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Some states hit pause, others press on amid spike in virus

Utah and Oregon put any further reopening of their economies on hold amid a spike in corona virus cases, but there was no turning back Friday in such states as Texas, Arkansas and Arizona despite flashing warning signs there, too.

One by one, states are weighing the health risks from the virus against the economic damage from the stay at home orders that have thrown millions out of work over the past three months.

And many governors are coming down on the side of jobs, even though an Associated Press analysis this week found that cases are rising in nearly half the states — a trend experts attributed in part to the gradual reopening of businesses over the past few weeks.

Texas hit highs this week for hospitalizations and new COVID-19 cases, prompting Houston’s top county official, Lina Hidalgo, to warn that “we may be approaching the precipice of a disaster. Meanwhile, the state went ahead with allowing restaurants to expand eat in dining Friday to 75% of capacity, up from 50%.

“Oh, yeah, I’ve been concerned,” 32-year-old Renata Liggins said as she settled in front of a plate of brisket at Black’s Barbecue in Austin and the number of people now hospitalized with COVID-19 in Texas climbed to its highest level yet, at more than 2,100. But “it just feels I can finally breathe a little bit.

Alabama, which began reopening in early May, has seen more than a quarter of the state’s 23,000 cases come in the past two weeks as Republican Gov. Kay Ivey emphasized personal responsibility. And Arkansas, where both active cases and hospitalizations have more than doubled since Memorial Day, is letting restaurants seat more customers on Monday.

“Regardless of what we see in the next week, we made the right decision to go ahead and lift some of these restrictions so we don’t cause more damage to people’s lives and their livelihood,” GOP Gov. Asa Hutchison said.

Arizona has become one of the most troubling hot spots in the U.S. as new cases have surged to more than 1,000 a day, up from fewer than 400 before stay at home orders expired in mid May.

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has given assurances the health care system can handle it, and Arizona Health Director Dr. Cara Christ said: “We are not going to be able to stop the spread, and so we can’t stop living as well.

California, which implemented the country’s first statewide stay at home order, entered the most expansive phase of its gradual reopening Friday. Wineries started uncorking their bottles and welcoming people back to their tasting rooms, and hotels, zoos, museums and aquariums were also allowed to reopen. San Francisco restaurants resumed outdoor dining, and the San Diego Zoo opened on a limited basis.

Cases are rising as the state expands testing, but health officials say key metrics to watch are the positivity rate among those tested and hospitalizations, and both have remained relatively steady in recent weeks as businesses gradually reopened. The state has “guardrails and cautions” in place that give officials confidence to continue reopening, said Mark Ghaly, the state’s health and human services secretary.

So far, only a small number of governors have shown a willingness to retreat, or at least hit pause.

Republican Gov. Gary Herbert of Utah and Democratic Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon said they would halt lifting further restrictions for the time being as new cases flare.

“As I’ve said before, reopening comes with real risk,” Brown said in announcing a one week pause that will affect, among other places, Portland, the state’s biggest city.

She said the increase in positive test results was caused in part by the reopening of some counties. Oregon reported 178 new cases Thursday, the highest count since the outbreak began.

Elsewhere across the country, Iowa allowed bars, restaurants, theaters and other businesses to pack in more customers. Swimming pools, senior centers and adult day care centers were also cleared to open back up. Iowa is still seeing hot spots, especially near meatpacking plants.

In Texas, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott “is making pretty clear at this point he wants the economy to open,” a worried Austin Mayor Steve Adler said. “My hope is that when he sees what kind of surge there’s going to be, he does act at a state level.

____

DeMillo reported from Little Rock, Ark. Associated Press writers Andrew Selsky in Salem, Ore.; Kimberly Chandler in Montgomery, Ala.; and Bob Christie in Phoenix contributed to this report.

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26 Comments

  1. Reply

    Amazing

  2. Reply

    Thanks for the update

  3. Reply

    Nice

  4. Reply

    Thanks for the update

  5. Reply

    So true
    There is alot of risk,this virus is uncertain

  6. Reply

    God pls heal the world

  7. Reply

    Thanks for sharing

  8. Reply

    This is really good and interesting to know

  9. Reply

    Nice
    Thanks for sharing

  10. Reply

    Good to know

  11. Reply

    Thanks for the update

  12. Reply

    The virus is Unpredictable

  13. Reply

    good one

  14. Reply

    Good article

  15. Profile photo ofSommycruz

    Reply

    Nice information

  16. Reply

    Good to know

  17. Reply

    Cool

  18. Reply

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    God pls help us

  20. Reply

    Some part was hit bad

  21. Reply

    Nice article

  22. Reply

    This is getting out of hand

  23. Reply

    Good sharing

  24. Reply

    Nice exposure

  25. Reply

    The federal government need to take a definite stand

  26. Reply

    great

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