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US coronavirus: America broke its single-day record of new cases at least 9 times in a month

CNN logo CNN 7/19/2020 By Christina Maxouris, CNN
Healthcare workers push a patient into a less intensive unit from the Covid-19 Unit at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas on July 2, 2020. - Despite its renowned medical center with the largest agglomeration of hospitals and research laboratories in the world, Houston is on the verge of being overwhelmed by cases of coronavirus exploding in Texas. (Photo by Mark Felix / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Julia Benarrous: "Covid-19: Houston's hospital system underwater" (Photo by MARK FELIX/AFP via Getty Images) © Mark Felix/AFP/Getty Images Healthcare workers push a patient into a less intensive unit from the Covid-19 Unit at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas on July 2, 2020. - Despite its renowned medical center with the largest agglomeration of hospitals and research laboratories in the world, Houston is on the verge of being overwhelmed by cases of coronavirus exploding in Texas. (Photo by Mark Felix / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Julia Benarrous: "Covid-19: Houston's hospital system underwater" (Photo by MARK FELIX/AFP via Getty Images)

It's been a month of harrowing milestones set across the country, with the US beating its own daily record of total new coronavirus cases at least nine times.

On July 16, the country reported its latest single-day record with at least 77,255 new cases, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The second highest number was reported a day later: 71,558. Saturday's number: 63,698.

On June 16, with most states deep into their reopening plans, the country reported more than 23,700 cases of the virus. After what some saw as hopeful dips in cases, states across the South and other parts of the country warned of an increase in young people testing positive. Images emerged of crowded beaches and parties, despite experts cautioning Americans to stay home when possible.

In mid-June, Florida reported nearly 4,000 new cases in a day, a record single-day increase back then. The state has since grown to become the country's hotspot, reporting more than 10,300 new cases Saturday.

In the past few weeks, hospitals across the country have reached capacity. At least 27 US states have halted or rolled back their reopening plans to slow the spread of the virus. New estimates from US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say at least 40% of people who get the virus could show no symptoms, meaning thousands of Americans could be unknowingly still infecting others.

Now, officials point to gatherings and crowded bars as some of the major drivers of the surge. To prevent further spikes, parts of the country -- including Arizona, California and Texas -- have closed bars back down. Local leaders have begun pushing schools to remote instruction in the fall, after outcries from terrified parents and educators. Across the country, more mask requirements are going into effect, despite consistent backlash from some Americans. Face masks, experts have said, are the most powerful weapon against the virus.

With the surge in cases, models are projecting more than 150,000 American deaths will be linked to the virus by August 8, according to an ensemble forecast published by the CDC. The previous forecast published July 9 projected roughly 147,000 deaths by August 1.

At least 140,119 Americans have died of the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have now been more than 3.7 million cases in the country.

Coronavirus: You asked, we're answering

Florida Gov: no prosecution for those not wearing masks

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis has resisted implementing a statewide mask mandate and said Saturday the state would not be "prosecuting people" for not wearing masks.

When asked about the possibility of stricter face mask regulations throughout the state, DeSantis said face coverings have been advised since the state's first phase of reopening.

In the Miami area, which one expert called the epicenter of the virus last week, Miami-Dade Police will be giving citations for anyone violating the county's mask requirement.

The governor's remarks come a day after Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, urged governors and mayors to be "as forceful as possible" to get Americans to wear face coverings.

"When you're living your life and trying to open up the country, you are going to come into contact with people, and for that reason, we know that masks are really important, and we should be using them everywhere," he said.


Video: Doctor says what we saw in Wuhan we are seeing in Miami (CNN)

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Experts say Florida's numbers are trending in an alarming direction. In Miami-Dade County, intensive care units are at about 122% capacity, according to county data. In the past two weeks, the county has seen a 40% increase in the number of coronavirus patients being hospitalized and about a 64% increase in the use of ventilators, according to the data.

"It's really a crisis moment at (Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital)," Martha Baker, the president of a union representing health care professionals, told CNN affiliate WFOR. "We're just, I say dancing on the head of a pin, hoping we can keep dancing."

"Fifteen nurses in the ICUs alone called in sick today, just at Jackson Main," she told the affiliate. "They're exhausted. They've been doing this since March."

Track the virus

Texas reports more than 10,000 cases for fifth day

In Texas, similar calls for help came from healthcare professionals as cases continue to climb across the state.

"At any given time if 1.5% of the population had Covid disease, that would fill every single adult hospital bed in the city, leaving no room for heart attacks and strokes and pregnant women who are having their babies and car accidents and everything else that continues to go on," said Dr. David Persse, with the Houston Health Department, according to CNN affiliate KPRC.

Harris County, where Houston is located, has reported more than 54,800 cases of the virus.

For the fifth day in a row, Texas reported more than 10,000 new cases in a day, according to state data. The 10,158 new cases reported Saturday bring the state's case tally to at least 317,730.

Gov. Greg Abbott, who once pushed for one of the most aggressive reopenings, has in recent weeks advocated for the use of face masks to help businesses stay open.

Earlier this month, he issued an executive order requiring residents in counties with 20 or more active cases to wear face coverings in public. That order took effect July 3.

These are the states requiring face masks

How long should you isolate for?

Meanwhile, the CDC updated its guidance for people who are isolating at home to prevent transmission of the coronavirus.

Someone who has tested positive for the virus and has symptoms may discontinue isolation 10 days after the symptoms first appeared as long as 24 hours have passed since the last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and if symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath have improved.

People with coronavirus symptoms isolating at home and with access to tests can leave isolation if a fever has passed without the use of medication, if there is an improvement in symptoms, and if tests taken more than 24 hours apart come back negative, according to the guidelines.

For those who have tested positive but have no symptoms, the CDC had two options: a time-based strategy and a test-based strategy.

A person without symptoms can discontinue isolation 10 days after the first positive test and if they have not subsequently developed symptoms. If a person develops symptoms, then the symptom-based or test-based strategy should be used, according to the guidelines.

People who have tested positive for the virus and are asymptomatic can also discontinue isolation if the results of two tests taken more than 24 hours apart come back negative.

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