Arkansas pool party sparks surge in Covid-19 cases, other states also record spike after Memorial Day weekend
Some Americans ended the Memorial Day weekend on a high note, flocking beaches, restaurants and parks — minus social distancing practices. States began relaxing restrictions prematurely. The consequences did not take long to notice. Covid-19 cases are already surging in Arkansas and other parts of the country.
A high school swim party in Arkansas proved to be a perfect hunting ground for the new coronavirus. Several attendees soon caught the infection. "A high school swim party that I'm sure everybody thought was harmless. They're young, they're swimming, they're just having activity and positive cases resulted from that," Governor Asa Hutchinson, told reporters on May 23.
Then, on the Memorial Day weekend, another swim party at Missouri's Lake of the Ozark raised eyebrows. A video captured Americans enjoying themselves in a packed pool. Social distancing was forgotten in other states such as Florida, Maryland, Georgia, Virginia, and Indiana, according to reports.
Earlier, health experts warned of a possible spike if people step out without protective measures. Ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, Dr Anthony Fauci encouraged Americans to go out but stressed on masking up and practicing social distancing.
Other experts reminded people that the US is still under the grips of the new coronavirus. "With the country starting to open up this holiday weekend, I again remind everyone that the coronavirus is not yet contained," said Dr. Stephen M Hahn, commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). "It is up to every individual to protect themselves and their community. Social distancing, hand washing and wearing masks protect us all," he added.
Arkansas reported 163 new cases on Saturday. The state has more than 6,022 confirmed cases, as of May 25. Following the Arkansas school swim party, Governor Hutchinson said the incident should encourage people to discipline themselves. "During this Memorial (Day) weekend, we want to be out and we want to enjoy ourselves, we want to remember this holiday and those that have served our country and given their lives in service of our country. But let's be safe and let's be disciplined at the same time," Hutchinson said.
According to the Governor, the rise is due to increased testing. The state has never been under a stay-at-home order because of its low-dense population. Coronavirus cases in other parts of the US are also on the rise. According to White House coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx, Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Nebraska and Illinois are recording a high number of infections.
States such as North Carolina and Arkansas are witnessing a major spike, Dr Seema Yasmin, a former disease detective at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CNN. "Look at the numbers. You'll see that on Thursday, more than 20,000 Americans were infected," she said. And then, on Friday, "that number went up, and there were more than 24,000 Americans newly diagnosed with Covid-19."
The country has confirmed 1,662,302 cases, data from Johns Hopkins University suggests. The number of deaths is inching closer to 100,000. The premature reopening of states has caused some damage. Two Missouri hairstylists, who worked for up to eight days despite having Covid-19 symptoms before testing positive, have potentially exposed 140 customers to the new coronavirus, health officials said.
"The bottom line is a lot of states are now reopening activity against a backdrop that does not meet the criteria that the White House set out in terms of when it would be safe to reopen," the former FDA Commissioner Dr Scott Gottlieb, told CNBC last week. "We are going to see cases go up now that we are reopening," he added.