Some states revert to restrictions as virus cases surge

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Bartender Katie McGranahan pours a beer at the Saint Arnold Brewing Company Friday, June 26, 2020, in Houston. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday that he is shutting bars back down and scaling back restaurant capacity to 50%, in response to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Texas.(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

SEOUL – Texas and Florida reversed course and clamped down on bars again Friday in the nation's biggest retreat yet as the daily number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the U.S. surged to an all-time high of 40,000.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered all bars closed, while Florida banned alcohol at such establishments. The two states joined the small but growing list of those that are either backtracking or putting any further reopenings of their economies on hold because of a comeback by the virus, mostly in the South and West.

Health experts have said a disturbingly large number of cases are being seen among young people who are going out again, often without wearing masks or observing other social-distancing rules.

“It is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars,” Abbott said.

Abbott had pursued up to now one of the most aggressive reopening schedules of any governor. The Republican not only resisted calls to order masks be worn but also refused until last week to let local governments take such measures.

“The doctors told us at the time, and told anyone who would listen, this will be a disaster. And it has been,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, a Democrat who is the county’s top official. “Once again, the governor is slow to act. He is now being forced to do the things that we’ve been demanding that he do for the last month and a half.”

Stocks fell sharply on Wall Street again over the surging case numbers. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 730 points, or nearly 3%.

Texas reported more than 17,000 new cases in the past three days, with a record high of nearly 6,000 on Thursday. The second-largest state also sets records daily for hospitalizations, surpassing 5,000 coronavirus patients for the first time Friday.