U.S. governors are reversing plans to reopen their states as the country registered the biggest-ever jump in coronavirus cases, in a growing recognition that the contagion is increasingly dictating events in much of America.

Governor Greg Abbott halted the reopening of the Texas economy, as Houston runs out of intensive-care beds for Covid-19 patients and the workers needed to trace their contacts. North Carolina also paused plans to loosen restrictions this week, along with Louisiana and Kansas.

The rollback reflects a growing caution nationwide as the virus races across the U.S., extending its tentacles into places largely spared at the beginning of the outbreak three months ago.

“We reopened too early,” said Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “Masks alone are not going to be adequate.”

On Thursday, America recorded more than 39,000 new Covid-19 cases, surpassing the previous daily peak on April 24, when the virus was hammering New York. Florida, California, Arizona and Texas account for almost half of all new cases, an outsize proportion even after adjusting for their large populations.

Higher Estimates
More than 2.4 million cases have been confirmed in the U.S., but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates infections may have been 10 times higher, with many not showing symptoms, the agency’s director said on a call Thursday.

Covid-19 deaths in the U.S., currently at 124,000, could rise by more than 45% to 180,000 by October, according to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Texas set another daily record for virus cases, and its biggest city, Houston, said it couldn’t hire or retain enough contact tracers to keep up. That means some patients and their recent whereabouts are going uninvestigated, heightening the risk of accelerated spread and raising the specter of mortality rates as high as in New York City three months ago.

Abbott’s executive order on Thursday suspended elective surgeries in the state’s largest cities to free up hospital space. It permits already-open businesses to operate, but only at their current, reduced occupancy limits.

Abbott had been quick to follow the lead of President Donald Trump, encouraging businesses to operate despite the pandemic and overruling local efforts to enact stringent controls. Thursday’s measures were the first indication that the Republican governor is willing to scale back the reopening he initiated eight weeks ago, and was the latest blow to the American economy.

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