- Daily cases of COVID-19 total nearly 55,000 in the U.S.
- Texas governor orders wearing of masks in counties with more than 20 cases.
- Florida reports 10,000 new cases.
- Palestinian government orders five-day quarantine in the West Bank.
- India’s coronavirus infections surpass 600,000.
- U.K. to lift quarantine rules for those arriving from 75 countries.
As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States climbed by nearly 55,000 on Thursday — the largest daily increase any country has reported — Texas moved to make face masks mandatory in public in counties with more than 20 cases.
Under a statewide order, Gov. Greg Abbott also gave local authorities the power to limit gatherings to no more than 10 people in Texas, where coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations have been spiking.
The governor has resisted calls from local leaders for more than two months to force everyone in Texas to wear masks.
The order comes as figures show the infection curve rising in 40 out of 50 states in a reversal that has largely spared only the Northeast. The number of cases of COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus, rose in Texas on Thursday by a near-record 7,915 for a total of 175,977, the state’s health department said.
In yet another alarming indicator, 36 states are seeing a rise in the percentage of tests that are coming back positive for the virus.
The surge has been blamed in part on Americans not wearing masks or following other physical distancing rules as states were lifting their lockdowns over the past few weeks.
The U.S. has recorded 54,879 new cases, according to a Reuters tally late Thursday, topping the previous single-day record of 54,771 set by Brazil on June 19.
Just two weeks ago, the U.S. was reporting about 22,000 new cases a day. It has now reported more than 40,000 cases for seven straight days and broken records for new cases three days in a row, according to the tally.
The U.S. now has nearly 2.73 million confirmed cases of coronavirus and has recorded 128,684 deaths, the highest toll in the world, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
All but 10 states are showing an increase in newly confirmed cases over the past 14 days, according to data compiled by the COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer organization that collects testing information. The outbreaks are most severe in Arizona, Texas and Florida, which together with California have re-closed or otherwise clamped back down on bars, restaurants and movie theatres.
Nebraska and South Dakota were the only states outside the Northeast with a downward trend in cases. Governors of U.S. states hit hardest by the resurgent coronavirus halted or reversed steps to reopen their economies on Wednesday, led by California, the nation’s most populous state and a new epicentre of the pandemic.
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Starting on Monday, people travelling to Chicago from 15 states with increasing numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases will have to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival or face possible fines, city officials announced Thursday.
People coming from Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah will be affected.
The order also applies to city residents returning from a visit to a designated state. It wasn’t immediately clear how Chicago officials will enforce the order.
EFFECTIVE MONDAY: To preserve the gains Chicago has made, we’re issuing an Emergency Travel Order directing travelers entering or returning to Chicago from states experiencing a surge in new COVID-19 cases to quarantine for a period of 14 days. More info→ <a href=”https://t.co/5D7ng691f8″>https://t.co/5D7ng691f8</a> <a href=”https://t.co/CA26uT7RF6″>pic.twitter.com/CA26uT7RF6</a>
Chicago city has reported 52,569 confirmed cases and 2,611 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Both categories have trended down in recent weeks, and the city has allowed many businesses to reopen, including bars and restaurants with limits on customers.
The surge in cases comes as Americans head into a Fourth of July holiday weekend that health officials warn could add fuel to the virus by drawing big crowds. Many municipalities have cancelled fireworks displays. Beaches up and down California and Florida have been closed.
Florida reported more than 10,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases for the first time Thursday. That is six times higher than the daily count of less than a month ago. The state also reported 67 deaths for the second time in a week. Deaths per day are up about 30 per cent from two weeks ago.
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Several Northeastern states have seen new infections slow down significantly, including New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Jersey, which allowed its Atlantic City casinos to reopen Thursday, though with no smoking, no drinking and no eating.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday seemed confident the virus would soon subside, telling Fox Business: “I think that, at some point, that’s going to sort of just disappear, I hope.”
What’s happening with COVID-19 in Canada
As of 7:45 p.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had 104,772 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 68,347 of the cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 8,690.
A new mobile app meant to help with contact tracing of COVID-19 cases won’t roll out across Ontario on Thursday as planned.
The province will be the first to use the COVID Alert app, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said it should be ready for downloading in the rest of the country later this summer.
This comes as large parts of Ontario look to moving to Stage 3 of the province’s COVID-19 reopening plan, with the spread of the coronavirus remaining slow in most public health units.
Meanwhile, Canadians celebrated a Canada Day like no other as they marked the national holiday under unprecedented circumstances.
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Canada Day 2020 took place amid both a global pandemic and a growing conversation about systemic racism in society.
The pandemic forced the cancellation of high-profile events and large celebrations like the annual pomp and pageantry on Parliament Hill in favour of backyard barbecues and online offerings to keep crowds from gathering.
