New coronavirus cases are notably rising in North Dakota, Texas and Alabama, three of the states that have begun to lift shutdown measures, but it remains unclear whether these upticks are a result of increased test availability or economic reopening.
On Saturday, Texas reported the most new coronavirus cases in a single day with 1,801 new diagnoses (the previous single-day high was 1,450 just three days earlier).
Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s communications director told ABC News that testing capacity has doubled since the state began to reopen on May 1, still, the Texas Tribune reports that the rise is due to an outbreak of over 700 new cases in the panhandle, home to many Latinos who work in area meat processing factories that have been COVID-19 hotbeds.
Coronavirus cases have more than doubled in Alabama’s Montgomery County since May 1, as the governor continues to walk back restrictions, allowing many businesses including bars and taverns to reopen with some social distance.
Though Montgomery’s rise was to be expected with increased testing capacity, healthcare professionals told the Montgomery Advertiser they are worried about hospital capacity: area hospitals have doubled patient count in the first half of May.
North Dakota has also experienced a spike in cases, with 86 new cases on May 16—the second highest after April 18, which saw 89 new cases.
68% of cases in North Dakota have occurred in its most populous Cass County, though only 22% state’s testing has been done in Cass; Governor Doug Burgum never issued a statewide stay-home order, but issued guidance on April 29 for businesses to reopen that elected to shutdown.
The United States
has doubled its testing capacity from April to May, performing about 356,000 tests per day, which is an improvement, but there is still much confusion over how much testing the country has and how much it needs, according to the Atlantic, which created the COVID Tracking Project to function as a testing database. Another key metric to look at is percent of tests that have netted positive results—about one in 10 per the COVID Tracking Project—indicating that a good number of people taking tests are sick, which suggests that there may still not be enough testing for people take precautionary tests before doing things boarding planes or visiting elderly relatives.