Vice President Mike Pence has postponed campaign events scheduled for Arizona and Florida this week as coronavirus cases jump in those states, a senior Trump campaign official said Saturday.
Pence, the leader of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, still plans to travel to both states, as well as to Texas today, to meet with governors and health care officials, a White House official said.
Today, Pence is scheduled to meet with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and to talk to reporters after speaking at a Celebrate Freedom Rally at a Baptist church in Dallas -- an event that his office said will honor "America's freedom and spiritual foundation."
But the vice president was due to speak at events in Tucson, Ariz., and Sarasota, Fla., later in the week as part of the Trump campaign's "Faith in America" tour. A campaign official said those events were postponed out of an abundance of caution.
All three states have been among the hardest-hit as a wave of covid-19 cases crashes across the Sun Belt, weeks after the worst of the virus subsided in states such as New York, New Jersey and Illinois.
Florida had 8,924 new cases Friday, but that record high stood for just a day; on Saturday, state health officials reported more than 9,500 new cases.
Texas saw 5,706 on Friday, while Arizona had 3,378, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News.
The Republican-run states were among the first to lift stay-at-home orders in their leaders' effort to restart local economies.
In many states and counties, the pandemic unfolded on their television screens, not on their doorsteps. But now, some places that appeared to have avoided the worst are seeing surges of infections, as worries shift from major cities to rural areas.
While much of the focus of concern that the United States is entering a dangerous new phase has been on the big Sun Belt states that are reporting thousands of new cases a day, the worrying trend is also happening in places like Kansas, where livestock outnumber people.
In early June, Kansas looked to be bringing its outbreak under control, but its daily reported case numbers have more than doubled in recent weeks. On June 5, the seven-day average for daily new cases hovered at around 96; by Friday, that figure was 211.
As cases rise, the U.S. Army commander at Fort Riley in the state's northeast ordered his soldiers to stay out of a popular nearby restaurant and bar district after 10 p.m.
Idaho and Oklahoma have seen similarly large percentage increases over the same three-week period, albeit from low starting points. In Oklahoma, the seven-day average for daily new cases climbed from about 81 to 376; Idaho's jumped from around 40 to 160.
Many rural counties in states including Arkansas, California, Missouri, Kansas, Texas and Florida saw their confirmed cases more than double in a week, from June 19 to Friday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Hot Spring County went from 46 cases to 415. Lassen County, Calif., went from just nine cases to 172. Both spikes were attributed to outbreaks at prisons.
Cases in McDonald County, Mo., more than tripled after Tyson Foods conducted facilitywide testing at a chicken plant there.
Missouri overall is seeing a worrying trend, and Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas ordered employees and patrons of businesses to wear masks when 6 feet of separation isn't possible.
"Case numbers in Kansas City continue to rise, and we are taking all steps we can to ensure public health and safety," the Democrat said Friday.
Across the state line, Kansas City, Kan., and the county it's in also decided to order that masks be worn in public starting Tuesday.Gallery: Coronavirus scenes, 6-27-2020
But many politicians, even those in places with spiking cases, have been hesitant to issue such orders. The subject has become a political lightning rod, with Democrats more likely than Republicans to use them.
SPIKE IN U.S.
Still, the biggest spikes in infections have been seen in the West and South.
Florida and Texas have both recently pulled back on their reopening plans. Nevada, meanwhile, reported Saturday that there were nearly 1,100 new confirmed cases in one day, nearly double the state's previous single-day record.
While the rise in the U.S. partly reflects expanded testing, experts say there is ample evidence that the scourge is making a comeback, including rising deaths and hospitalizations in parts of the country and higher percentages of virus tests coming back positive.
Deaths are running at about 600 per day, down from a peak of around 2,200 in mid-April. Some experts have expressed doubt that deaths will return to that level because of advances in treatment and because many infections are happening in younger adults, who are more likely than older ones to survive.
The resurgence in the U.S. has drawn concern from abroad. The European Union is almost certain to bar Americans in the short term from entering the bloc, which is currently drawing up new travel rules, EU diplomats confirmed Saturday.
AROUND THE WORLD
• German Chancellor Angela Merkel cautioned Saturday that the pandemic is far from over. "The risk posed by the virus is still serious," she said. "It's easy to forget because Germany has gotten through the crisis well so far, but that doesn't mean we are protected."
• Britain was expected to scrap a 14-day quarantine requirement for people returning from abroad in a bid to make summer vacation travel possible. Only travelers from "red" zones, places with a high level of covid-19 cases, will be told to self-isolate.
• Egypt on Saturday lifted many restrictions, reopening cafes, clubs, gyms and theaters after more than three months of closure, despite a continued upward trend in new infections.
• India reported more than 18,000 new cases, pushing its total above the half-million mark, the fourth-highest globally behind the U.S., Brazil and Russia.
• South Korea, where a resurgence in the past month threatens to erase the country's earlier success, reported 51 new cases, including 35 in the Seoul metropolitan area.
• China saw an uptick in cases, a day after authorities said they expected an outbreak in Beijing to be brought under control soon. The National Health Commission reported 17 new cases in the nation's capital, the most in a week, among 21 nationwide.
Information for this article was contributed by Don Babwin, Paul J. Weber and staff members of The Associated Press; and by Jordan Fabian of Bloomberg News.