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The number of Americans killed by the coronavirus topped 150,000 Wednesday as death tolls surged to records in some of the hardest-hit and most populous states.
California and Florida, two of the places most affected by the pandemic’s current surge, reported daily fatalities that easily broke previous records, even as new infections appear to have reached a plateau. Texas, which already raised its death tally by 13% this week after changing how it reports cases, also set a new high in daily fatalities Wednesday.
Deaths continue to rise even though the wave of new infections that began in June, sweeping across the South and West, appears to have leveled off. New cases reported each day are holding even or falling in half of U.S. states, according to Johns Hopkins University statistics, as public officials impose mask orders and freeze efforts to restart their economies. But fatalities still increase, as people stricken by the virus weeks earlier succumb.
“What we’re now reaping is what we sowed,” said Jason Salemi, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida, commenting on his state’s outbreak. “Even if we were able to plateau in cases, we’re plateauing at a pretty high level.”
Around the U.S., the pandemic continued to bend life to its will Wednesday.
In Washington, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi required all lawmakers to wear masks in the chamber after Texas Republican Representative Louis Gohmert, who is frequently seen walking the Capitol’s halls barefaced, said that he tested positive for Covid-19.
His home state is establishing a field hospital at the McAllen Convention Center along the U.S.-Mexico border to ease the strain on medical facilities, Governor Greg Abbott said in a tweet. Illinois stopped recreational sports, and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan advised against traveling to a swath of Southern states with spiking Covid-19 cases, Florida among them.
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