MIAMI -- Arizona, Texas and Florida together reported about 25,000 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday as restrictions aimed at combating the spread of the pandemic took hold in the United States and around the world.
The face-covering mandates, lockdowns, health checks and quarantine orders underscored the reality that the number of infections is continuing to tick upward in all parts of the world and that a return to normalcy may be further off than many leaders had envisioned just weeks ago.
Alabama will begin requiring masks after the state reported a pandemic-high of 40 deaths in a single day. Masks would be required starting this afternoon for anyone older than 6 who's in public and within 6 feet of someone who's not a relative.
The rule, which makes exceptions for people who have certain medical conditions, are exercising, or performing certain types of jobs, will last through July 31.
Gov. Kay Ivey said statistics showing a precipitous rise in confirmed coronavirus cases in Alabama over the past two weeks "just do not lie."
Violating the new order can result in a fine of $500 and jail time, Ivey said, although she stressed that protecting residents, not imposing penalties, is the goal.
"We're pleading with the people of Alabama to wear a mask," she said.
In Texas, which again set a record Wednesday for confirmed new cases with nearly 10,800, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has increasingly emphasized face coverings as the state's way out of avoiding another lockdown, which he has not ruled out.
Among the sternest measures were in New York, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo added to a list of 22 states whose visitors will be required to quarantine for 14 days if they visit the tri-state region. Out-of-state travelers arriving in New York airports from those states face a $2,000 fine and a mandatory quarantine order if they fail to fill out a tracing form.
Florida broke the 300,000 barrier on confirmed cases Wednesday, reporting 10,181 new ones as its daily average death rate continues to rise. Major cities in Florida have imposed mask rules, but Gov. Ron DeSantis has declined to issue a statewide order, arguing those are best decided on and enforced locally.
Deaths from covid-19 complications also remain something to watch, as the latest report added 112 fatalities. Florida's Department of Health said Wednesday that 4,626 people have died in the state since the crisis started.
"We have broken single-day records several times this week and there's nothing about it that says we're turning the corner, or seeing light at the end of the tunnel. I don't see that in the numbers," said Dr. Nicholas Namias, chief of trauma and surgical critical care at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
In Louisiana, Attorney General Jeff Landry, who is currently quarantining after testing positive for the coronavirus, issued a legal opinion Wednesday saying Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards' statewide mask mandate and bar restrictions to combat the outbreak appear to violate Louisiana's constitution.
Edwards defended the order, in effect since Monday.
"There's no doubt in my mind that what we did is not just warranted by the circumstances we face with covid-19, it's required. And it's clearly within the legal authority that I have," Edwards, a lawyer, said on his monthly radio show.
Businesses imposed their own restrictions, too, with Walmart becoming the largest U.S. retailer to require customers to wear face coverings at all of its Sam's Club and namesake stores.
Organizers canceled the 2021 Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., because of the pandemic's impact on long-range planning for the New Year's tradition, the Tournament of Roses Association said Wednesday. But Disney World went ahead with the rolling opening of its Florida theme parks that started last weekend, welcoming back visitors to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
In Washington, a divided approach to the pandemic response spilled into public view with trade adviser Peter Navarro criticizing Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious-disease expert. Fauci called the criticism "nonsense" and "a bit bizarre." Trump stepped in to referee, saying "we're all on the same team."
"He made a statement representing himself. He shouldn't be doing that," Trump said of Navarro as he spoke with reporters before departing the White House for an event in Georgia.
Trump chided Navarro on Wednesday for the opinion piece, which ran under the headline "Anthony Fauci has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on," and the White House released a statement saying the piece was unauthorized. Fauci told The Atlantic that "I can't explain Peter Navarro" and that "he's in a world by himself."
White House officials anonymously told reporters that chief of staff Mark Meadows was "fully engaged" and found Navarro's behavior "unacceptable."Gallery: Coronavirus pandemic
Navarro apologized to Meadows on Wednesday morning, according to a senior administration official. Navarro had asked for permission to write the op-ed, and wrote it anyway after being been turned down, according to two officials.
"Peter Navarro's statement or op-ed or whatever you want to classify it as was an independent action that was a violation of well established protocols that was not supported overtly or covertly by anybody in the West Wing," Meadows told reporters traveling with the president to Georgia.
The White House declined to say Wednesday whether Navarro would be punished in any way.
Navarro, an economist and China hard-liner without public-health credentials, did not respond to a request for comment.
Fauci discussed his predicament in a series of interviews with The Atlantic this week.
Asked about the attacks lodged against him by anonymous White House officials, Fauci said he "cannot figure out in my wildest dreams why they would want to do that. I think they realize now that that was not a prudent thing to do, because it's only reflecting negatively on them."
