A volleyball game at Daytona Beach, Florida on April 20, 2020.

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A Mississippi health official said that the increase in US coronavirus infections can be blamed on people not wearing face masks or adhering to social distancing measures.

“It’s not a joke…I’m afraid it’s going to take some kind of catastrophe for people to pay attention. We are giving away those hard-fought gains for silly stuff,” Dr. Thomas Dobbs said.

The uptick in infections is prompting some state authorities to reimpose bans or put a pause on lifting more restrictions.

Many say a large part of the problem is that the public is failing to wear face coverings and are not following social distancing rules.

The US has surpassed 2.5 million total coronavirus cases and observed more than 126,000 deaths since the start of the outbreak.

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A Mississippi health official has blamed the dramatic uptick in coronavirus in parts of the US on people ignoring official advice on face coverings and social distancing.

Dr Thomas Dobbs, Mississippi’s State Health Officer, said that only a “catastrophe” will make them change.

Some states, including Arizona, California, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Texas, have set records this week for the number of new coronavirus cases they recorded.

In Mississippi, which saw its daily count of confirmed cases reach record highs twice this week, authorities are  increasingly worried.

“It’s not a joke…I’m afraid it’s going to take some kind of catastrophe for people to pay attention. We are giving away those hard-fought gains for silly stuff,” Dobbs said.

His remarks were about his own state’s outbreak, but came as many other areas were experiencing similar struggles with the virus.

To some extent the increased infection numbers in the US can be attributed to officials carrying out more tests.

But other factors suggest the virus is genuinely spreading at in increased rate. Daily recorded deaths and hospitalizations are both on the rise in the worse-hit states.

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In some states, the uptick in infections is prompting authorities to reimpose bans or put a pause on lifting more restrictions.

In Arizona, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey said that further efforts to reopen the state are on hold after nearly a quarter of the tests conducted in the last week came back positive, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

The state’s hospitals are also starting to become overwhelmed: A record 415 COVID-19 patients are currently on ventilators and Arizona’s largest hospital system, Banner Health, said last week that its intensive care units will soon exceed capacity, according to the Guardian.

The chief clinical officer at Banner Health, Dr. Marjorie Bessel, has urged the public to wear masks in public more frequently and practice social distancing as much as they can.

Public officials in Texas have reimposed a ban on elective surgeries in some areas to preserve hospital space after the number of coronavirus patients more than doubled in two weeks, the AP reported. 

A bartender wearing a facemask and gloves makes drinks at Eight Row Flint in Houston, Texas, on May 22, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

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Texas was one of the first states to reopen, but it has recently emerged as a new hotspot. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has urged residents to stay at home and warned that the state is facing a “massive outbreak.”

“The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses,” he said. “This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase of opening our state for business.” 

The decision does not reverse any of the reopening measures already in place, which include permitting bars, restaurants, malls, bowling alleys, and other non-essential businesses to operate with some restrictions.

The US has surpassed 2.4 million total coronavirus cases and experienced more than 124,000 deaths since the start of the outbreak, according to a tracker by John Hopkins University.”

Some experts believe that the uptick in infections can be pinned on the country’s recent efforts to ramp up testing.

Public health officials say they are now probably finding less-serious cases that previously would have gone undetected because testing was either limited or only done on patients who were severely sick.

Private First Class Armon Ramirez from the Texas National Guard is given hand sanitizer after testing people for COVID-19 in the parking lot of Memorial Swimming Pool on May 18, 2020 in El Paso, Texas.

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The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, said Thursday that the number of Americans that have been infected with coronavirus is likely 10 times higher than the official count. 

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