California has reported its second-highest daily total of new coronavirus cases and equalled its second worst day for deaths amid an ongoing surge in the United States.
More than 11,000 new cases were recorded by state officials Tuesday, a rise of 3.3 per cent. California also recorded 140 deaths, tying a recent tally for its second-highest daily figure.
The number of tests and the rate of those testing positive also rose. The positivity rate over the past two weeks has now topped seven per cent, while in hard-hit Los Angeles County, with a quarter of California’s population, that rate has soared to nearly 10 per cent.
Public health director Barbara Ferrer said Wednesday that the county is in “an alarming and dangerous phase” that could overwhelm intensive care units and prompt sweeping closure orders if not reversed.
Also on Wednesday, Texas set a record for confirmed new coronavirus cases in a single day with nearly 10,800, and Florida reported 10,181 new confirmed cases, reaching 300,000 total infections since the outbreak began there on March 1.
After a surge of coronavirus cases filled hospitals, Alabama will require masks in public starting Thursday. Gov. Kay Ivey’s office announced the rule Wednesday, a day after the state reported a high of 40 confirmed deaths.
Ivey previously called a statewide mask order unenforceable.
The U.S. is the worst-affected country in terms of infections, followed by Brazil and India. More than 137,000 people have died in the U.S. as a result of the virus, the highest of any country. As of 7:15 p.m. ET on Wednesday, the global coronavirus case count stood at 13,439,126, with 582,547 deaths and 7,499,618 cases considered recovered, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Wednesday that he’s tested positive for the coronavirus and that he is isolating at home.
The first-term Republican governor has backed one of the country’s most aggressive reopening plans, has resisted any statewide mandate on masks and rarely wears one himself.
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Stitt attended U.S. President Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa last month, which health experts have said likely contributed to a surge in coronavirus cases there.
Oklahoma also has seen a dramatic increase in the number of people testing positive for COVID-19, with nearly 22,000 confirmed positive cases in the state and 428 total deaths.
Walmart has announced it will require customers in the U.S. to wear face coverings at all of its namesake and Sam’s Club stores, making it the largest retailer to introduce such a policy that has otherwise proven difficult to enforce without state and federal requirements. The company said the policy will go into effect on Monday.
The Arkansas-based company said that currently about 65 per cent of its more than 5,000 stores and clubs are located in areas where there is already some form of government mandate on face coverings.
In a statement to CBC News, the retailer said Canadian stores will require mask wearing by customers only in jurisdictions where they are required.
What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada
As of 7:15 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Canada had 108,829 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 72,485 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 8,848.
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Ontario reported 102 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday — the fewest on any single day since March 25 — as the province gets set to relax visitation rules for long-term care facilities. Thirty-one of the province’s 34 public health units reported five or fewer newly confirmed infections of the novel coronavirus, while 19 of those 31 confirmed no new cases at all.
Atlantic premiers are indicating they’re in no hurry to expand to other parts of Canada the regional travel bubble launched this month.
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball, who had previously suggested other Canadians might be included as early as this Friday, said Wednesday that no firm decision has been made on opening up the bubble.
The comment comes one day after P.E.I. Premier Dennis King said he wasn’t looking to expand the bubble any time soon.
The Bank of Canada held its key interest rate at 0.25 per cent in response to what it calls the “extremely uncertain” economic outlook from the COVID-19 pandemic, and plans to keep it there until the picture improves. In its updated outlook, the bank expects the economy to contract by 7.8 per cent this year.
Here’s what’s happening around the world
Italy’s main nursing federation says 40 nurses with coronavirus died during the peak of the outbreak.
The National Federation of the Order of Nursing Professions released a breakdown of the deaths on Wednesday, based on reporting from its regional chapters in March, April and May.
“It’s obvious that the lack of PPE, including the FFP2 masks, was one of the principal causes of infection transmission among nursing personnel,” the report said.
The toll adds to 172 doctors with coronavirus who have died, according to a tally kept by Italy’s main doctors’ association. Both associations included retired personnel.
Bolivia’s government has been rocked by the novel coronavirus, with the president and at least seven of her cabinet ministers testing positive, straining the interim leadership and casting a shadow over a slated election rerun in under two months.
Conservative caretaker president Jeanine Áñez, who is also a candidate in the planned Sept. 6 ballot, tested positive for the virus last week, though she said she was doing well and would continue to work from isolation.
The ministers for economy, foreign affairs, mining, health, hydrocarbons and the presidency are also infected, the most recent confirmed on Tuesday. Others include Senate leader Eva Copa, who has said she was stable, and dozens of junior officials.
