The United States reported at least 70,000 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, a record daily increase for the seventh time this month, according to a Reuters tally.
U.S. deaths are also rising and have recently reached the highest levels since early June, led by Arizona, California, Florida and Texas, according to the tally.
More than half of all states — 30 out of 50 — have reported record one-day increases in cases this month. Infections are rising in almost all states, based on a Reuters analysis of cases the past two week compared with the prior two weeks.
The current tally of 70,272 cases surpasses the previous record was set on Friday when cases rose by 69,070. In June, cases rose by an average of 28,000 a day, according to a Reuters tally. In July, they have risen by an average of 57,625 a day.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious diseases expert, has warned that cases could soon top 100,000 a day if Americans do not come together to take steps necessary to halt the spread of the virus.
The United States is the worst-affected country in terms of infections, followed by Brazil and India. More than 138,000 people have died in the U.S. as a result of the virus, the highest of any country. As of 9 p.m. ET on Thursday, the global coronavirus case count stood at 13,744,743, with 588,383 deaths and 7,670,482 cases considered recovered, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
In Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp sued Atlanta to block the city from enforcing its mandate to wear a mask in public and other rules related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kemp and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, in a suit filed in state court late Thursday in Atlanta, argue that Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has overstepped her authority and must obey Kemp’s executive orders under state law.
Kemp on Wednesday clarified his executive orders to expressly block Atlanta and at least 14 other local governments across the state from requiring people to wear face coverings.
Kemp’s order was met with defiance Thursday by Bottoms and some other mayors, who said they would continue enforcing the order. The lawsuit forces that showdown, resolving an ambiguous situation with Kemp denying local governments could order masks, but local governments arguing it was within their power.
WATCH | Infection control epidemiologist discusses evolving risk of coronavirus:
Elsewhere in the U.S., Manhattan’s elevated High Line Park reopened with limited capacity on Thursday after a four-month shutdown due to COVID-19. A few dozen New Yorkers wandered through the park, marvelling at the lush gardens, city views and lack of crowds.
The park, a 2.3-kilometre strip of green built on an old elevated railroad that runs along Manhattan’s West Side, was one of few city parks to close in March, in part because it was too narrow to permit proper social distancing, the Board of Directors said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said bars and restaurants in New York City that receive three “strikes” for failing to enforce physical distancing will be forced to close. Separately, an announcement on whether New York City would enter Phase 4 of reopening will be made at 4 p.m. ET on Friday, Cuomo said.
WATCH | Manhattan’s High Line park reopens after four-month COVID-19 shutdown:
Two major U.S. retailers on Thursday joined the growing list of national chains that will require customers to wear face masks regardless of where cities or states stand on the issue.
Target’s mandatory face mask policy will go into effect Aug. 1, and all CVS drug stores will begin requiring them on Monday. More than 80 per cent of Target’s 1,800 stores already require customers to wear masks due to local and state regulations.
The announcements come one day after the nation’s largest retailer, Walmart, said it would mandate face coverings for all customers starting Monday.
What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada
As of 9 p.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had 109,266 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 72,836 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 8,862.
WATCH | Labour lawyer cautions enforcing mask policies is likely to cause some conflict:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Thursday the federal government will provide $19 billion to the provinces and territories to help fund a “safe restart” of the Canadian economy.
The direct transfers will help those governments cover some of their budgetary costs over the next six to eight months as they reopen and prepare for a possible second wave.
Trudeau said the money will focus on seven priority areas, including enhanced COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line workers and businesses, funding for municipalities, a national sick leave plan and child care so parents can get back to work.
Some of the money will go toward improving the state of long-term care, tackling homelessness and funding mental health services.
WATCH | COVID-19 research targeted by hackers:
A Russian hacking group has gone after COVID-19-related vaccine research in Canada, the U.K. and the U.S., according to Canada’s cyber spies.
The Communications Security Establishment, responsible for Canada’s foreign signals intelligence, said APT29 — also known as Cozy Bear and the Dukes — is behind the malicious activity.
The group “almost certainly operates as part of Russian intelligence services,” the CSE said in a statement released Thursday morning in co-ordination with its international counterparts, an allegation the Kremlin immediately denied.
Cozy Bear has been identified by Washington as one of two Russian government-linked hacking groups that broke into the Democratic National Committee computer network and stole emails ahead of the 2016 presidential election. The other group is usually called Fancy Bear.
