Today's Paper Latest Story ideas Coronavirus The Article iPad Core Values Weather Newsletters Obits Puzzles Archive
ADVERTISEMENT

Infections surge around U.S.

Daily cases now exceed 26,000; masks point of contention by Compiled by Democrat-Gazette Staff From Wire Reports | June 23, 2020 at 7:24 a.m.
Agustina Canamero, 81, and Pascual Perez, 84, embrace and kiss Monday through a plastic screen at a nursing home in Barcelona, Spain, after a nationwide coronavirus lockdown separated them for 102 days. The couple have been married for 59 years. More photos at arkansasonline.com/623virus/. (AP/Emilio Morenatti)

Over the weekend, the virus seemed to be everywhere at once: Several campaign staff members who helped set up President Donald Trump's rally in Tulsa tested positive, as did 23 Clemson University football players in South Carolina. At least 30 members of the Louisiana State University team were isolated after becoming infected or coming into contact with someone who was. Meatpacking plants also were hit with outbreaks.

"It is snowballing. We will most certainly see more people die as a result of this spike," said Dr. Marc Boom, CEO and president of Houston Methodist Hospital, noting that the number of covid-19 hospital admissions has tripled since Memorial Day to more than 1,400 across eight hospital systems in the Houston metropolitan area.

He warned that hospitals could be overwhelmed in three weeks, and he pleaded with people to cover their faces and practice social distancing.

[CORONAVIRUS: Click here for our complete coverage » arkansasonline.com/coronavirus]

"It is possible to open up at a judicious pace and coexist with the virus, but it requires millions and millions of people to do the right thing," Boom said.

Texas is among a number of states -- including Arizona, Alabama, Florida and South Carolina -- whose governors have resisted statewide mask requirements, leaving the matter to local authorities.

The number of new coronavirus cases across the country per day has reached more than 26,000, up from about 21,000 two weeks ago, according to an Associated Press analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. More than 2.3 million confirmed cases and more than 120,000 deaths in the U.S. have been blamed on the virus, the highest toll in the world.

[EMAIL SIGNUP: Form not appearing above? Click here to subscribe to updates on the coronavirus » arkansasonline.com/coronavirus/email/]

In Georgia, the number of people hospitalized rose to 1,000, erasing a month's worth of progress.

Infections are at their highest level since the outbreak began, nearly two months after Georgia began lifting restrictions on businesses. Gov. Brian Kemp has required face coverings by waiters, barbers and others working face to face with customers but has largely let businesses decide whether customers must wear masks.

In Orlando, Fla., 152 coronavirus cases were linked to one bar near the University of Central Florida, said Dr. Raul Pino, a state health officer.

"A lot of transmission happened there," Pino said. "People are very close. People are not wearing masks. People are drinking, shouting, dancing, sweating, kissing and hugging -- all the things that happen in bars. And all those things that happen are not good for covid-19."

Although he asked health officials to renew calls for people to wear masks and keep their distance, Gov. Ron DeSantis has not signaled he will retreat from reopening the state after three months of shutdowns that have damaged the economy.

LOUISIANA HOLDS OFF

Louisiana, however, won't be easing its restrictions on businesses because of a troubling recent uptick in cases, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Monday as the state exceeded the grim mark of 3,000 deaths.

The Democratic governor said he'll keep in place the current limitations on restaurants, bars, retailers and other businesses that he enacted June 5, which were set to expire Friday. He's extending the restrictions until July 24.

Edwards was considering moving Louisiana from Phase Two to Phase Three of reopening under the White House guidelines. But he decided against the move after the latest surge and particularly because of virus-related hospitalizations over the past two weeks, a trend that can be traced back to the Memorial Day holiday.

"This remains a very contagious disease. It only takes a few careless people to change the course of our trajectory," Edwards said. "There are a lot of people out there saying they are done with this virus. Well, the virus isn't done with us."

The regulations that will be renewed keep churches, restaurants, coffee shops, bars with a food permit, gyms, hair and nail salons, museums and other businesses limited to 50% capacity. Bars that don't have a food permit will remain limited to 25% occupancy.

Massage facilities, bowling alleys, casinos, public pools and tattoo shops have their own restrictions. Employees interacting with the public will still be required to wear masks.

The Edwards administration is bolstering efforts to ensure business compliance with the restrictions. Rather than just investigate complaints, the governor said his administration will be doing spot checks and could suspend permits for businesses that aren't following the rules.

"The vast majority of businesses are operating responsibly," Edwards said. "But we need to make sure that the rest do as well."

