The US reported more than 125,000 coronavirus cases on Friday, the third daily record in a row, with nearly every state reporting rising trends in infections and hospitalisations.
The spread of the virus since October has been particularly acute in the Midwest, but even states hit earlier in the pandemic are showing renewed increases in cases, leading some state governments to escalate their efforts to contain the spread.
In New York, governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday promised to deploy more National Guard troops to airports to improve adherence to the state’s quarantine rules for travellers from elsewhere in the US, ahead of the holiday season.
The state this week introduced exemptions to its previous 14-day quarantine requirement for most arrivals in the state. Travellers who take a Covid-19 test three days before coming to New York and another three days after arriving are able to move about freely if the second test is negative.
Enforcement of quarantine rules has proved difficult, however, and announcing the increased deployment of the National Guard, Mr Cuomo said: “I want people to know we’re serious.”
New York, which was one of the world’s worst-hit cities during the first wave of cases in March, has since managed to keep case and hospitalisation rates lower than most of the rest of the country, but this is at risk as Covid-19 rates soar across the US.
The National Guard, a uniformed military reserve unit, is already being deployed at some testing sites in New York and is assisting with the traveller screening programme. At airports, troops collect forms from travellers to allow for contact tracing. Many travellers arrive in the state by car, however.
Visitors who do not comply with quarantine rules can be referred to the New York Department of Health and could receive a summons or fine.
Airlines do not believe they will be responsible for checking whether passengers have had Covid-19 tests before boarding.
New York reported more than 3,000 new coronavirus cases on Friday for the first time in six months. The state’s seven-day average is up 21 per cent from a week ago, close to the national average of 25 per cent.
“We’re worried about the holiday season,” Mr Cuomo said. “We’re worried about behaviour in the state, we’re worried about behaviour out of the state.”
New York is not alone in implementing new restrictions. Oregon’s governor on Friday announced a two-week “pause” on activities in certain counties as the state reported a record jump in Covid-19 cases.
In Massachusetts, new measures were imposed on Friday requiring people to wear a mask in public, limiting indoor gatherings to private residences and the enforcement of a night-time stay-at-home advisory. Similar measures go into effect in neighbouring Rhode Island on Sunday.
Over the past week, the US has tallied 679,000 coronavirus infections — more than Iran has confirmed since the start of the pandemic. Half of those cases have been reported in the past three days.
According to a Financial Times analysis of Covid Tracking Project data, the daily average of 97,000 cases over the seven days is the highest since the pandemic first arrived in the US.
The Midwestern states of Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Ohio were among the 16 nationally that reported their biggest daily jumps in cases of the pandemic on Friday.
The number of people currently in US hospitals with coronavirus hit 54,824 on Friday, with 16 states reporting their highest level of patients. That is the highest national level since July 31 and is about 5,100 patients shy of the peak in mid-April when the pandemic was battering northeastern states.
Deaths tend to lag both cases and hospitalisations, and are generally lower than earlier in the pandemic thanks to improved treatment. States attributed a further 1,186 deaths to coronavirus, on Friday, bringing the seven-day average of fatalities to 933, the highest rate since late August.
Additional reporting by Claire Bushey in Chicago
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