By Lisa Shumaker
June 28 (Reuters) - Hot and sunny weather in Arizona led to crowds tubing on at least one river this weekend as that state and a dozen others face the worst surge in coronavirus cases since the pandemic started.
Temperatures were expected to rise to over 100 Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) on Sunday along the Salt River east of Phoenix. On Saturday, dozens of people climbed into inflatable inner tubes with coolers and took to the water to escape the heat. Very few wore masks.
Texas shuttered tubing and rafting business on Friday and some beaches in Florida are closing again ahead of next weekend's Fourth of July holiday to try to curb the rising outbreak in those states.
The surge in COVID-19 cases has been most pronounced in a handful of Southern and Western states that reopened earlier and more aggressively, despite warnings by health officials to wait to see a steady decline in cases.
For a third consecutive day on Saturday, the number of confirmed U.S. cases rose by more than 40,000, one of the largest surges in the world. In Arizona, cases have risen by 250% so far in June and have set record daily increases seven times.
Even in states where cases have been declining for weeks, outbreaks are happening. One bar in East Lansing, Michigan has been linked to more than 76 cases, according to the Ingham County Health Department. That number is likely to rise, officials cautioned.
Just a day after he sounded a note of optimism about the U.S. response to the pandemic and said the country was in "a much better place," Vice President Mike Pence canceled events to campaign for Republican President Donald Trump's re-election in Florida and Arizona due to the outbreak, campaign officials said on Saturday.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, has criticized the administration's response to the pandemic that has killed more than 125,000 Americans. She told ABC News on Sunday that mandating the use of masks across the country was long overdue.
Global coronavirus cases exceeded 10 million on Sunday according to a Reuters tally, marking a major milestone in the spread of the respiratory disease that has so far killed almost half a million people in seven months.
(Writing by Lisa Shumakmer; Editing by Daniel Wallis)