(CBSDFW.COM/CNN) – In the past two weeks, the US recorded more than 915,000 new cases of coronavirus — that’s more than the cases reported across the country for the entire month of June.
The staggering number signals the US is still far from containing the virus, which is running rampant across American communities, overwhelming hospitals and testing labs. The spread has promised a bleak outlook for the months ahead, according to both health officials and the President. And experts have highlighted the actual number of infections is likely much higher than the reported cases.
That comes as some US leaders have now admitted parts of the country reopened too soon. And as they did, residents were too quick to jump back to old habits: crowding bars, packing beaches on hot summer days, holding barbeques and spending holidays with friends.
The surge in new cases across the South and Southwest has now been linked back to Americans’ travel around Memorial Day and reopenings, White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said Wednesday.
“This epidemic all appeared across the South and the West after June 10 simultaneously,” she said. “We saw wide virus spread across counties, across rural areas, across small metros and big metros, all the way across the South, Southwest and West, almost simultaneously.
Hoping to catch up to the spread, at least 27 states have hit a pause or rolled back their reopening plans. In Houston, Mayor Sylvester Turner spoke again in favor of a second stay-at-home order amid a rise in cases. In Los Angeles, the mayor said the city was on the “brink” of another lockdown. But in Georgia, the governor slammed Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ decision to revert back to Phase 1 — where residents are ordered home with the exception of essential trips.
What comes next is unclear: With now at least 41 states requiring face coverings, some have said strict measures like limiting gatherings and enforcing social distancing and masks can be as impactful as another lockdown. But others aren’t as hopeful.
“Masks will help, but I think we need a lot more than masks to contain this epidemic that’s running through our country like a freight train,” said William Haseltine, the chair and president of the global health think tank, ACCESS Health International.
“Until we see major changes of behavior and until we see the public health services here stepping forward with many more resources, we aren’t sure of containing this.”
Louisiana On Track To Hit 100,000 Cases
Louisiana, where the governor said earlier this month progress made in June against the virus was wiped out in weeks, is set to join at least 11 other states who have reported a total of more than 100,000 infections.
Those include Texas, California (with the most cases), New York, Florida, New Jersey, Illinois, Georgia, Arizona, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
In Texas, the state broke its record for hospitalizations two days in a row this week, with 10,848 patients reported Tuesday and 10,893 reported Wednesday. It also reported Wednesday its highest single-day number of deaths: 197.
Fauci: ‘I Don’t See Us Eradicating’ Virus
As states focus on reeling in the spread of coronavirus, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert says the world may never eradicate the virus, but may be able to control it with a vaccine and good public health measures.
“I think with a combination of good public health measures, a degree of global herd immunity and a good vaccine — which I do hope and feel cautiously optimistic that we will get. I think when you put all three of those together, I think we will get very good control of this,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said, speaking during a webcast hosted by the TB Alliance.
Earlier this month, the World Health Organization also said it is unlikely that the world can eradicate or eliminate COVID-19 any time soon.
There are now positive results coming out of trials involving three different coronavirus vaccines, but even when a vaccine is approved, big hurdles will remain for distribution.
And another hurdle: half of Americans wouldn’t get a coronavirus vaccine if it were available today because of a lack of trust, former US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy told CNN earlier this week.
Murphy said, “We know that distributing vaccines is going to be hard enough and if people aren’t willing to take it because we haven’t built enough public trust, that’s going to seriously impair our ability to build herd immunity.”
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The CNN Wire™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company contributed to this report.)