New York started getting back to the “new normal’ on Monday as the city eased the lockdown with stores and cafes reopening.
But even as New Yorkers, confined for weeks at the epicenter of the global pandemic, returned to some semblance of normalcy, alarming spikes in coronavirus infection rates elsewhere around the country worried public health experts.
Chief among the latest hotspots was Florida, one of the last states to impose stay-at-home restrictions and one of the first to begin lifting them, with nearly 3,000 new infections reported over the previous 24 hours. Arizona, meanwhile, had almost 2,200 additional cases since Sunday.
The two are prime examples of a troubling trend, mostly in the South and West, where the percentage of positive test results among all people who are screened — a metric called the positivity rate — has climbed.
“Wherever people mix, wherever people have person-to-person contact, there will be spread of the virus,” Toner told Reuters. “The question is not whether it will spread – that’s a certainty. The question is how big that increase will be, and that’s largely a function of what government and individuals do.”
The World Health Organisation considers positive rates above 5% to be especially concerning, and widely watched data from Johns Hopkins University shows a dozen states with average rates over the past week exceeding that level and rising.