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Covid-19 is more widespread than ever in the US, even hitting Americans living on islands


Coronavirus is more widespread in the US than ever before, prompting White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx to say over the weekend the country has entered a "new phase" of the pandemic.

The virus is now hitting urban, suburban and rural areas and has even spread to Americans living on distant islands. Hawaii and Puerto Rico both saw their highest seven-day averages of new daily cases on Monday, per data from Johns Hopkins University.

Nationally, the seven-day average of new daily cases is at about 60,000 and slowly declining, while deaths, which typically lag several weeks behind, are steadily increasing. For a week straight now, the US has had a seven-day average of over 1,000 deaths per day.

At the same time, the states that led the summer surge -- California, Florida, Texas and Arizona -- have seen cases plateau and slightly decrease in recent weeks from their highs. Florida is averaging about 8,448 new daily cases per day over the last seven days, a number that is actually 18% lower than the week prior.

Tropical storms and hurricanes will complicate the efforts to cope with the coronavirus, the Pan American Health Organization said Tuesday.

Tropical storm Isaias, now rolling up the US East Coast, is a reminder of how storms can disrupt public health efforts. Isaias has caused flooding and spawned tornadoes, driving people from their homes and knocking out electricity for hundreds of thousands of people.

"This is adding a new layer of complexity to the response to the public health emergency for Covid-19," Dr. Sylvain Aldighieri, incident manager for PAHO, told reporters.

"With the Covid-19 situation, we have to be prepared for a set of new challenges in terms of population that would have to move to shelters, with new challenges for implementing the social distancing, the hand hygiene, the wearing of masks," Aldighieri said.

Evacuations and power outages can especially threaten efforts to treat coronavirus patients -- and others -- in intensive care units, Aldighieri said.

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