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US daily COVID-19 cases drop below 50k for first time in six weeks

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The daily average for new coronavirus cases in the United States has dropped to below 50,000 for the first time in six weeks. 

COVID-19 cases across the country were averaging at 48,700 on Tuesday, which is the lowest daily toll since the first week of July when cases were surging in Sunbelt hotspot states.  

The current daily case average is down considerably from the record high of 77,000 cases reported on a single day in mid-July.

Coronavirus infections in the US, which have now topped more than 5.48 million, have been declining for four straight weeks after spiking throughout June and July. 

Meanwhile, deaths appear to be plateauing nationally. 

The average number of deaths has remained steady at just over 1,000 per day for almost three weeks.  

More than 171,000 Americans have died from COVID-19.

The daily average for new coronavirus cases in the United States has dropped to below 50,000 for the first time in six weeks. The current daily average is down considerably from the record high of 77,000 cases reported on a single day in mid-July. Infections have been declining for four straight weeks after spiking throughout June and July

Deaths, which appear to be plateauing nationally, have remained steady at just over 1,000 per day on average for almost three weeks.  More than 171,000 Americans have died from COVID-19

While still high, the daily death rate remains below the levels seen in April when an average of 2,000 people a day – mostly in the original epicenter of New York – were dying from the virus. 

Deaths are a lagging indicator and can potentially rise several weeks after new cases start to decline. 

The month-long national decline in cases is due mainly to a significant drop off in the hotspot states of California, Arizona, Florida and Texas after infections peaked there in mid-July.

Cases and deaths have been on a downward trajectory in Arizona for several weeks. Arizona officials reported zero deaths on Monday, marking the first time in three weeks that the state hasn’t reported a death from the virus. Totals released on Mondays typically have a lower number of deaths, when compared to other days, because of a lag in weekend reporting. 

COVID-19-related hospitalizations in Arizona peaked about a month ago following Gov. Doug Ducey’s lifting of stay-home orders in May. With Arizona then becoming a national hotspot, Ducey in late June re-imposed some restrictions and allowed local governments to impose masking requirements.   

Florida’s cases have been declining since mid-July but deaths are yet to follow after recording a single-day high of 277 deaths this time last week. 

Infections in California surged last week partly due to a backlog of tests caused by technical glitches that the state says it has now cleared. Deaths in the most populous state appear to be plateauing following a spike last month. 

In Texas, there has been a slight uptick in cases in the last week and deaths appear to be plateauing.    

In Texas, there has been a slight uptick in cases in the last week and deaths appear to be plateauing

Florida’s cases have been declining since mid-July but deaths are yet to follow after recording a single-day high of 277 deaths this time last week

Infections in California surged last week partly due to a backlog of tests caused by technical glitches that the state says it has now cleared. Deaths in the most populous state appear to be plateauing following a spike last month

Cases and deaths have been on a downward trajectory in Arizona for several weeks. Arizona officials reported zero deaths on Monday, marking the first time in three weeks that the state hasn’t reported a death from the virus

While cases are still declining nationally, there has been a recent uptick in infections in a handful of states including Hawaii, South Dakota, Kansas, Illinois, Maine, Vermont and Delaware. 

The increases seen in these states are minimal compared to the outbreaks that plagued the hotspot states at the beginning of summer and are not enough to reflect an uptick in the national infection toll. 

In South Dakota, new cases have been increasing for a month now. The state’s annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally drew more than 460,000 vehicles during the 10-day event last week. 

Photos from the event showed a few people wearing masks and social distancing but many others packed close together at bars and rock shows throughout the event. 

The South Dakota Department of Health issued a warning on Tuesday that one person who spent several hours at a main street bar in Sturgis had since tested positive for COVID-19 and may have spread it to others. 

With people traveling to the rally from all over the country, the mass gathering has raised concerns it could become an epicenter of infections that are hard to track as rallygoers head home.  

Hawaii, which had kept the virus at bay for most of the summer, has seen new cases spike considerably this month.   

