Some governors have expressed frustration that constituents aren’t following public health recommendations on physical distancing and masks, but they remain insistent they aren’t looking to shut down their states.
“If people would use their head and follow advice that’s been given to them repeatedly, we would not be having the hot spots and the rise we see here,” said South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster. His state, among the last to shut down and the first to reopen, has seen average daily infection rates since late May double to over 400.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said he doesn’t have second thoughts about opening campgrounds on Thursday, even as daily new cases have also doubled in his state. The Democratic governor said he feels the state can keep moving forward as long as ICU beds remain available. There were 68 coronavirus patients in ICU beds as of Tuesday, less than half of the state’s previous high in earlier stages of the pandemic.
“If that ICU number does significantly go up that’s when we really have to look at things,” Beshear said, without specifying what number would trigger alarm.
In Arizona, where coronavirus patients are landing in the ICU in record numbers and a growing percentage of tests are coming back positive, the state health department over the weekend instructed hospitals to “fully activate” emergency plans for the first time since March. There are no discussions about shutting down parts of the state, state health director Cara Christ told a local Fox station.
In Texas, which is reporting record coronavirus hospitalizations this week, Abbott said the spike in cases is expected and “largely the result of isolated hot spots in nursing homes, jails, and meat packing plants.” But local health officials disagree and said there’s a clear link between the state’s early reopening and the surge in cases, even if there are other contributing factors.
“We don’t know how much, but we do know people are mixing together and putting themselves at risk,” said Umair Shah, executive director of Harris County’s public health department. “We’re watching a number of metrics and they are all going in the wrong direction. It feels like we’re going back to where we were several months ago.”
Gary Herbert of Utah, the lone governor to slow down his state’s reopening amid surging infections, went against the advice of a state commission by extending current restrictions for at least another week.
“Common sense requires keeping our current health risk guidance in place,” he said in a statement. “A marked increase in disease incidence and in hospitalizations due to COVID-19 give us pause.”