Arizona, Florida, Texas: What is Causing Rise of COVID-19 Cases?

Arizona, Florida, and Texas are setting records for the most new COVID-19 cases recorded in one day. In Texas, 4,098 cases were reported yesterday, Tuesday, June 16, 2020, while in Florida there were 2,783 new cases and 2,392 in Arizona.

What is causing this sudden spike in the number of new coronavirus cases in the Southern United States?

If you listen to the Governors of those States, they will first say it is due to increased testing – more tests, more new cases. But if you listen to public health experts, they are saying it is due to more transmission happening within the communities.

What the Experts are Saying

Said former Food & Drug Administration Commission, Scott Gottlieb, on CNBC’s Squawk Box, “Part of it is increased testing, but the positivity rate is going up. Addressing Texas specifically, he said: “This is an outbreak that’s underway. It’s expanding. They’re at risk of tipping over.”

Referring to Arizona and Florida, Gottleib said their positivity rates are already increasing: “These are outbreaks that are underway. They’re worrisome, because they’re happening in the summer.”

When the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak began, people were told that there were 3 things the virus did not like: vitamin C, moisture, and heat. It was anticipated that the virus would die down in the summer with the warming temperatures. However, Arizona, Florida, and Texas are warm states to begin with, and summer has officially started, so what does this mean?

Could it be that the virus just keeps evolving faster than we can come up with a way to control it, as in the form of a vaccine? It has been reported that the virus has mutated at least 13 times since it made it’s first appearance under the microscopic lens.

What the Governors are Saying

In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott (R) was asked by state Mayors to lift an executive order that bans localities from fining citizens who don’t wear masks in public, citing an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Although Governor Abbott urged people to stay home he also told them not to be alarmed about the rise in cases. He said the spike in cases was due to batch testing data coming in from “congregate settings” such as prisons and nursing homes. About 43 percent of the 2,098 cases reported Tuesday were among inmates at state prisons. The second-highest single-day increase in cases was reported by the state last week at 2,500.

Like the Governor of Texas, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) also attributed the increase in cases to more testing. “We are not shutting down. We are going to go forward, and we are going to continue to protect the most vulnerable,” he said.

Hospitalizations Rise

Hospitalizations are on the rise as these positive tests are skyrocketing. Arizona and Texas reported record highs with Arizona reaching 1,582 yesterday and Texas reaching 2,518. Numbers for Florida hospitalizations are not known as they do not make that public data.

Increasing hospitalizations is also a sign of a growing outbreak, and Arizona and Texas both reported record highs this week.

The root of the spike

Experts are of the belief that these spiking outbreaks are because of the early lifting of lockdown orders and restrictions on businesses last month in addition to a lack of social distancing and mask wearing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a report this week stating that while average daily reported cases and deaths are declining, there are still signs of ongoing community transmission across America.

Tom Frieden, former CDC Director who served during the Obama administration, said the percentage of positive tests is increasing which points to the spread of the coronavirus for at least a week’s time. He explained that not only Arizona, Florida, and Texas are witnessing a rise in cases, but also Alaska, North Carolina, and South Carolina. The number of hospitalizations in Texas rose around 8 percent during the past couple of weeks, he said.

Said Frieden: “This is not the kind of trend you want to see. This is NOT from more testing, it’s from more spread.”