US trends are now “going in the right direction,” said Adm. Brett Giroir, the Trump administration physician overseeing US coronavirus testing, attributing the decline in part to safety protocols like masks and social distancing.
At least 20 states are seeing a downward trend in new cases compared with the previous week, while 18 states are reporting a steady number of new cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
State leaders who have reported a leveling of new cases also attribute it to adherence to safety guidelines. In Washington state, where health officials say the rate of new cases is slowing down, Secretary of Health Dr. John Wiesman said “face coverings have made a difference.”
Despite the hopeful signs, now isn’t a time to let up or ease measures, Giroir cautioned.
“This could turn around very quickly if we’re not careful,” Giroir said. “We saw that early on after Memorial Day and the couple weeks afterward that sort of started the current outbreak.”
Texas, Mississippi and Georgia report most new infections per capita across a week
Texas led the country per capita with the most cases per day over a seven-day average as of Wednesday, followed by Mississippi and Georgia.
An August 16 White House Coronavirus Task Force report obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said Georgia was in the task force’s “red zone” for outbreak severity as measured by rate of case growth and test positivity.
The panel recommended that Georgia do more to fight the spread, including closing down bars and gyms, limiting indoor dining at restaurants and reduce social gatherings to 10 or fewer people.
“If we’re the highest (per) capita in the state right now, that’s because Texas and Florida and Arizona and some of the states that were peaking a week or two ago are on the downclimb,” Kemp said.
Georgia’s health department continues to “urge Georgians to wear a mask, watch their distance, wash their hands, and follow public health guidelines,” Kemp’s office told CNN in a statement. The state’s seven-day case average is down and hospitalizations are down, governor’s spokesman Cody Hall said Wednesday.
“The data is encouraging but we cannot take our foot off the gas,” Hall said.
How universities are responding
Already more than a dozen colleges have reported cases on campus with outbreaks traced to off-campus gatherings, athletics, Greek life, dorms or move-in testing.
The University of Mississippi said in a memo Wednesday that 15 student-athletes and one employee tested positive for the virus. Of the athletes, 11 are on the same team but the university did not say which sports the positive tests came from.
At the University of Connecticut, several students were removed from their on-campus housing after the university found they held an “unapproved gathering in a residence hall room.”
“Students were not wearing masks, closely assembled, and endangering not only their own health and wellbeing, but that of others at a time when UConn is working to protect our community and resume classes in the context of a deadly global pandemic,” the associate vice president and dean of students, Eleanor JB Daugherty, and the executive director of residential life, Pamela Schipani, wrote in a letter Tuesday to the community.
Fourteen Drake University students were asked to leave campus for two weeks after violating an agreement signed by students outlining safety protocols.
The University of Notre Dame announced all undergraduate classes will be remote for the next two weeks as the university tries to get a spike in cases under control. Michigan State University has also announced the year will start remotely for undergraduate students. In New York, Ithaca College announce remote instruction will be extended for students for the entire fall semester.
CNN’s Amanda Watts, Jill Martin, Melissa Alonso, Annie Grayer and Andy Rose contributed to this report.