NATIONWIDE — Yet another wave of the deadly coronavirus is washing over the United States, appearing bigger and more widespread than the surges that happened in the spring and summer — and threatening to be worse.
The U.S. hit a record number of coronavirus hospitalizations Tuesday and surpassed 1 million new confirmed cases in just the first 10 days of November amid a nationwide surge of infections that shows no signs of slowing.
Several states posted their own records on Tuesday, including over 12,600 new cases in Illinois, 10,800 in Texas and 7,000 in Wisconsin. Texas, the country’s second-most populous state, became the first U.S. state with more than 1 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University early Wednesday.
There is no universal federal mandate in the United States that instructs state leaders on how to mitigate the spread of the virus. As such, governors have opted to take matters into their own hands — with many re-upping or revising COVID guidance as cases spiked in recent days.
Here is a running list of states that have recently updated their COVID guidance:
Alaska’s governor has announced a new COVID-19 disaster declaration for the state that will take effect Nov. 16 and last 30 days.
Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced the updated declaration on Friday, ahead of the scheduled expiration of the emergency declaration he issued in March.
Dunleavy said he took action because of “the rise in cases, and given the uncertainty over the next two to three months,” he said.
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services on Saturday reported that the state hit a daily record in newly confirmed coronavirus cases.
The state reported 604 cases, the highest in a single day since Oct. 25. Alaska has had 19,306 confirmed cases and 79 deaths since the pandemic outbreak as of Saturday.
“I continue to work with the Legislature to see if we can get a session called by the Legislature so that we can act upon this,” Dunleavy said.
Republican Senate President Cathy Giessel and independent House Speaker Bryce Edgmon had asked the governor to call the Legislature into a special session to extend the declaration. State law requires the Legislature to vote on whether declarations will last more than 30 days.
Giessel said in a statement following Dunleavy’s announcement that the Legislature could meet before Nov. 15.
“It’s concerning to me that the governor has chosen this far more arbitrary and tenuous course of action,” she said.
Dunleavy had not previously clarified whether he would extend the declaration.
Dunleavy said if Alaskans fail to change their behavior and case rates remain high, hospitals will be overwhelmed and hospital workers and members of police forces and the military will fall ill.
More areas of California must impose restrictions on businesses to try to curb a resurgence of the coronavirus that has hospitalizations rising as they did in June when the state imposed a statewide mask requirement, state officials said Tuesday.
Three of California’s largest counties are among 11 statewide with sufficiently high numbers of infections to trigger state-mandated limits on business operations.
Meanwhile, San Francisco, which has the lowest virus case rates among California’s major cities, voluntarily imposed new restrictions, including a ban on indoor dining.
San Diego, Sacramento and Contra Costa counties all moved backwards in the state’s four-tiered system for reopening, which is based on virus case and infection rates.
“We are certainly seeing, almost all across the state, an upward trajectory,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s secretary of health and human services. If trends don’t ease by next week, he said, “over half of California counties will have moved into a more restrictive tier.”
Every Tuesday the state updates its 58 counties’ progress toward reopening. The lower the cases and positivity rate, the fewer restrictions there are for businesses and certain activities in that county.
Connecticut reimposed some restrictions on businesses and gatherings in early November as coronavirus rates continue to increase across the state.
Gov. Ned Lamont on Nov. 2 urged people to work from home if possible and suggested that those over age 60 and with chronic medical conditions remain home as much as possible as well.
“We are putting in these restrictions on a statewide basis now to make sure we don’t have to do more severe things later,” said Lamont. The state had allowed leaders of local communities with increased cases of COVID-19 to roll back the state’s third phase of reopening.
Restaurants’ indoor capacity limit will revert back to 50%, down from 75% under the phase 3 reopening that started last month, with eight people maximum per table. Lamont had originally said restaurants and certain attractions such as movie theaters would have to close by 9:30 p.m., with an exception for takeout and delivery of meals. Later the same week, the governor said restaurants will be allowed to stay open until 10 p.m.
