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The U.S. epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic has shifted to the South and West, where cases have ballooned to record highs. At least 14 states are now pausing their reopening plans or moving back toward lockdown, and the national death toll from the disease has topped 127,000. Still, the majority of states are continuing to lift their restrictions on movement and activities. Amna Nawaz reports.
The U.S. death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic has now topped 127,000 people.
The epicenter has shifted to the West and South, where cases have ballooned to record highs.
Amna Nawaz has our report.
California's COVID response was once called a miracle, for quickly stemming virus spread. But the state today took steps to move back into lockdown after new cases spiked almost 80 percent in the last two weeks.
Gov. Gavin Newsom:
The bottom line is, the spread of this virus continues at a rate that is particularly concerning. Fourth of July weekend has raised a lot of concern from our health officials. We want to again remind each and every one of you that, if we want to be independent from COVID-19, we have to be much more vigilant.
California is not alone. A majority of states in the country are now reporting surges in infections. Yesterday, the U.S. recorded more than 47,000 new cases, the nation's highest single-day spike in the pandemic so far.
To slow virus spread, at least 14 states are now moving to pause or reverse plans to reopen their economies. But the majority of states are still moving ahead on lifting restrictions, despite the rise in infections.
Currently, only 17 states and the District of Columbia have issued mask mandates.
And Texas is not one of them. In fact, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said in a FOX News interview last night that he doesn't need any advice from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick:
Fauci said today that he's concerned about states like Texas that skipped over certain things. He doesn't know what he's talking about.
Texas had one of the shortest stay-at-home orders in the nation and is now reversing reopening steps after a record number of new infections.
Hospitals here, already stretched, are bracing for the weeks ahead.
The hospitals right now are operating with nearly 100 percent of intensive care unit beds occupied at several hospitals.
If the community doesn't start behaving differently, there's going to be a limit to what the hospitals will handle. It's not today. That's three weeks from now.
In Phoenix today, Vice President Mike Pence met with Governor Doug Ducey, as Arizona struggles to contain its spike in cases and puts a pause on reopening.
Vice President Mike Pence:
I know we will get through this. I'm absolutely confident that, with your leadership, with the full support of the federal government behind you, the cooperation of the people of Arizona, that we will slow the spread and we will flatten the curve.
Meanwhile, in Washington, the Senate last night and the House today approved a five-week extension on the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses struggling to stay open, with the stops and starts of state plans.
Business owners like John Nguyen are left struggling to keep up with shifting plans, like Texas' recent reversal.
That definitely added a lot of complexity and stress to small business owners like me. We were hoping it would turn around by May. But now that everything is going in the wrong direction, it doesn't look like we're going to be over this any time soon.
Plans on hold across the country, as states scramble to stifle another swell of COVID-19 infections.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Amna Nawaz.
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Amna Nawaz joined PBS NewsHour in April 2018 and serves as the program's chief correspondent and primary substitute anchor.
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