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Coronavirus Deaths Are Going Up in Most Regions of the U.S. as New Cases Continue to Soar

Deaths from COVID-19 are going up in almost every part of the U.S. as the number of new cases continue to soar.

Over the last 14 days, new deaths from COVID-19 have been on the rise in 22 states, from California on the West Coast, to Alabama in the South, New Jersey on the East Coast and South Dakota in the Midwest.

Seven states — Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas — have all broken their own records for daily fatalities in the last week, according to The New York Times' database.

Meanwhile, new cases are still soaring nationwide. The U.S. reported the highest number of new infections — 68,241 — in one day on July 10. And on Sunday, Florida smashed its previous record for new cases with 15,300, far surpassing New York’s record of 12,274 from April 4, in the early stages of the outbreak.

Florida had also broken its record for daily deaths on July 9, with 120. The COVID-19 death toll in Florida is at least 4,241 as of Monday morning.

The national death rate is now trending upwards for the first time since April, when New York was dealing with overloaded hospitals. Nationally, an estimated 67 percent of hospital beds are currently occupied, according to the Centers for Disease Control, while several states are dealing with major shortages.

In Arizona, 90 percent of intensive care unit beds are currently in use, according to their Department of Health. In Texas, officials will not publicly share hospital capacity data, but Houston hospitals have resorted to treating COVID-19 patients in emergency rooms instead of the intensive care unit due to lack of space, ProPublica reported.

And in Florida, 56 hospitals in Florida have reached capacity in intensive care units as of Tuesday, and an additional 35 hospital ICUs have 10 percent availability or less.

On July 6, President Donald Trump incorrectly asserted that the U.S. death rate was the lowest in the world. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said Tuesday that it is a “false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death,” CNN reported.

According to health experts, as the case numbers soar, it is only a matter of time before the death rate increases as well. Dr. Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist and Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told PEOPLE on July 2 that the U.S. has gotten better at treating COVID-19, which should keep deaths lower, but that he still expects them to rise in the coming weeks.

“We have gotten better at treating patients and that's important. How much that has contributed is unclear, but in some cases, 70 to 80 percent of the people on a ventilator were dying early in the pandemic. Today, in many locations, that number is less than 20 or 30 percent,” Osterholm said. “We also now have younger people who are getting infected, and they pose a much lower risk of having serious illness or dying. So while the number of cases goes up, the number of people dying has gone down.”

“But,” he continued, “as more cases occur, the greater the likelihood is that older people will get infected, which then will again increase the number of deaths. So the number of deaths could rise substantially over the next two to three months.”

As of Monday morning, there have been 3,318,300 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., and at least 134,976 people have died, according to the Times.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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