By Gabriella Borter and Lisa Shumaker
(Reuters) – Six states reported record numbers of hospitalized COVID-19 patients, including Wisconsin, where officials on Tuesday issued a new order limiting the size of indoor public gatherings.
The surge of COVID hospitalizations and new cases in some states coincides with U.S. President Donald Trump and several members of his White House staff testing positive for the novel coronavirus. Trump’s doctors on Tuesday said he was not displaying any acute symptoms after he left the Walter Reed Medical Center, where he was treated for three days.
The spike in reported hospitalizations on Monday hit states in the Midwest the hardest, with Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming reporting their highest figures, according to a Reuters tally. Wisconsin has 782 hospitalized coronavirus patients, compared with 433 two weeks ago.
Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services issued a directive that gatherings will be limited to no more than 25% of a room or building’s total occupancy.
“We’re in a crisis right now and need to immediately change our behavior to save lives,” Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers said in a statement. “We are continuing to experience a surge in cases and many of our hospitals are overwhelmed, and I believe limiting indoor public gatherings will help slow the spread of this virus.”
In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced new restrictions as the state has seen new hotspots pop up in and around New York City, the hardest-hit metropolitan area in the United States. Among the “intense” cluster areas that will need to apply the governor’s strictest new shutdown orders are parts of Brooklyn, Queens and parts of Rockland and Orange Counties.
The new restrictions affect houses of worship the most – those in hotspots are now required to operate at 25% of capacity with a maximum of 10 people. Schools are being closed in some areas.
Cuomo said that while the new restrictions are necessary – they were “only as good as they’re enforced, and a lack of enforcement has contributed to this problem.”
“There is no way we didn’t see this coming,” Cuomo said.
The news was better farther north – in Maine the governor outlined the next reopening steps.
Governor Janet Mills said Maine was moving into the fourth stage of restarting the state’s economy, saying that as of Oct. 13, churches, restaurants and cinemas in the state would be allowed to operate at 50% capacity.
In Washington, Republican Trump abruptly ended talks https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSL1N2GX0BC with Democrats on an economic stimulus bill to deliver pandemic aid to Americans before the November elections, sending the stock market sliding.
Democratic House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Trump’s decision shows he is “putting himself first at the expense of the country” with cases rising in the United States. The total number of diagnosed infections is an estimated 7.5 million and more than 210,600 people have died in the pandemic, the highest in the world.
(GRAPHIC: Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus – https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/)
(Reporting by Gabriella Borter and Maria Caspani in New York and Lisa Shumaker in Washington; Additional reporting by Brad Brooks in Lubbock, Texas; editing by Bill Tarrant and Grant McCool)
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