August was deadliest month for coronavirus in California and Idaho | Coronavirus outbreak

As August came to a close, several states marked the month as their deadliest yet in battling the coronavirus pandemic, including Idaho and California.

According to an LA Times analysis, California reported 3,745 Covid-19 deaths in August, an 18% increase since July. With 700,000 coronavirus cases, California had the most in the country.

Meanwhile in Idaho, the number of deaths last month nearly doubled.

But as the US reached the milestone on Sunday of more than 6m coronavirus infections nationwide, it is midwestern states such as Iowa, North and South Dakota, as well as Minnesota that have emerged as the nation’s fastest-growing areas for the virus.

On Sunday, White House coronavirus taskforce experts cautioned Iowa lawmakers that the nation’s current hotspot should close bars in 61 counties and test all returning college students.

Still, Iowa State University planned to host 25,000 fans at its football home opener in Ames on 12 September, despite the New York Times labeling it the country’s worst coronavirus “hotspot” city.

“If we determine that mitigation measures were not followed adequately at the first game, we will have no fans at future games,” the athletic director, Jamie Pollard, told fans in a letter published on Monday.

Data supports some health officials who say the outbreak may be slowing down. Nationwide, new cases, deaths, hospitalizations, as well as the rate of positive tests have all declined.

But while new daily cases have continued their downward trend and the rate of daily reported deaths remains well below its spring peak, the total more than doubled on average since early July. The US is currently on track to reach a sobering total of 200,000 deaths by mid-September.

The outbreak continues to wreak havoc on vulnerable groups including the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions. Officials with the Department of Veterans Affairs also reported more coronavirus deaths in August compared with previous months.

But in response to increased fatalities, the department instead took aim at their own public records and tracking. The VA press secretary, Christina Noel, told the Military Times that leaders “disagree with the premise” that more patients died last month.

“The VA cannot confirm month-to-month fatality counts,” she said, noting that sometimes “reporting lags from one month to the next”.

The response follows a shift in the Trump administration’s overall messaging on its handling of the coronavirus – from rejecting criticism to touting its response as a success. Officials with the White House taskforce were even reported to have released guidance that contradicts Donald Trump’s statements on the virus.

As the president reposted messages from online groups who often attack Dr Anthony Fauci and Dr Deborah Birx, the White House’s experts, both officials have instead pinpointed the uptick as a result of reopening schools, colleges and businesses.

On Monday, Fauci warned Americans to avoid large gatherings and parties for the upcoming Labor Day weekend. In an interview with CNN, Birx urged Americans to “do the right thing” by continuing to wear masks and socially distance

“If [Americans] do the right thing today, we go into the fall with much fewer cases,” she said.

Source: The Guardian

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