Louisiana is nowhere near its height of covid-19 cases in early April, when public-health officials and the governor worried the New Orleans region was at risk of exceeding its available hospital beds and running out of ventilators. But Edwards said he wants to make sure the state continues to avoid that scenario.

WHITE HOUSE LETTING UP

In Washington, the White House is cutting back on screening visitors for the coronavirus as the president pushes to reopen the country.

"In conjunction with Washington, D.C., entering Phase Two today, the White House is scaling back complex-wide temperature checks," White House spokesman Judd Deere said Monday in a statement.

The White House had been conducting temperature checks in a makeshift medical tent at the press entrance since March. The tent was gone Monday, as Washington entered its second phase of reopening, allowing businesses such as restaurants and gyms to open under limited conditions.

"In addition to social distancing, hand sanitizer, regular deep cleaning of all work spaces, and voluntary facial coverings, every staff member and guest in close proximity to the president and vice president is still being temperature checked, asked symptom histories, and tested for COVID-19," Deere said.

A notice posted in the briefing room lists symptoms and recommends social distancing.

Meanwhile, Trump said Monday that the United States has done "too good a job" on testing, even as his staff insisted the president was only joking when he said over the weekend that he had instructed aides to "slow the testing down, please."

[Gallery not loading above? Click here for more photos » arkansasonline.com/623virus/]

The president's comments at the Tulsa rally on Saturday brought quick rebukes from the campaign of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as well as scores of Democratic lawmakers.

In an interview with Scripps for its local TV stations, Trump was asked Monday whether he did indeed tell aides to "slow it down." He did not directly answer the question.

"If it did slow down, frankly, I think we're way ahead of ourselves, if you want to know the truth," Trump said. "We've done too good a job," adding that the reason the U.S. has more coronavirus cases is that it does more testing.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said any suggestion that testing has been curtailed is not rooted in fact, saying Trump made the slow-it-down comment "in jest."

She said Trump's comments were an effort to criticize the media for its coverage of the virus and its "failure" to understand that "when you test more, you also find more cases."

LESS NYC BUSTLE

Even as offices across New York City were allowed to welcome back employees Monday for the first time in months, the number of those returning to work was far lower than the swarms that once jostled elbows on public transit and packed into high-rise elevators.

With the virus still a threat and businesses required to limit their capacity and ensure distance between workers, sidewalks that would typically be crammed were fairly empty. Subway cars also had relatively few riders for the start of the workweek, and parks in business districts were sparsely populated during the usual lunch rush.

"I'm really surprised this is still this empty," Jason Blankenship, an optometrist, said as he looked around a quiet Bryant Park. "I thought it would be more people than this for sure. I wonder if all these people from these offices will ever come back."

Many of those who did return to offices and stores were eager to make any step, however symbolic, toward the pre-pandemic status quo.

"It's nice to get back to kind of normal, even though it's not 100% normal," said Kiki Boyzuick, 45, who works in human resources in midtown Manhattan.

More than 100 days ago, buildings across New York City shut their doors and companies sent workers home. As the pandemic swept across the city, lockdown orders left offices dormant, stores shuttered and streets and sidewalks all but abandoned.

On Monday in New York City, two weeks after officials first began easing restrictions, a much larger reopening phase began -- one that permits outdoor dining and some in-store shopping, and also allows hair salons, barbershops and real estate firms to restart their work.

"Phase One was a big deal," Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news briefing. "But Phase Two is really a giant step for this city. This is where most of our economy is."

The move toward normalcy, the city's broadest yet, will pose a major test for efforts to keep the coronavirus at bay, with as many as 300,000 people projected to return this week to jobs that keep them in enclosed spaces for hours at a time.

Eve Gonzalez, a 27-year-old food industry worker whose job had not yet resumed, said it is too soon: "I'm dying to go out, but people's health is more important."

Photo by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A cyclist rides Monday past barriers that mark an area for tables and chairs in Pittsburgh’s downtown Cultural District. The barriers will help expand outdoor dining for area restaurants and bars.
(AP/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/Darrell Sapp)
Photo by AP
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (left) visits with a resident Monday while dining with his wife, Chirlane McCray, at an outdoor booth at Melba’s restaurant in Harlem. Monday was the start of Phase 2 in the city’s reopening.
(AP/Kathy Willens)

WHO WARNING

As global case surge, the head of the World Health Organization warned that world leaders must not politicize the outbreak but unite to fight it.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who has faced criticism from Trump, said it took over three months for the world to see 1 million confirmed infections, but just eight days to see the most recent 1 million cases.

Tedros did not mention Trump by name but warned: "The greatest threat we face now is not the virus itself; it's the lack of global solidarity and global leadership."

He added, "We cannot defeat this pandemic with a divided world."

Elsewhere around the world:

• Brazil, with more than 51,000 deaths, the second-highest toll in the world, registered a record 54,000 new cases in its latest single-day count. And nearly 1 in 3 people tested overall have turned up positive, according to the WHO.

• Saudi Arabia said this year's pilgrimage, or hajj, to Islam's holy sites will not be canceled, but only "very limited numbers" of people will be allowed to take part.

• India's health care system has been slammed, with the caseload in the country of more than 1.3 billion people climbing by nearly 15,000 Monday to more than 425,000. Deaths climbed past 13,700.

• In Pakistan, infections are accelerating and hospitals are turning away patients, with new cases up to 6,800 a day. The government has relaxed its restrictions, hoping to salvage a near-collapsed economy in the country of 220 million people.

​​​​​Information for this article was contributed by Tamara Lush, Nathan Ellgren, Tammy Webber, Melinda Deslatte, Kevin Freking and staff members of The Associated Press; by Michael Gold and Troy Closson of The New York Times; and by Justin Sink and Josh Wingrove of Bloomberg News.

Relatives of Patricio Riveros mourn after his body was brought out in a hearse at the San Jose hospital in Santiago, Chile, Monday, June 22, 2020. Patricio Riveros' son Pedro said that his father died from COVID-19 related complications. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Relatives of Patricio Riveros mourn after his body was brought out in a hearse at the San Jose hospital in Santiago, Chile, Monday, June 22, 2020. Patricio Riveros' son Pedro said that his father died from COVID-19 related complications. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
In this photo taken Sunday, June 21, 2020, an infectious disease specialist, left, takes a sample from Dr. Reagan Taban Augustino, right, now a coronavirus patient himself under quarantine, at the Dr John Garang Infectious Diseases Unit in Juba, South Sudan. The United Nations says the country's outbreak is growing rapidly, with nearly 1,900 cases, including more than 50 health workers infected, and at the only laboratory in the country that tests for the virus a team of 16 works up to 16-hour days slogging through a backlog of more than 5,000 tests. (AP Photo/Charles Atiki Lomodong)
In this photo taken Sunday, June 21, 2020, an infectious disease specialist, left, takes a sample from Dr. Reagan Taban Augustino, right, now a coronavirus patient himself under quarantine, at the Dr John Garang Infectious Diseases Unit in Juba, South Sudan. The United Nations says the country's outbreak is growing rapidly, with nearly 1,900 cases, including more than 50 health workers infected, and at the only laboratory in the country that tests for the virus a team of 16 works up to 16-hour days slogging through a backlog of more than 5,000 tests. (AP Photo/Charles Atiki Lomodong)
Shoppers pass a two meter social distance sign in London, Monday, June 22, 2020. The two-metre social distancing rule will be under review as the UK relax coronavirus lockdown measures implemented to stem the spread of the virus.  (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Shoppers pass a two meter social distance sign in London, Monday, June 22, 2020. The two-metre social distancing rule will be under review as the UK relax coronavirus lockdown measures implemented to stem the spread of the virus. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Commuters wearing protective face masks to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus line up to board a bus at a bus terminal in Beijing, Monday, June 22, 2020. A Beijing government spokesperson said the city has contained the momentum of a recent coronavirus outbreak that has infected a few hundreds of people, after the number of daily new cases fell to single digits. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Commuters wearing protective face masks to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus line up to board a bus at a bus terminal in Beijing, Monday, June 22, 2020. A Beijing government spokesperson said the city has contained the momentum of a recent coronavirus outbreak that has infected a few hundreds of people, after the number of daily new cases fell to single digits. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Maria Gomez, foreground, washes her hands at a portable hand washing station as she and Barry Molett, back, enjoy a day on Miami Beach, Florida's famed South Beach, Monday, June 22, 2020. More than 100,000 people in Florida have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, state health officials reported Monday, as public health officials reissued advisories urging social distancing and mask wearing. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Maria Gomez, foreground, washes her hands at a portable hand washing station as she and Barry Molett, back, enjoy a day on Miami Beach, Florida's famed South Beach, Monday, June 22, 2020. More than 100,000 people in Florida have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, state health officials reported Monday, as public health officials reissued advisories urging social distancing and mask wearing. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Newly dug, empty graves fill the Sao Luiz cemetery where COVID-19 victims will be buried in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Monday, June 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Newly dug, empty graves fill the Sao Luiz cemetery where COVID-19 victims will be buried in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Monday, June 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
In this photo taken Tuesday, June 16, 2020, Yakima Valley Pepsi Pak baseball players crowd together after they scored a run in their Senior Legion game in Selah, