Confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus passed 2 million in the United States late Wednesday, according to a Johns Hopkins University database, as many states moved to reopen their economies and protests over racial inequality entered their third straight week.
While it took the U.S. three months to hit 1 million cases, it took only 6 weeks for that number to double. The U.S. has had over 113,000 deaths from the coronavirus since the outbreak began, prompting a fresh wave of concerns as hospitalizations rose amid states’ reopening from lockdowns intended to slow the spread of the virus.
The milestone comes as the coronavirus continues to devastate countries around the world. Like the U.S., other countries are taking similar steps to reopen, despite the highest single-day case count being reported on June 7 with 136,000 cases, according to the World Health Organization.
Nearly every state has taken steps to reopen their economies. Over 44 million Americans have filed for unemployment since March, according to the Department of Labor, and thousands of businesses have closed nationwide in an effort to mitigate the virus’s spread.
In some states like Texas and Arizona, reopening comes as some statewide cases have increased since Memorial Day.
“I think that the states are going to shift around over the course of the summer, which states are hot, which states are cooling down, but my concern is that we don’t really get below very persistent and rather high level of infection across the country,” Scott Gottlieb, the former FDA commissioner, said on CNBC on June 8.
Gottlieb’s statement came after Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott announced that the state would enter phase three of its reopening, which would allow every business the ability to operate at a minimum 50% capacity, with some being allowed to operate at full capacity.
The death of George Floyd, who died in police custody May 25 after a former Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than 8 minutes according to a video, has also led people to gather in cities around the country.
The protests, some of which have thousands of people and little social distancing, have also raised fears over the possibility of a rapid spike in cases. It’s a “perfect setup,” said Anthony Fauci on June 6 in an interview on “Good Morning America.”
“The issue of physical separation is important. Masks can help, but it’s masks plus physical separation, and when you get congregations like we saw with the demonstrations, like we have said – myself and other officials – that’s taking a risk,” Fauci said.