Governor David Ige said on Tuesday he was extending statewide travel restrictions that require vistors to quarantine for 14 days in a bid to curb the spread. While initially due to be listed on September 1, Gov Ige has extended the restrictions until at least October as infections in the state surge.   

Hawaii, which had kept the virus at bay for most of the summer, has seen new cases spike considerably this month. Governor David Ige said on Tuesday he was extending statewide travel restrictions that require vistors to quarantine for 14 days in a bid to curb the spread

In South Dakota, new cases have been increasing for a month now. The state’s annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally drew more than 460,000 vehicles during the 10-day event last week. South Dakota’s health department issued a warning on Tuesday that one person who spent several hours at a main street bar in Sturgis had since tested positive for COVID-19

In South Dakota, new cases have been increasing for a month now. The state’s annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally drew more than 460,000 vehicles during the 10-day event last week. Photos from the event showed some people packed close together at bars and rock shows

The South Dakota Department of Health issued a warning on Tuesday that one person who spent several hours at a main street bar in Sturgis during the 10-day event had since tested positive for COVID-19 and may have spread it to others

Health experts have attributed the current national decline in cases to policy and behavior changes in the hotspot states behind the summer surge, like Arizona, where governors and local officials rolled back reopenings to curb the infection rate.

They say the widespread adoption of masks, social distancing and closing down bars all helped with bringing down the infection rates.   

It comes as White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr Deborah Birx said this week that she wished Americans had been forced into a total lockdown in the same way that Italy was early in the pandemic. 

Italy imposed a nationwide quarantine on March 9 and restrictions were not loosened until the middle of April. Phase two of reopening for the country only began in May. 

‘When Italy locked down, I mean, people weren’t allowed out of their houses,’ Birx said.

‘They couldn’t come out but once every two weeks to buy groceries for one hour and they had to have a certificate that said they were allowed. 

‘Americans don’t react well to that kind of prohibition.’ 

Infections in Illinois have been increasing since late June. Deaths have remained low but have been plateauing for the past month

There has been an uptick of cases in Kansas for more than two straight weeks. The state reported a near record high of more than 1,200 new cases on Monday, bringing its total to over 35,000

There has been a spike in infections in Delaware in the last week with the state reporting a single-day high 373 new cases on August 14. Deaths across the state remain low

There has been an uptick of infections in Maine this month but hospitalizations and deaths appear to be declining

Cases have been rising in the Northeastern state of Vermont throughout August. The state’s COVID-19 total  is just over 1,500

While the CDC and White House issued nationwide guidance, individual states were responsible for putting lockdowns or restrictions in place. 

Birx said Americans now need to be met with restrictions that they can live with, while also instituting personal behavioral changes, to help curb the spread of the virus. 

She used Arizona as an example, saying the state had closed gyms and bars and banned groups of more than 10 people from gathering together after becoming a hotspot state.

Arizona residents were still allowed to go to malls and restaurants provided capacities were limited, Birx noted. 

‘People were interacting, people were out, but people, by just not doing those careful things, were able to drop the cases significantly, probably by more than 80 percent,’ she said.   

Birx said that Americans needed to continue to limit their interaction with others and also wear face masks.   

‘Tens of thousands of lives can be saved if we wear masks,’ she said.

‘Somehow we always believe our family is safe and our friends are safe. You cannot tell who’s infected with the virus. You need to keep your mask on.’   

Coronavirus cases in the United States have now dropped steadily for the fourth straight week. Cases have been rising North and South Dakota, Hawaii, Kansas and Vermont for more than two straight weeks. In the last week, 14 states – including California, Maine and Vermont – saw an uptick in cases of more than 10 percent compared to the previous seven days. The majority of Sunbelt states that saw large spikes in June and July have seen a decrease in the last week

Deaths have been increasing for more than two straight weeks in North Dakota, Hawaii, Minnesota, Michigan, Georgia and Washington DC. In the last week alone, Wyoming, Colorado, Pennsylvania, North Dakota and New Hampshire saw the largest increases. The majority of Sunbelt states, which is where deaths had been increasing, have been mostly steady in the last week

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