NEW YORK, June 25 (Reuters) - New York Governor Andrew Cuomo celebrated a new milestone of declining coronavirus hospitalizations in his state on Thursday as the number of new cases elsewhere in the United States kept climbing, especially in the West and South.
More than 36,000 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded nationwide on Wednesday, a few hundred shy of the record 36,426 on April 24, concentrated on states that were spared the brunt of the initial outbreak or moved early to lift restrictions aimed at curbing the virus’ spread.
The focus of the pandemic has moved to the U.S. West and South, including more sparsely populated rural areas, from the early epicenter around New York state, where more than 31,000 deaths were recorded, more than a quarter of the country’s total.
The numbers in the Northeast dropped after governors imposed severe lockdown measures, some of which remain in place in hardest-hit New York City.
Cuomo said on Thursday that his state reached a new milestone as the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 fell to 996, the first time since March 18 that the number was below 1,000.
“Together we bent the curve,” he said on Twitter. “And we aren’t stopping now.”
The number of daily deaths in New York also has been in a long-term decline, dropping to 17 on Wednesday from a high of more than 1,000, Cuomo said earlier on CNN.
New York, New Jersey and Connecticut on Wednesday ordered travelers from eight states, as well as tri-state residents returning from those areas, to self-quarantine for two weeks on arrival.
Four states reported record increases in new cases on Wednesday - Florida, Idaho, Oklahoma and South Carolina. Earlier in the week, seven states had record highs - Arizona, California, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Texas and Wyoming.
Shares of Walt Disney Co dropped 2.4% on Thursday after it delayed the reopening of theme parks and resort hotels in California until it receives approval from state officials, as the state is hit by a huge spike in new coronavirus cases.
Disney had received pushback from unions representing 17,000 workers at its Disneyland Resort in Southern California, who said they were not convinced the theme park would be safe enough to reopen by the company’s target date of July 17.
The company has also come under pressure to delay the July 11 reopening of Walt Disney World in Florida.
Apple Inc is temporarily shutting some stores again in Texas, Florida, Arizona, South Carolina and North Carolina following the increase in cases there.
While some of the increased numbers of cases can be attributed to more testing, the percentage of positive results is also climbing. (Open tmsnrt.rs/2WTOZDR in an external browser for a Reuters interactive)
Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Writing by Sonya Hepinstall; Editing by Lisa Shumaker