Covid-19 Live Updates: U.S. Officials Urge Caution Ahead of Labor Day Weekend

Sister Gaia Love, of the LGBTQ group the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, explaining the continued importance of mask wearing to people sitting in a social distance circle in San Francisco ‘s Dolores Park on Friday.
Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Memorial Day weekend gatherings caused case spikes. The U.S. caseload is nearly double ahead of Labor Day.

Going into Labor Day weekend, the United States is averaging about 40,000 new cases per day, up from the rate ahead of Memorial Day weekend of about 22,000 per day.

The two holidays book-end a summer of lost opportunity. Though the country reined in a devastating surge of new infections that led to a peak of more than 66,000 new cases per day, America failed to stamp out the virus before the fall, which is expected to bring a dangerous combination with the start of school, flu season and cooler weather that will drive people indoors.

Fewer Americans are sick, hospitalized or dying from the coronavirus compared with earlier peaks this summer, promising signs that the worst surge of recent infections has waned.

But the United States is still averaging far more new cases each day than it was at the start of the summer, a stark reminder of the country’s failure to control the spread of the virus during a crucial time frame.


“We are at a very high baseline to begin with,” Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, wrote on Twitter.

The earlier spike was blamed in part on Memorial Day weekend gatherings, raising concerns that parties and travel over Labor Day — this time with more cases nationwide — could lead to a troubling surge.

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“Our state’s health and well-being rest on what Georgians choose to do over this Labor Day weekend,” Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia said on Friday during a statewide tour meant to urge caution ahead of the holiday weekend.

Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado offered a similar warning: “The virus is still out there.”

This weekend is different in at least one respect, however: A number of states have rolled back reopenings or imposed mask mandates amid mounting infections. For example, a mask order and an order closing bars remain in effect in Texas, which had neither at the start of the summer.

In Huron, S.D., the annual state fair kicked off on Thursday. The fair, which is scheduled to run through Labor Day, comes weeks after South Dakota hosted the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which drew hundreds of thousands of bikers from across the country and has been linked to hundreds of new cases in multiple states and one death.

The state fair drew more than 200,000 visitors last year, and Gov. Kristi Noem was among the visitors at the kickoff on Thursday.

“We’ve cautioned the sick and vulnerable to consider staying home and taking extra precautions,” a spokesman for the governor said on Friday. “We’re encouraged by the fact that our hospitalizations remain low and that only 6% of our I.C.U. beds are currently occupied by Covid patients.”

The fair posted a disclaimer on its website, warning that the coronavirus is a risk in any public place”