The United States may be at a crucial point in the coronavirus pandemic, with cases rising again and officials deciding whether to stay the course on reopening. At least 19 states have seen new cases go up in the last two weeks and six states on Tuesday reported record increases, CBS News’ Manuel Bojorquez reports.
Florida reported 2,783 new cases. Texas reported 2,622, and Arizona reported a one-day jump of 2,392 new cases. Oklahoma, Oregon and Nevada also reported their highest single-day spikes in cases yet.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis dismissed concerns Tuesday that reopenings are driving his state’s record-breaking run. He said spikes there are due to increased testing, particularly in high-risk areas like nursing homes and farming communities.
“You do now have widespread testing of asymptomatic people,” he said at a press conference Tuesday.
He acknowledged that community spread is happening, but the state’s reopening plan isn’t changing.
“The restaurants have been doing this for, what have they been doing it for – for six weeks? I mean, the idea that that all of a sudden is the reason, I’m not sure that that’s the case. So no, we’re not shutting down,” he said.
But bars in several cities have started closing on their own after workers and patrons tested positive for the virus, including Lynch’s pub in Jacksonville. Seven of its 49 employees tested positive. So did Erika Crisp and ten of her friends after going there for drinks.
“We’ve all been stuck indoors for months being careful. Social distancing. Doing everything the right way,” she said. “And then the first night we go out … Murphy’s Law, I guess.”
A similar phenomenon is happening as bars reopen in Texas, according to Governor Greg Abbott, who threatened to suspend liquor licenses for restaurants violating reopening rules.
“There are certain counties where a majority of the people who are testing positive in that county are under the age of 30 and this typically results from people going to bar-type settings,” said Abbott.
The mayors of nine Texas cities sent Abbott a letter urging him to grant them the authority to mandate face masks in public.
But there was some good news Tuesday: A potential breakthrough has emerged in the fight against the virus. Scientists in the United Kingdom said a cheap, decades-old steroid called dexamethasone reduced deaths in COVID-19 patients on oxygen by 20% and reduced death by 35% for patients on ventilators.
CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook called it “really good news.” He said that while the findings still need to be published and peer reviewed, the initial reports are promising.
“One of the nice things here is that there was a relatively large number of patients studied for several months,” he said. “And so the fact that they’re saying there was a statistically significant decrease in mortality with dexamethasone is very encouraging.”