6 States Set Records for New Coronavirus Cases as Arizona Reaches Highest Death Toll Yet

Alaska, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Utah all reported their highest numbers of new daily infections over the weekend

covid increase map
Photo: Martin Schwartz/PEOPLE

Six states set records for their most new coronavirus cases in one day over the weekend, as deaths from COVID-19 continue to rise in almost every part of the U.S.

Alaska, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Utah all reported their highest numbers of new daily infections on July 18 or 19. In total, the U.S. recorded 124,596 new infections over the weekend, the highest of any weekend this year, according to The New York Times' database.

The largest increase occurred in Louisiana, where new cases hit a record high of 3,116 on July 19, up from the record set in early April of 2,728. South Carolina also saw a record 2,374 new infections on Sunday, as did Kentucky and Alaska, with 850 and 118 cases, respectively.

Utah had 858 new cases on Saturday, breaking their previous record set on July 10 of 820. And in North Carolina, new infections hit 2,437 that day, surpassing the record of 2,266 set on July 11.

Over the last 14 days, new deaths from COVID-19 have been on the rise in 25 states, from California on the West Coast, to Alabama in the South, North Carolina on the East Coast and South Dakota in the Midwest.

Arizona saw a record 136 new deaths from COVID-19 on July 18, far surpassing their previous record of 101 set just three days prior.

Florida had also repeatedly broken its record for daily deaths, with the highest, 156, occurring on July 16. The COVID-19 death toll in Florida is at least 5,071 as of Monday morning.

The national death rate is now trending upwards for the first time since April, when New York was dealing with overloaded hospitals. Nationally, an estimated 63 percent of hospital beds are currently occupied, according to the Centers for Disease Control, while several states are dealing with major shortages.

In Arizona, 90 percent of intensive care unit beds are currently in use, according to their Department of Health. In Texas, officials will not publicly share hospital capacity data, but Houston hospitals have resorted to treating COVID-19 patients in emergency rooms instead of the intensive care unit due to lack of space, ProPublica reported.

On July 6, President Donald Trump incorrectly asserted that the U.S. death rate was the lowest in the world. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said Tuesday that it is a “false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death,” CNN reported.

According to health experts, as the case numbers soar, it is only a matter of time before the death rate increases as well. Dr. Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist and Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told PEOPLE on July 2 that the U.S. has gotten better at treating COVID-19, which should keep deaths lower, but that he still expects them to rise in the coming weeks.

“We have gotten better at treating patients and that's important. How much that has contributed is unclear, but in some cases, 70 to 80 percent of the people on a ventilator were dying early in the pandemic. Today, in many locations, that number is less than 20 or 30 percent,” Osterholm said. “We also now have younger people who are getting infected, and they pose a much lower risk of having serious illness or dying. So while the number of cases goes up, the number of people dying has gone down.”

“But,” he continued, “as more cases occur, the greater the likelihood is that older people will get infected, which then will again increase the number of deaths. So the number of deaths could rise substantially over the next two to three months.”

As of Monday morning, there have been 3,318,300 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., and at least 134,976 people have died, according to the Times.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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