Here’s what’s happening around the world
Central African Republic‘s health minister is blasting the “big inequality crisis” in coronavirus testing as he sees rich countries like Britain conduct thousands of tests daily while his own struggles to obtain supplies for a couple hundred at most.
Pierre Somse told a World Health Organization briefing Thursday that “we are in a scarcity, a misery of tests” — a blunt assessment of the scrambling by African nations and rising fears as the pandemic’s first wave hits the continent of 1.3 billion people. There have been more than 645,000 confirmed virus cases across Africa.
Somse said his country of more than four million people is still waiting for testing supplies ordered via WHO.
“I believe this is due to global competition, this is well known,” he said.
The United States has conducted more than 700,000 tests daily in the past few days. And weeks ago the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus was first detected late last year, tested nearly 10 million people over 19 days.
Confirmed virus cases across Africa have jumped by 23 per cent in the past week, and South Africa makes up more than half of them. South Africa on Thursday night surpassed Mexico and Chile with 324,221 cases and now has the world’s sixth-highest reported caseload, according to the health ministry and data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Brazil hit a grim new marker on Friday as the health ministry reported the country had reached two million confirmed coronavirus cases.
The total number of cases now stands as 2,012,151, up from 1,966,748 the day before. The ministry reported that total deaths now stand at 76,688, up from 75,366. The country has recorded more than 1,000 daily COVID-19 deaths on average.
Spain paid tribute Thursday to the nation’s victims of the novel coronavirus and workers who put their lives at risk during the worst of the pandemic with a solemn state ceremony in Madrid.
Relatives of around 100 people who died during the pandemic, and representatives of medical personnel, police and other essential workers, joined King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia, government members and officials from the European Union and the World Health Organization at an esplanade in Madrid’s Royal Palace.
Spain has officially recorded 28,413 deaths from the virus, although excess mortality figures suggest the actual figure is thousands higher. The country is grappling with dozens of fresh outbreaks after it emerged from a strict lockdown last month.
WATCH | White roses, black masks in Spanish tribute to COVID-19 victims:
France reported 534 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 18 new deaths from the virus on Thursday, hours after ministers urged people to start wearing masks in enclosed public places to prevent a new flare-up of the epidemic.
According to health ministry data, the total death toll since the outbreak started reached 30,138, and the number of confirmed cases was 173,838.
Earlier in the day, new Prime Minister Jean Castex said masks will be mandatory in closed public places as of next week, sooner than Aug. 1 as announced earlier by President Emmanuel Macron.
Australia’s coronavirus hot spot — the state of Victoria — is reporting a record 317 newly confirmed cases in a day. The tally for Thursday surpassed the state’s previous high of 288 on July 10.
The previous one-day Australian record was 212 cases set March 28 by New South Wales state during the first peak of the pandemic. New South Wales reported only 10 new cases Thursday. Two men in their 80s died in Victoria in the last 24 hours, bringing the country’s death toll for the pandemic to 113.
Victoria’s government is reducing the number of non-urgent surgeries allowed in hospitals to increase beds available for COVID-19 patients. State officials had planned to restore hospitals to normal medical services by the end of July before infections began to rise in recent weeks.
WATCH | Australian PM says situation in Victoria ‘very concerning’:
Confirmed coronavirus cases in Tokyo hit a daily record with 286, raising alarm Japan may be reopening too quickly. Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said one reason for the recent rise in cases is increased testing, which numbered more than 4,000 on Thursday.
She said 760 people are hospitalized, seven of them in serious condition, while more than 350 are quarantined at hotels and homes. Japan has had fewer than 23,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, and about 1,000 deaths.
Israel reached a daily record of confirmed coronavirus cases, the country’s Health Ministry said Thursday, as a new nationwide lockdown to curb the pandemic appeared imminent.
The Health Ministry on Thursday reported 1,898 new cases of the virus. The country has registered more than 44,500 total cases. At least 380 Israelis have died of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.
India’s virus cases have surged another 32,695, taking the national count closer to one million and forcing a new lockdown in the popular western beach state of Goa, two weeks after it reopened to tourists.
The new confirmed cases took the national total to 968,876. The Health Ministry on Wednesday also reported a record number of 606 deaths for a total of 24,915.
The Indian Medical Association said 99 doctors have died and another 1,302 are infected with the coronavirus. It called for shortening of working hours for health workers following safety concerns. It also said the fatality rate among doctors was 7.6 per cent, much higher than the national average of about 2.5 per cent.
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