Officials said it’s part of an effort to stop bars from masquerading as restaurants and drawing large crowds. Bars have not been allowed to reopen in Connecticut.
The governor reported that 496 patients were hospitalized with the virus on Monday, an increase of 94 from Friday and the state’s highest figure since the end of May. The figure is double the number who were hospitalized with the virus just two weeks ago.
Gov. Kim Reynolds said Tuesday that she will require that people wear masks if they join indoor gatherings of 25 or more people as Iowa sees a surge of coronavirus infections that is threatening to overwhelm hospitals.
Reynolds signed a proclamation that took effect on Wednesday requiring masks for indoor and outdoor gatherings of 100 or more people. The governor continued the requirement of 6 feet of distance between groups in bars and restaurants and limited groups to eight people unless they’re all members of the same household.
She said the new rules don’t apply to school districts — nearly all of which already have the option of shifting to online-only learning because of the high positivity rate throughout the state.
Asked why she didn’t impose a mask requirement for smaller gatherings, Reynolds said: “It’s a place to start and it’s progress from where we were.”
The mask requirements apply to social, community recreational leisure or sporting events, she said.
The Republican governor has repeatedly refused to impose a statewide mask mandate and was among the first governors nationally to remove most limits on gatherings that were imposed in the spring when the virus first began to surge. Noting the increasing number of people being treated for the virus in hospitals, Reynolds left open the possibility of new restrictions if infections don’t start declining.
On Tuesday, all but nine of Iowa’s 99 counties reported a 14-day positivity rate of 15% or more.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear on Tuesday released guidance for the upcoming Thanksgiving holidays, urging Kentuckians to avoid large Thanksgiving gatherings as a safeguard to protect extended family and friends from a surging COVID-19 outbreak.
Instead, in-person get-togethers should be limited to people from the same household, he said.
While the health guidelines might be tough to swallow, the guidance can save lives as Kentucky struggles with its worst outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the Democratic governor said.
“Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times during the year. It is a special time for my family which is normally spent with a lot of extended family,” Gov. Beshear said at a press conference. “But this year those larger gatherings can be very dangerous. We are seeing COVID-19 spread and the resulting loss happening more at family and social gatherings than anywhere else right now.”
“This, right now, is the most dangerous time we’ve had with this virus,” Beshear added.
The restrictions don’t mean a cancellation of Thanksgiving, the governor said.
“Far from it,” he said. “We ought to celebrate our blessings. We ought to be able to be in touch with each other through Zoom. But we ought to be thankful for having the knowledge of how to protect those around us.”
The state’s latest statistics show the virus is “spreading really fast and we need your help” to contain it, the governor said. Nearly 1,190 virus patients are hospitalized in Kentucky, including 286 in intensive care, he said. The statewide rate for positive tests continued to climb, reaching 7.68%.
Total statewide virus cases surpassed 124,600.
Eighty of Kentucky’s 120 counties are reported to be in the red zone — the most serious category for COVID-19 incidence rates. People in those counties are asked to follow stricter, but still only recommended, guidelines to contain the virus.
Though Maine has been one of the most successful states in controlling the virus, the state neared its peak number of hospitalizations this week — 59 — and reported four deaths on Tuesday alone.
In turn, Maine suspended its plan to reopen bars on Nov. 2 and imposed new restrictions on indoor gatherings. Starting Nov. 4, indoor gatherings must not exceed 50 people.
“All gatherings pose a risk of transmission of this virus,” said Gov. Janet Mills, reminding Maine residents to wear masks. “I don’t want COVID-19 to be the uninvited guest at the party.”
Starting Wednesday night, Maryland bars and restaurants will have to reduce their indoor capacity to 50 percent, down from 75 percent. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan announced the changes Tuesday after the state added more than 1,000 new virus cases for six days in a row.
“Today I’m reporting we have now crossed over into the danger zone,” Hogan said. “Too many residents and businesses have COVID fatigue, and they’ve begun letting their guard down.”