As for his relationship with the president, Fauci said it has changed over time. While he used to speak one on one with Trump, Fauci said, "I haven't done that in a while. But a day does not go by that I am not in contact with Debbie Birx, with Bob Redfield, or Steve Hahn and others," he said referring to other members of the White House coronavirus task force. "My input to the president goes through the vice president. But clearly, the vice president -- literally every day -- is listening to what we have to say, there's no doubt about that."
Indeed, in a campaign call with reporters, Vice President Mike Pence came to Fauci's defense, calling him "a valued member of the White House coronavrius task force."
"We just completed our latest meeting today and we couldn't be more grateful for his steady council as we continue to meet this moment with a whole-of-government approach, a whole-of-America approach," Pence said.
SPIKES AND SCHOOLS
States around the country reported alarming spikes in cases, even as officials in some of the states simultaneously pushed forward with plans to reopen schools in the fall. Kansas and Missouri each reported about 900 new cases in a trend that the head of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment described as "awful." Montana also reported a record number of new confirmed cases.
At least three dozen high school students in northern Illinois tested positive for the coronavirus after some attending summer sports camps showed symptoms of the illness.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine said Wednesday that school districts "should prioritize" reopening schools, especially for grades kindergarten through five and students with special needs, but that federal and state government must provide "substantial" new funding to school districts to help.
Written by the academies' Committee on Guidance for K-12 Education on Responding to Covid-19, the guidance says that there is no way to "entirely eliminate the risk" that the virus will spread. It says that mitigation efforts can be effective but warns that entrenched economic and social inequities could be made worse if reopening is done without adequate safeguards.
It also says that there could be serious consequences for children if they do not return to the classroom after spending the past several months of the 2019-20 school year home when their schools closed because of the pandemic.
"The risks of not having face-to-face learning are especially high for young children, who may suffer long-term consequences academically if they fall behind in the early grades," and for students with special needs, the report says. It also says that the "collective trauma of the pandemic should not be underestimated."
"Particularly in the communities hardest hit by covid-19, children may have experienced the extreme illness or death of multiple close family members even as their families and communities are facing the stress of serious economic setbacks," the report said.
"While it was beyond the scope of the committee's charge to specify how schools should help students and families cope with this trauma, we stress the importance of making this kind of supportive response a priority. These efforts will need to include school counselors and other specialized staff as well as teachers."
As school districts across the country decide how and when they can get students back to campus safely, a major sticking point is emerging -- the money to make it happen.
Keeping public schools for 50 million students and more than 7 million staff members safe from the coronavirus will likely require more teachers and substitutes, nurses and custodians. School districts will need to find more buses to allow for more space between children and buy more computers for distance learning. They'll need to buy sanitizer, masks and other protective equipment. Some are putting up plastic dividers in offices and classrooms.
The Council of Chief State School Officers says safely reopening public schools could cost between $158 billion and $245 billion, while the American Federation of Teachers put the figure at $116.5 billion.
"If you don't have this money, how are you going to afford [protective equipment]? How are you going to have cleaning every day?" asked Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, a major union. "That's why you're going to see more and more districts, even when they don't have surges, staying with remote learning."
For schools in many states, high reopening costs are only one side of the coin. State tax collections plunged when much of the economy was shut in the spring. That had a trickle-down effect on school funding, typically the largest part of a state budget.
Coronavirus aid will be the highest-profile item on the agenda when Congress returns next week, including how much money to make available for school districts.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky has said funding education will be a priority.
Elsewhere, other countries imposed lockdowns and implemented new health checks at their borders.
All travelers arriving in Greece from a land border with Bulgaria were required to carry negative coronavirus test results issued in the previous 72 hours. The new rules, which follow an increase in tourism-related virus cases, triggered an immediate drop in arrivals compared with recent days.
Traffic at the crossing fell by about half, authorities said, but a line of cars and trucks was over 500 yards long as the number of tests carried out by medical teams at the border were increased.
The developments came as more than than 13 million coronavirus cases were confirmed worldwide, with over 582,000 deaths, according to Wednesday's tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Romania announced a 30-day extension of a nationwide state of alert.
And residents of Australia's second-largest city, Melbourne, were warned Wednesday to comply with lockdown regulations or face tougher restrictions.
After a surge in daily infections beginning last month, Israel moved last week to reimpose restrictions, closing event spaces, live show venues, bars and clubs. It has imposed lockdowns on areas with high infection rates, which in some cases sparked protests from residents.
Officials warned that if case numbers don't come down in the coming days, Israel will have no choice but to lock the entire country down again, as it did in the spring.
Information for this article was contributed by Eric Tucker, Costas Kantouris, Cody Jackson, Jill Colvin, Zeke Miller, Darlene Superville, Will Weissert, Aamer Madhani and Geoff Mulvihill of The Associated Press; by John Wagner, Meryl Kornfield, Josh Dawsey,Valerie Strauss and Toluse Olorunnipa of The Washington Post; and by Marc Freeman of The [Florida] Sun Sentinel.