WASHINGTON, June 28 (CGTN) - New coronavirus cases have jumped in more than half of U.S. states, reaching record highs after months of uneven mitigation efforts and sometimes contradictory messaging from the government.
The governors of California, Texas and Florida, the three most populous states in the country, have ordered to tighten some restriction orders in order to curb the new surge of the coronavirus.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom rolled back reopenings of bars in seven counties, including Los Angeles, trying to quell the new surge of coronavirus. He ordered them to close immediately on Sunday and urged eight other counties to issue local health orders mandating the same.
"Due to the rising spread of #COVID19, CA (California) is ordering bars to close in Fresno, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, San Joaquin, and Tulare," California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Twitter.
About 13.5 million people live in the seven counties, accounting for roughly one-third of California's population.
The hardest-hit U.S. states are currently in the South and West, where many state leaders pushed for early economic reopenings.
But California bars were only allowed to reopen from June 12, with the final decision left to local authorities. Bars in Los Angeles, the second-largest city in the United States, had been open since June 19.
Texas and Florida have also once again cracked down, ordering bars to stop serving alcohol.
"COVID-19 has taken a very swift and very dangerous turn in Texas over just the past few weeks," said Gov. Greg Abbott, who allowed businesses to start reopening in early May but on Friday shut down bars and limited restaurant dining amid a spike in cases.
"Over just the past few weeks, the daily number of cases have gone from an average of about 2,000, to more than 5,000 a day," he said on Sunday.
Last week, Gov. Abbott told the bars to close and lowered restaurants' indoor seating capacity to 50 percent from the previous 75 percent.
U.S. Vice President Pence on Sunday said the federal government would extend support for coronavirus testing in Texas as long as necessary amid a dangerous surge in new cases, after U.S. health officials had moved to curb some sites in various localities.
Pence said the decision to transition from some federal testing sites was made "several weeks ago," before the latest rise in COVID-19 cases, telling reporters at a news conference in Dallas: "We'll be extending that every bit as long as Texas wants us to."
More Florida beaches will be closing again to avoid further spread of the new coronavirus as officials try to tamp down on large gatherings amid a spike in COVID-19 cases. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said interactions among young people are driving the surge.
"Caution was thrown to the wind and so we are where we are," DeSantis said.
Three northeastern states that made significant progress beating back the pandemic – New York, New Jersey and Connecticut – have urged visitors arriving from U.S. hotspots such as Texas, Florida and Alabama to quarantine themselves.
On Sunday, Arizona also recorded a record daily increase of more than 3,800 cases. Hundreds of people reportedly traveled to rivers in the state to escape the hot weather.
In Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee also put a hold on plans to move counties to the fourth phase of his reopening plan as cases continue to increase.
But in Hawaii, the city of Honolulu announced that campgrounds would reopen for the first time in three months with limited permits to ensure social distancing.
President Donald Trump has pushed firmly for the U.S. economy to reopen despite the surge in cases as he prepares for a tough battle to hold onto office in November elections.
The latest upsurge, pushing the nation's total of declared cases to more than 2.5 million and its death toll past 125,000, has prompted a growing chorus of calls for much stricter rules and enforcement of restrictions.
"This is a very, very serious situation and the window is closing for us to take action and get this under control," Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on CNN on Sunday.