States with Major Outbreaks Should 'Look at Shutting Down' Says Fauci as New Daily Cases Top 62K

The U.S. hit a new record for positive coronavirus cases on Wednesday with more than 62,000 in one day

Dr. Anthony Fauci. Photo: AL DRAGO/Getty Images

States with soaring numbers of new COVID-19 cases should consider shutting down again, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said Wednesday as the U.S. hit the highest daily record of 62,751 new infections.

With most of the country seeing rising numbers of new COVID-19 cases and many states breaking their own records for new infections, the best solution may be to return to stay-at-home orders, he told the Wall Street Journal in a podcast interview, CNN reported.

“I think any state that is having a serious problem, that state should seriously look at shutting down,” Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said. “It’s not for me to say, because each state is different.”

The rise in new cases started after Memorial Day weekend, when states allowed businesses to reopen and Americans packed into bars and restaurants.

“We took the coincidental coming together of Memorial Day, warm weather and the fact that cases were coming down to mean, ‘okay, we're done, COVID is over with.’ And we saw what happened as soon as we took our foot off the brake,” Dr. Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist and Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told PEOPLE.

covid map
Martin Schwartz/PEOPLE

Since that weekend, cases and hospitalizations in several states — especially Texas, California, Arizona and Florida — soared.

In the last two days, Texas has hit its highest number of new cases with 10,028 on Tuesday and 9,979 on Wednesday, easily beating the previous record of 8,258, according to The Washington Post’s database. As of Monday, 8,700 people in the state are hospitalized with COVID-19 and doctors anticipate that they will soon run out of hospital beds.

That's already happening in Florida, where 56 intensive care units in the state are now full as of Tuesday. And an additional 35 hospital ICUs have 10 percent or fewer beds remaining. Florida saw 9,989 new cases on Wednesday, increasing the total to 223,783 since the start of the pandemic, and the state has the third-most cases in the country, after New York and California.

California, the most populous state in the country, was initially handing the COVID-19 pandemic well compared to New York. But after beaches, restaurants and bars reopened around Memorial Day, cases soared. On Wednesday, the state hit its highest daily total yet with 11,694 new infections, breaking the record they set two days prior of 11,529.

And in Arizona, new cases have started trending downwards, with 3,520 reported on Wednesday, below the record of 4,433 set on July 3. However, hospitals are nearly full, and the state had its lowest-ever number of available ICU beds on Tuesday, CNN reported. More than 1 in 4 people in Arizona are testing positive for the virus.

While the record-breaking numbers have come at a time when testing is more widely available, epidemiologists have said that these surges are more than just an increased number of test takers. In several states, the positivity rate is higher than before, meaning that even as more people get tested, more people are also testing positive for COVID-19. For example, in Arizona, the positivity rate is 26.8 percent; Florida’s is 19.1 percent and Texas is at 15.6 percent, according to Johns Hopkins.

As of Thursday morning, more than 3,071,600 Americans have tested positive for COVID-19 and at least 132,237people have died, according to The New York 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 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.

Related Articles