As Americans flock to beaches and parks, some states see surges in new coronavirus cases

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People gather on the beach for the Memorial Day weekend in Port Aransas, Texas, Saturday, May 23, 2020. Beachgoers are being urged to practice social distancing to guard against COVID-19. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

(CNN) — Just because you can go to the beach or bars doesn’t mean it’s time to let your guard down. In fact, some states are seeing new spikes in coronavirus cases.

“With the country starting to open up this holiday weekend, I again remind everyone that the coronavirus is not yet contained,” said Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration.

“It is up to every individual to protect themselves and their community. Social distancing, hand washing and wearing masks protect us all.”

Many Americans have flocked to parks, restaurants and beaches to celebrate Memorial Day weekend

In Alabama’s Gulf Shores, “there are literally thousands of people out here on the beach, and what I’m really pleased to see is that many of these folks, almost all of them, are doing a great job with social distancing,” beachgoer Steve Ricks told CNN affiliate WPMI.

Others flocked to Georgia and Florida beaches to kick off the weekend. Farther north, beaches in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware also started welcoming visitors Friday.

But experts warn the US is still not out of the woods. More than 1.6 million Americans have been infected and over 97,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.

“Even as states and some state officials rush to reopen it’s on us to make smart and safe decisions,” said Dr. Seema Yasmin, a former disease detective at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Look at the numbers. You’ll see that on Thursday, more than 20,000 Americans were infected,” Yasmin said. On Friday, “that number went up, and there were more than 24,000 Americans newly diagnosed with Covid-19.”

Track the virus

Several states see surges in people with coronavirus

States such as North Carolina and Arkansas are seeing major spikes, Yasmin said.

On Saturday, North Carolina reported its highest single-day increase of new coronavirus cases, just a day after the state rolled into its second phase of reopening.

In Arkansas, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the state seemed to be experiencing a “second peak.” He said that rise is due in part to more widespread testing.

There were still a high number of new positive tests coming out of Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Nebraska and Illinois, said Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator.

You asked, we’re answering: Your top coronavirus questions

Houston mayor: ‘We’re not equipped’ to handle surge

Texas beaches also saw crowds over the weekend after bars were allowed to reopen Friday with restrictions.

Taylor Blount tweeted a photo of a street in Austin teeming with people late into the night.

Texas is one of a handful of Southern states at risk of seeing a rapid surge of new coronavirus cases in some areas, according to a new projection model.

That model predicts that Harris County, which includes Houston, could see more than 2,000 new cases each day by June.

“We’re not equipped to handle that type of surge,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said. “We can take about 200 cases a day, for example, with contact tracing and we’re building up that program.”

“The virus is still here,” he said. “There are still people who think it’s a joke, and it’s not a joke. Things have opened up. We’re in stage two in the state of Texas so bars, restaurants, barbershops, you name it, are now open. So (we’re) nervous but we’re going to do everything we can to manage the virus.”

The projection model also shows parts of South Florida and parts of Alabama and Tennessee are also poised for spikes in coronavirus cases.

A 43rd NYPD member dies

The New York Police Department announced the death of a 43rd member from complications due to coronavirus.

Doris Kirkland died Friday after 30 years as a school safety agent, the city’s police department said.

More than 5,700 members of the NYPD have tested positive for the virus.

Study yields encouraging results

There’s a bit of good news when it comes to a possible therapy for Covid-19 patients.

A study appeared to show patients who received transfusions of antibody-filled convalescent plasma seemed to fare better. Convalescent plasma is derived from the blood of recovered coronavirus patients.

The study hasn’t been peer-reviewed or published in an academic journal, but researchers said the findings are a good sign for plasma therapy.

“We are encouraged that our initial assessment offers evidence in support of convalescent plasma as an effective intervention,” said Dr. Nicole Bouvier, an associate professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and a co-author on the study.

But more studies are needed to confirm the findings, the researchers said.

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