22:17 GMT04 August 2020
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    Recent surges in COVID-19 coronavirus cases have forced several southern and western US states to pause reopening plans. The country's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has warned that infections could rise to 100,000 new daily cases if the outbreak is not quickly contained.

    Tech giant Apple has announced it will close a further 30 previously reopened stores in the US this week, as several states have seen a significant rise in new COVID-19 infections. 

    According to CNBC, the latest states to see Apple stores reclose are Alabama, California, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada and Oklahoma. They will join stores in Florida, Mississippi, Texas and Utah who closed their branches on Wednesday. This brings the total number of stores that have had to reclose to 77. 

    “Due to current COVID-19 conditions in some of the communities we serve, we are temporarily closing stores in these areas. We take this step with an abundance of caution as we closely monitor the situation and we look forward to having our teams and customers back as soon as possible," an Apple spokesman said in a statement cited by CNBC.

    This action comes as the US recorded over 46,000 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, another daily record, according to a Reuters tally.

    The New York Times database showed that the number of new coronavirus cases in the US has risen by 80 percent in just the last two weeks.

    Eight states, including Alaska, Arizona, California, Georgia, Idaho, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas reported record daily numbers of new infections on Tuesday, according to the New York Times. 

    America’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told the US Senate on Tuesday that the rate of new daily infections could more than double, to 100,000 per day, if local outbreaks of the pandemic are not controlled.

    Fauci noted that he was “very concerned”, in particular about Florida, Arizona, Texas and California, the four states hit hardest by new infections.

    William Schaffner, a professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and an infectious diseases expert, believes that the United States is at a critical point, as he suggests that the virus will continue to spread widely and cause deaths unless the population adapts masks and social distancing.

    "The cause [behind the dramatic increase in cases] is clear. As communities have opened up after the lockdown, many young adults have not obeyed the requests to wear masks, to keep social distancing and to avoid large groups. They have been careless rather than careful. This has provided ideal environments for the spread of the COVID-19 virus", Schaffner says.

    This new surge, particularly in southern and western US states, has seen at least 16 states pause or roll back their previous reopening plans. On Tuesday, US Vice President Mike Pence noted that the Trump administration would "fully support" governors' guidance to pause reopening amid a spike in COVID-19 cases.

    On Monday, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey ordered all bars, gyms, movie theatres and other establishments to be shut down again for at least 30 days, in an effort to curb the virus.

    Pence visited the state on Wednesday, as it reported nearly 4,900 new COVID-19 cases and 88 additional deaths, according to AZ Central. 

    Earlier, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis banned bars in the state from serving alcohol on their premises.

    In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott asked bars to close and restaurants to limit their indoor seating capacity.

    At the time of publication, the US - as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic - has registered at least 2,658,324 coronavirus cases and has seen at least 127,681 deaths, far and away the highest number of any country in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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