Orthodox Jewish communities. Cuomo said he spoke to community leaders about the application of social distancing measures.
“A cluster today can become an extended community tomorrow,” Cuomo said on a conference call with reporters. “These postal codes are not hermetically sealed. “
He implored local authorities to strengthen enforcement measures. “If they don’t wear masks, they should be fined,” Cuomo said.
Wisconsin health officials are urging residents to stay home and avoid large gatherings ahead of Trump weekend rallies in Janesville and Green Bay ahead of the Nov. 3 election.
A Trump indoor rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in June, likely contributed to a subsequent spike in the number of cases, city health officials said.
Beyond the Midwest, western states are also facing spikes in coronavirus cases. Montana on Thursday reported a record increase in cases for the second day in a row and a record number of hospital patients for COVID-19.