Almost 90% of states had loosened their original-related stay-at-home orders to one extent or another as of Tuesday, with some now allowing non-essential retailers, restaurants and movie theaters to reopen. Much of this flies in the face of advice from infectious disease experts who say the United States is loosening its grip too quickly.
CBS News analyzed data from Johns Hopkins University and found that 26 states and territories reported more confirmed cases of coronavirus last week than they did the week before. While some governors attribute it to expanded testing, all but two of the states with increases have already begun to ease social distancing restrictions. That’s leading some models to forecast an increase in COVID-19 deaths over those projected in recent estimates.
The following states reported increases in the number of new confirmed cases last week compared to the week before. The number next to each state represents the increase in the week ending May 3 compared to the week ending April 26:
Illinois (4,050 more new cases)
Even as Governor J.B. Pritzker unveiled plans Tuesday for reopening the state, Illinois continued to grapple with a growing number of new cases. Illinois reported 2,000 or more new daily cases for the first time two weeks ago. Since then, it’s reported more than 2,000 new cases almost every day, including last Friday, when the state reported more than 3,000. The epicenter for the state remains Chicago, which has almost tripled its case total since April 16, when Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city was flattening its curve. On Tuesday, the city’s health department reported more than 1,000 people had died citywide.
Minnesota (1,815 more new cases)
Last week, Governor Tim Walz allowed an additional 80,000-100,000 workers from industrial and manufacturing fields to return to work. On Tuesday, he announced that elective surgeries can resume next week, even as the state reported more than 600 new cases, a one-day record. A week ago, Minnesota reported more than 300 cases in a day for the first time, and the new pace has only increased. Since then, the state has reported at least 400 new cases a day.
Texas (1,324 more new cases)
Texas has been one of the most aggressive states in relaxing social distancing guidelines, moving in near lockstep with Georgia on reopening measures. Last Friday, libraries, museums, restaurants and movie theaters were permitted to reopen at 25% capacity. Hair and nail salons are the next businesses slated to open, later this week. All of this comes as reported cases in the state trend in the wrong direction. Texas has reported 1,000 or more new cases in a single day seven times, five of which have come in the last week. The correlation between relaxed social distancing and an increase isn’t lost on Governor Greg Abbott who,said, “The more that you have people out there, the greater the possibility there is for transmission.”
Virginia (1,274 more new cases)
Officials in Virginia have been wary of lifting social distancing measures, only allowing elective surgeries to resume last Friday, but cases have grown nonetheless. A week ago, the state reported 800 or more cases in a day for the first time and since then has reported at least 800 each day except for two, including a spike of more than 1,000 cases Friday. One of the counties driving the increase is Loudon, which has almost doubled its case total in the last 10 days to nearly 1,000. Governor Ralph Northam announced Tuesday that additional businesses will likely be allowed to open next week.
Maryland (1,147 more new cases)
Maryland is one of only two states that reported an increase in cases last week compared to the week before while not loosening stay-at-home restrictions. Much of the increase can be attributed to a one-day high of 1,700 new cases reported last Friday, a 42% increase from the previous record set earlier in April. Last week, Governor Larry Hogan also reported more than 260 infections among workers in the poultry industry, one of the state’s most lucrative. Maryland produces about three percent of the nation’s chicken.
Iowa (1,125 more new cases)
Governor Kim Reynolds was one of seven who didn’t institute a statewide stay-at-home order, but the approach is drawing new concern as the rate of infection grows and meatpacking plants are forced to close under the weight of sick workers. On Tuesday, Reynolds confirmed coronavirus outbreaks in at least four meatpacking plants with more than 1,600 sick workers in all. And in an on-the-record meeting with reporters, Dr. Deborah Birx and Vice President Mike Pence highlighted Des Moines as a city they’re watching closely.