The United States is approaching 5 million cases of coronavirus – and as experts have pointed out before, the true number of infections may be many times higher.
The number means that the country owns about a quarter of the global cases of the virus, and also tops the list of the most reported deaths in the world. More than 162,000 Americans have died.
The pandemic shows no signs of slowing down, and health officials are calling for the use of face masks in public and urging residents to avoid social gatherings until the spread is under control.
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As of this week, five states are causing more than 40% of infections in the United States: California (with the most cases in the country), Florida, Texas, New York and Georgia.
New York, once the epicenter of the country, has been surpassed by several states that have seen a surge in cases in recent months. The state now reports a percentage of positivity – how many people test positive compared to how many are tested – of about 0.93%, according to the governor’s office.
“Despite the increasing rate of infection across the country and in our region, we continue to see our numbers at low levels, all thanks to the hard work of New Yorkers to change their behavior and our data drive, a gradual resumption,” the Andrew government said. Cuomo said in a statement Saturday.
California, which reported more than 7,000 cases on Saturday for a total of more than 545,000, has had a degree of positivity in the past two weeks, according to health officials. Hospitalizations across the country are dropping out and there are about 5,746 hospitalized patients – down more than 1,000 from two weeks ago.
In Texas, the governor extended his disaster declaration as the state reported the highest seven-day positive rate: 19.41%. The previous high, 17.43%, was registered around mid-July. More than 481,000 infections have been reported nationwide, and about 7,872 people remain in hospitals.
Thousands gather in a small town in South Dakota
As the virus spread through many American communities, visitors flocked to South Dakota for the 80th annual Sturgis Rally.
So far, the state has registered one of the lowest cases with about 9,477 infections, according to the state health department.
The event, organized in the city by about 7,000 people, gathers hundreds of thousands of people every year. Although officials say the version will be reduced this year, people are still expected from across the country – including hotspots such as Florida, Texas and Arizona.
There will be concerts, competitions and contests in the nearby campsites every day. City officials say they have recommended guidelines for social distancing and capacity restrictions for bars and restaurants, but none of them are legally enforceable, city governor Daniel Ainsley told CNN.
Dr. Carlos del Rio, a professor of infectious diseases at Emory University, is not worried about the rally because it will be mostly outside, he said. Instead, he said he feared what would happen after the hour when people would go to restaurants, bars and start gathering indoors.
“I am quite concerned that this event could potentially be a disaster,” he said. “There couldn’t be much transmission there, but a lot of people could get infected there and go back to their home states and get the virus there.”
The event lasts until August 16.
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Schools are beginning to welcome students back
While schools are reopening to classrooms, researchers are still working to understand the spread and effects of the virus when it comes to children.
Studies show that older children can transmit coronavirus just like adults, and another study says that children under the age of 5 have a higher viral load of the virus in their noses than older children. and adults also raise questions about the likelihood that they will transmit the virus,
While some U.S. officials say the infection poses less of a risk to the younger population, a 7-year-old boy with no major health conditions died in Georgia last week, becoming the youngest victim in the state. Earlier this month, two teenagers died in Florida from coronavirus complications, bringing the total number of minors who died from the virus to seven.
With a positivity rate below 1%, New York has cleared all school districts in the state to reopen, Cuomo said, adding that plans could change if the rate of infection begins to fall again ahead of planned reopens.
In Georgia, many schools are already open.
At least 260 students and eight teachers in Cherokee’s school district have been quarantined after a number of students and teachers tested positive for the virus during the first week of school. In a statement on its website, the area, which is north of the city of Atlanta, reported positive cases in at least 11 students and two employees. Among them was a sophomore who tested positive for the virus after the first day of school.
Northeast of Atlanta, Barrow County schools announced that the area would begin the year virtually after more than 90 employees were forced to quarantine because they had a confirmed or suspected case of the virus or were exposed to someone who did.
Video: Dr. Birks has a warning for rural Americans (CNN)