Hogan added that other restaurant restrictions remain in place but weren’t being followed, including limits on standing in bars and restrictions on groups of more than six people.
Some local leaders went even further, including Montgomery County, which reduced indoor capacity down to 25 percent Tuesday. The city of Baltimore will impose an 11 p.m. closing time starting Thursday night and also reduce indoor capacity to 25 percent.
Gov. Hogan has recommended all residents refrain from non-essential travel, including to states where cases are rising quickly. According to data from the COVID Tracking Project, every single state has seen an increase in cases over the last week.
Starting Friday in Minnesota, indoor and outdoor gatherings will be limited to ten people or less, and most events and businesses will have to shut down after 10 p.m.
On Tuesday, Gov. Tim Walz announced restaurants and bars must stop doing indoor service after the new curfew, though they can still serve food to-go. And he specifically limited receptions for events like weddings to 50 people or less starting Nov. 27.
Walz said the new restrictions are meant to prevent gatherings of young people, which is the population driving Minnesota’s surge in cases.
“Most young people are taking great precautions to protect themselves and their community,” Gov. Walz said.“But this virus is spreading like wildfire, and every gathering place is now more dangerous than it was a month ago.”
While Nebraska residents can still dine indoors, the state will now enforce six feet of separation inside businesses and require masks for people interacting longer than 15 minutes, Nebraska Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts announced Monday. Indoor dining capacity will also be reduced to 25 percent, down from 50 percent.
Nebraska has seen cases increase by 17% in the last week alone, and the state has consistently reported more than 1,500 new cases per day. 820 Nebraskans are hospitalized with COVID-19, a new record for the state.
“We really need people to follow the guidelines we put out there,” Ricketts said. “One of the things we’re very concerned about is our hospital capacity.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced new restrictions on bars, restaurants and gyms Wednesday, imposing a 10 p.m. closing time on any indoor establishment across the state.
"The scientists all said for months we would see a national and global surge in the fall and winter, and right now, the national surge keeps getting worse," Gov. Cuomo said. "We have learned how to stay ahead of COVID. When we see a small increase, we attack it. That is our strategy as cases increase all around us.”
Bars and restaurants can continue to serve customers via curbside pickup after 10 p.m., but they must only serve food, no alcohol. The restrictions go into effect Friday.
As of Wednesday night, New York had more than 1,500 hospitalized with COVID-19 and had reported 21 deaths in the previous 24 hours.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is urging people not to hold or attend gatherings due to the state’s “alarming numbers” of COVID cases, the Republican tweeted on Wednesday.
Gov. Gina Raimondo last week announced a series of new measures that were implemented on Sunday statewide in order to mitigate the spread of COVID.
But the measures, which include a stay-at-home advisory during night hours, will not be enforced with a “heavy-handed approach,” Raimondo added.
“It’s an advisory. I am strongly advising you and asking you to stay home in your own house. Not your friend’s, not at a party at someone else’s house – in your house,” the governor said in her weekly address last Thursday. “We’re not going to be pulling cars over, we’re not going to have a heavy-handed approach on enforcement if you’re out after 10. Not at this stage. Hopefully, never.”
Despite the lax enforcement policy, Raimondo’s new measures mandate that Rhode Islanders wear appropriate face coverings when out in public. Restaurants and bars are allowed to continue offering take-out services under the directive, which was extended through the beginning of December.
New limits are also being imposed on catered events, and businesses are being asked to cancel nonessential travel. On the other hand, limits on spectators at indoor sporting events that were imposed last week will be eased starting Monday, the governor said.
Raimondo warned she would have to impose even tougher restrictions — including a broader economic shutdown — in two weeks if residents continue to ignore basic safety guidelines.
The latest average positivity rate in Rhode Island is 3.44%, according to the Associated Press. More than 1,200 people have died and more than 35,000 have tested positive for the virus in the state since the pandemic started.
On Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the state is preparing to obtain and distribute two medicines designed to treat people with COVID-19.