Here’s what’s happening around the world
The Palestinian Authority has announced a five-day quarantine in the West Bank in response to a major increase in coronavirus cases and deaths in recent days.
The Palestinian government says the lockdown will take effect Friday, and people will be required to shelter at home. A two-month total lockdown of the Palestinian territory was lifted in late May.
In the past two weeks, Palestinian health authorities have reported more than 1,700 confirmed coronavirus cases in the West Bank city of Hebron and hundreds more in Bethlehem and Nablus.
The occupied West Bank has a total of 3,045 confirmed cases and 11 deaths from the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic.
Other countries are also reporting record numbers of cases.
South Africa recorded more than 8,100 new cases, a one-day record. The country has the most cases in Africa, more than 159,000, as it loosens what had been one of the world’s strictest lockdowns.
“We have now entered a new and treacherous phase in the life cycle of this pandemic,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa warned in a broadcast to the nation.
This comes as the African continent tops 400,000 infections and deaths have crossed 10,000 as health officials warn the pandemic is picking up speed on the continent of 1.3 billion people.
The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says confirmed cases are now above 404,000 on the 54-nation continent, while testing capabilities remain low because of shortages of materials.
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Kazakhstan will implement a second, softer lockdown for two weeks from Sunday to help combat a surge in coronavirus cases, the government said on Thursday.
Authorities will close some non-essential businesses, limit travel between provinces, cut public transit services’ hours of operation and ban public gatherings. The measures may be tightened or extended later, the cabinet said in a statement.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev ordered new curbs after coronavirus cases in the Central Asian country rose more than sevenfold following the lifting of its first, more restrictive lockdown in mid-May.
South Korea says it has confirmed 54 more COVID-19 cases as the coronavirus continues to spread beyond the capital region and reach cities like Gwangju, which has shut schools and tightened social restrictions after dozens fell sick this week.
The figures reported Thursday brought the national case total to 12,904, including 282 deaths.
Health Minister Park Neung-hoo is expressing alarm over the rise of infections in Gwangju, which had one of the smallest caseloads among major South Korean cities before this week.
China is reporting three newly confirmed cases of coronavirus and says just one of them involved local transmission in the capital of Beijing.
The report Thursday appears to put the country where the virus was first detected late last year on course to eradicating it domestically, at least temporarily.
The National Health Commission says the other two cases were brought from outside China. No new deaths were reported, leaving the toll at 4,634 among 83,537 total cases of COVID-19.
China is moving swiftly to reopen its economy, but mass unemployment looms as the heavily indebted government is reluctant to spend lavishly on stimulus programs.
With new coronavirus cases in Tokyo surging to a two-month high, Japan faces the prospect of a second wave without the experts who tackled the first phase of the epidemic.
Instead, a new panel comprising a Nobel-prize winning geneticist, an artificial intelligence expert and a cardiologist will advise the government, as Japan seeks to revitalize its recession-hit economy.
The reshuffle has raised concerns among some health experts over Japan’s risk management capability as the pandemic could re-intensify.
India’s coronavirus infections surpassed 600,000 on Thursday, with 17,834 deaths, as authorities battled to contain the pandemic while easing lockdown rules, officials and the health ministry said.
Fresh challenges to protect people from the virus emerged for disaster management officials in the northeast state of Assam amid torrential rainfall, where floods and landslides killed 57 people this week and more than 1.5 million were forced to flee their homes.
Assam’s health minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma, said the state had started testing aggressively to identify coronavirus cases among villagers forced to take shelter in community halls, schools and government buildings.
The United Kingdom’s government will effectively ditch its air bridge plans and simply end the coronavirus quarantine rules for those arriving from 75 countries so that people can go on holiday, The Daily Telegraph reported.
The newspaper said the U.K. would shortly lift a ban on non-essential travel to nearly all EU destinations, including Bermuda and Gibraltar, and Turkey, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has been grappling with how to open up international travel after it imposed a two-week quarantine for arrivals, which has added to the woes of the shuttered tourism and travel industry.
Indonesia is working to produce its own COVID-19 vaccine next year, amid growing anxiety that developing countries could have difficulty getting access to a future jab, the head of Indonesia’s national COVID-19 research team said Thursday.
“The production capability and capacity of biotech companies in the world is, we know, limited, and global supply chains also have challenges,” Ali Ghufron Mukti, head of the innovation team at Indonesia’s research and technology ministry, said.
“Therefore, it is necessary for Indonesia to develop its own COVID-19 vaccine. And it will be by Indonesia, from Indonesia, to Indonesia,” he said.
The World Health Organization says there are more than 150 experimental COVID-19 vaccines in the early stages of testing.
At the end of a two-day research meeting, the UN health agency said 17 vaccine candidates are in human trials and some might prove effective by the end of the year, although the timeline of a licensed vaccine remains uncertain.
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