U.S. coronavirus infection rate now highest since pandemic began
In this May 14, 2020, file photo, Jerry A. Mann, center, is held by his grandmother, Sylvia Rubio, as he is tested for COVID-19 at a site in San Antonio. Public health officials have said robust testing for the coronavirus is essential to safely lifting stay-at-home orders and business closures, but the Trump administration is ending federal support for testing centers. | Eric Gay / AP

More than 45,500 new coronavirus infections were reported in the U.S. overnight, not by the federal government but by state health departments—blowing out of the water by some 11,000 the previous one-day record of 34,203 reached on April 25.

The soaring infection rate in the U.S. is being driven by out-of-control outbreaks in the nation’s three most populous states, California, Texas, and Florida, and in other states across the South and West.

The three population centers led the way in the latest resurgence of the virus, with all reporting more than 5,000 new cases each.

Hospitalization rates in Arizona are now higher than at any time in the pandemic. The state reports that ICU beds and regular beds are almost full. In Texas, a state whose governor, like Trump, was blaming the increase in cases on testing up until last week has now done an about face and ordered that hospitals stop providing elective procedures because of the shortage of beds.

As news of the rising numbers spread throughout the nation and around the world, the Trump administration doubled down on its ostrich-like head-in-the-sand approach to fighting the disease by announcing it was ending the federal funding that supports 13 testing sites, including locations in Texas, one of the hardest hit states.

Since the start of the pandemic, COVID-19 has killed more than 124,000 people in the U.S., according to available records. It has sickened more than 2.4 million people. Both those figures, health experts are warning, are far lower than the actual numbers.

Also alarming are statements coming from the World Health Organization which say that the pandemic is again spinning out of control in places around the globe. The United States, which is normally a major player in battling pandemics worldwide, has, under orders from Trump, slashed funding for the WHO.

There were signs yesterday and this morning that the resurgence of outbreaks in the U.S. are having a dampening effect on the party that has been ongoing on Wall Street. The Dow Jones fell 2.7% yesterday as investors were stunned by the tsunami in COVID-19 infections, causing them to fear that any kind of economic recovery will be delayed even more than it has already.

New jobless figures issued today have pushed the number of people losing jobs in the last few weeks to more than 47 million, with many economists estimating an actual jobless total well over 50 million—more than double those pushed out of work during the Great Depression.

Adding to the total lack of expectation now that the Trump administration will do anything to alleviate the suffering and death faced by the American people, Vice President Mike Pence, the head of the coronavirus taskforce, is advising Republican senators to only “emphasize the positive.”

Some of the states left on their own to deal with the crisis have governors attempting, at least, to do something. The governors of the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut tri-state area jointly announced a travel advisory that mandates a 14-day quarantine for visitors from nine states whose infection rates meet certain thresholds indicating “significant community spread,” according to New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D).

The International Monetary Fund announced yesterday that the global economy will shrink by 4.9% this year and followed only by a very sluggish recovery. The U.S. economy is already shrinking faster than that, having already declined by 5% this quarter.

One state, Virginia, became yesterday the first in the nation to impose new rules on corporations that have their workers on site in offices and plants. Companies will be penalized if they fail to institute a list of required safety measures, the state government said.

As of now, there are no federal guidelines whatsoever on what companies that reopen should do to protect workers.

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CONTRIBUTOR

John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and '80s he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.

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