The first is an antibody drug developed by Eli Lilly & Co. called bamlanivimab, which has been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration and has been shown to improve COVID-19 symptoms.
The second is a similar antibody treatment developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. The company has requested emergency use authorization from the FDA. It is stated that President Donald Trump took the drug when he contracted the disease in October.
Abbott also said the state is planning to distribute the as-yet-unreleased COVID vaccine manufactured by drug company Pfizer. On Monday, the company said it has developed a vaccine that testing so far has indicated is 90% effective.
"Swift distribution of vaccines and medical treatments will begin to heal those suffering from COVID-19, slow the spread of the virus, and aid in reducing hospitalizations of Texans," said Gov. Abbott. "As we anticipate the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, the State of Texas is prepared to quickly distribute those medicines to Texans who voluntarily choose to use them."
Abbott’s announcement came as the state became the first in the country to surpass 1 million COVID cases. Texas recorded 10,865 cases on Tuesday, setting a new daily record that surpassed by 74 cases an old mark set July 15, state officials said. According to state figures on Tuesday, an estimated 132,146 cases are active, the most since Aug. 17, and 6,170 COVID-19 cases are hospitalized, the most since Aug. 18.
And despite Abbott’s statewide executive order to reopen businesses in June, some counties have implemented their own piece-meal directives to slow the spread of the disease. El Paso, for example, the county’s top elected official Judge Ricardo Samaniego ordered a two-week shutdown of nonessential activities in late October.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert on Sunday declared a state of emergency and ordered a statewide mask mandate in an attempt to stem a surge in coronavirus patient hospitalizations that is testing the state’s hospital capacity.
Herbert and the Utah Department of Health issued executive and public health orders requiring residents to wear face coverings in public, at work and when they are within 6 feet (2 meters) of people who don’t live in their households.
Several of the state’s largest counties already required masks, but Herbert, a Republican, had resisted extending the rule to the entire state despite a two-month surge of cases.
Herbert said Sunday night that the time to debate masks had passed and insisted his orders won’t shut down the economy.
The new Utah rules also call for a two-week pause on extracurricular activities including athletic events, with the exception of high school championship games and Intercollegiate athletic events as long as testing and social distancing guidelines are adhered to. Herbert ordered a limit on “casual social gatherings” to household members only.
Bars and restaurants may not serve alcohol after 10 p.m. under the new directive, but may remain open.
The orders went into effect at 1 p.m. local time (MST) on Monday and are set to last until Nov. 23.
Herbert’s office said in a statement Sunday that the mask-wearing mandate will be extended beyond Nov. 23 “for the foreseeable future.”
Utah’s seven-day average of newly confirmed daily cases has reached a record-breaking 2,290.
In the past two weeks, Utah’s positivity average — the percentage of coronavirus tests that are positive — has increased from 18.5% to 20.6%, according to state data. At least 659 state residents have died of the coronavirus and more than 132,000 have been infected.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday said he will be introducing new COVID-19 response legislation to provide more support for Wisconsinites, also calling on Congress to pass legislation providing additional resources to states across the country.
In an executive order released the same day, Evers stopped short of mandating new protocols, instead listing a series of recommendations for individuals and businesses alike.
“Every Wisconsinite must take individual responsibility to wear a face covering, stay home as much as possible, physically distance at least six feet from others, wash hands frequently, and
keep your social circle to five people or less,” Evers’ order read in part.
The governor also advised businesses to limit staff and customers in office spaces in order to mitigate the spread of the virus.
"Wisconsin, this is serious. This crisis is urgent," Evers from the Wisconsin State Capitol on Tuesday. "It's not safe to go out, it’s not safe to have others over — it's just not safe. And it might not be safe for a while yet."
Wisconsin had yet another record-breaking day in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, with the states’ Department of Health Services reporting 7,073 new cases — the highest single-day increase yet.
Additionally, the health department reported 66 more deaths and 291 hospitalizations, also marking the highest increases thus far.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.