After months of working to bring deaths and hospitalizations back under control, New York is officially no longer the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. And the state’s coronavirus response for the past several weeks has allowed other states to pass it for the most cases in the country, even as the Empire State is trying to hold off a potential second wave.
By the end of July, California and Florida were leading with the highest number of cases, and other states were quickly catching up, according to data from Politico. Officially the new state with the most positive tests, California, had surpassed 466,000 cases as of July 28. Florida had the second most with more than 441,000 cases, and New York coronavirus cases had risen to more than 412,000. By early August, Georgia had passed New York as well.
California was one of the first states to take COVID-19 seriously by issuing lockdowns in cities like San Francisco and making testing and masks more accessible. Analysts say the recent surge over the summer can be attributed to reopening the state too soon.
Meanwhile, Florida made headlines throughout the summer for routinely breaking the nation’s records for daily COVID-19 cases. In Florida’s case, experts were critical of the state’s resistance to face coverings and a surge of large crowds after the state reopened beaches. Despite the spike, Florida is requiring public schools to open with in-person learning in August, NPR reported.
California and Florida might not be the frontrunners for long. Texas trails close behind Florida, with more than 394,000 positive COVID-19 tests. Texas also began to see a surge in cases after reopening the state in May. Critics attribute the rise to the state’s initial pushback against mask mandates.
The Guardian reported that the Rio Grande Valley, along the Mexican border, is the new epicenter of the pandemic in Texas. More than 15,000 people have tested positive for the virus in Hidalgo County alone, and hospitals say they are overwhelmed with patients. A recent blow from Hurricane Hanna in late July did not help.
Ivan Melendez, Hidalgo County’s health authority, told the Guardian the situation is dire.
“The Rio Grande Valley has become the hotspot of a hotspot of a hotspot,” Melendez said. “We’re at the epicenter of the coronavirus in the United States.”
Texas isn’t the only state that has experts concerned. According to the Hill, Georgia surpassed 175,000 state-wide cases on July 28 after the state recorded a daily increase of 4,000. As COVID-19 tests surge, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) is suing Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) for attempting to pass a city-wide mask mandate. Despite the spike, many school districts in Georgia still plan to reopen in August.
NPR reported that cases are currently rising in 44 states in the U.S., as well as in Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. has accumulated more than 4 million COVID-19 cases since January and more than 150,000 deaths.