West driving long-feared increase in US deaths as daily average increases by 86 in two weeks

With populous states such as Florida, Texas and California recording an explosion in the number of cases in recent weeks, scientists warned that the deaths per day figure would rise too.

“It’s consistently picking up. And it’s picking up at the time you’d expect it to,” said William Hanage, a Harvard University infectious diseases researcher.

The number of coronavirus deaths per day in the US has begun to climb, driven by the surge in infections across the south and west of the country.

An upturn was expected given that a death from Covid-19 usually comes several weeks after a person is infected.

According to an Associated Press analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University, the seven-day rolling average for daily reported deaths in the US has increased from 578 two weeks ago to 664 on July 10 – still well below the heights hit in April.

Daily reported deaths increased in 27 states over that time period, but the majority of those states are averaging under 15 new deaths per day. A smaller group of states has been driving the nationwide increase in deaths.

California is averaging 91 reported deaths per day while Texas is close behind with 66, but Florida, Arizona, Illinois, New Jersey and South Carolina also saw sizeable rises. New Jersey’s recent jump is thought to be partially attributable to its less frequent reporting of probable deaths.

Health officials in Florida recorded the state’s highest number of deaths in a single day from the coronavirus on Thursday when 120 people died.

On Friday, another 95 deaths from Covid-19 were recorded, according to data from the Florida Department of Health. A figure released earlier on Saturday misreported the number of deaths as 188.

Another 10,360 new cases of coronavirus were also diagnosed as the state struggles to control its spread.

Hospitals across Florida are reporting intensive care units at near capacity and are implementing plans to deal with the flood of patients, based on the experience of New York hospitals in March and April.

Approximately a quarter of a million Floridians have tested positive for Covid-19, and the hospitalisation rate is rising rapidly. More than 7,000 people have been admitted, including 1,600 in Miami alone.

Case numbers have been spiking since mid-June with bars, restaurants and beaches being closed down not long after reopening to prevent people gathering in crowds.

Despite the surge in infections, Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando reopened on Saturday, some four months after shutting down. Epcot and Hollywood Studios will reopen on Wednesday.

Temperature checks and other safety measures, as well as changes to dining and queueing for attractions have been implemented.

On Saturday New York, once the epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic in the US, reported its lowest number of hospitalisations and deaths since St Patrick’s Day in mid-March. Governor Andrew Cuomo fears a resurgence in cases is inevitable amid outbreaks in other states.

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