November 24, 2020

Bars, Strip Clubs and Churches: U.S. Virus Outbreaks Enter Unwieldy Phase

After months of lockdown in which outbreaks of the coronavirus often centered in nursing homes, prisons and meatpacking plants, the nation is entering a new and uncertain phase of the pandemic. New COVID-19 clusters have been found in a Pentecostal church in Oregon, a strip club in Wisconsin, and in every imaginable place in between.

In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at least 100 people tested positive for the virus after visiting bars in the Tigerland nightlife district, popular among Louisiana State University students.

At a Christian summer camp near Colorado Springs, at least 11 employees fell ill just before the season’s opening, leading the camp to cancel overnight stays for the first time in 63 years.

And in Las Vegas, just weeks after casinos reopened, a handful of employees from casinos, restaurants and hotels have tested positive, and frightened workers on Monday begged guests to wear masks in a news conference conducted over video.

The newly emerging clusters — which vary in size from a handful of cases to hundreds and have cropped up in large cities as well as small towns — reflect the unpredictable course of the coronavirus. They also underscore risks that experts say are likely to persist as long as states try to reopen economies and Americans venture back into public without a vaccine.

New known virus cases were on the rise in 23 states on Monday as the outlook worsened across much of the nation’s South and West. Hospitalizations for the coronavirus reached their highest levels yet in the pandemic in Arizona and Texas, and Missouri reported its highest single-day case totals over the weekend.

Even as much of the Northeast and Midwest continued to see improvement, there were signs of new spread in Ohio, where case numbers have started trending upward after weeks of improvement, and in Pennsylvania, where several counties have had troubling numbers of cases.

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