Latin America has become a major hot spot for the virus with around a quarter of global cases and deaths despite only having around eight per cent of the world’s population. Cases and fatalities are still rising fast.
A number of other political leaders in the region, including Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez and Venezuelan socialist party leader Diosdado Cabello have also tested positive.
In Bolivia, confirmed cases have topped 50,000, with the lowland city of Santa Cruz the hardest hit. The death toll stands near 1,900.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there will be an inquiry into the country’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic in the future, but now is not the time as the battle to combat it is ongoing.
“We will seek to learn the lessons of this pandemic in the future and certainly we will have an independent inquiry into what happened,” he said on Wednesday.
France’s tourism industry received a further boost Wednesday with the partial reopening of Disneyland Paris and the opening up of the top floor of the Eiffel Tower.
Disneyland Paris, Europe’s most frequented theme park resort, will feature enhanced safety measures including managed attendance, reduced capacity to support physical distancing, and bolstered cleaning and disinfection of rides and spaces.
Eiffel Tower officials have said a maximum of 250 people at a time will now be allowed on the top floor to enjoy the panoramic views of the city.
Some 160,000 people in the Spanish region of Catalonia returned to confinement on Wednesday as authorities scrambled to control a fresh surge of coronavirus infections in the area, just weeks after a nationwide lockdown was lifted.
A judge finally approved the regional government’s stay-at-home order for residents of the city of Lleida and six nearby towns on Tuesday night after several days of legal wrangling and political tensions over the issue.
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South Africa’s cases of COVID-19 were set to reach 300,000 on Wednesday, the most in Africa and in the top 10 in the world, despite a swiftly imposed lockdown aimed at preventing infections spiralling. The country has 298,292 cases at the last count, and with positive tests now increasing at a rate of more than 10,000 a day, it is all but certain to vault over the 300,000 mark when figures are released on Wednesday night.
At the end of March, President Cyril Ramaphosa took aggressive, early action, shutting shops, ordering people to stay at home and sending the army onto the streets to enforce it — when South Africa had only 400 cases and no recorded deaths. The government later eased many curbs over fears for its struggling economy.
But with the world’s fourth-largest daily increase in coronavirus cases in a country of 58 million people, an exasperated Ramaphosa on Sunday reimposed an alcohol ban and a night curfew.
In many parts of the country, COVID-19 wards are packed, so patients are spilling into other parts of hospitals and into tents outside, health officials said.
Zimbabwe has postponed the reopening of schools scheduled for the end of this month, citing rising numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government had insisted on a phased reopening of schools despite resistance from teachers’ unions, who argued the move would endanger pupils and teachers because of lack of adequate planning and personal protective gear such as face masks and sanitizers.
Also, physical distancing would be nearly impossible in many schools where up to 70 pupils are often crammed into small classrooms, the unions said. Many schools, like much of the country, have no running water, making it difficult for pupils, teachers and other school workers to practise hygiene methods such as handwashing.
Confirmed coronavirus cases reached 1,064 Wednesday and 20 deaths, up from seven at the end of June.
Tokyo raised its coronavirus alert to the highest “red” level on Wednesday, alarmed by a recent spike in daily new cases to record highs, with Gov. Yuriko Koike describing the situation in Japan’s capital as “rather severe.”
In Tokyo, daily virus cases exceeded 200 in four of the past seven days, touching an all-time high of 243 last Friday as testing among nightclub workers in its red-light districts showed rising infections among people in their 20s and 30s. Health experts noted Tokyo hospitals were getting crowded as the number of patients doubled from the previous week.
“We are in a situation where we should issue warnings to citizens and businesses,” Koike told a press conference, urging residents to refrain from unnecessary travel. The infection rate in Tokyo is at stage “red,” the highest of four levels in the metropolis’s system, Koike said, citing the analysis by health experts who cautioned earlier in the day that infections were going up quite a bit and “exceeding peaks.”
She also pledged to step up testing for the virus by utilizing equipment at universities. “My understanding is that we’re in a rather severe situation now,” Koike said.
Indian authorities will impose lockdowns in high-risk areas in nearly a dozen states as the nation’s coronavirus caseload approaches one million. A two-week lockdown starting Thursday has been imposed in Bihar, a state in eastern India with 128 million people and a fragile health system. Since Saturday, Bihar has recorded over 1,000 cases each day despite limited testing.
India’s key southern technology hub, Bangalore, where the offices of Microsoft, Apple and Amazon are located, was put under a weeklong lockdown Wednesday. About a dozen other states, including Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Assam have also put high-risk areas in lockdown, allowing only essential food supplies and health services.
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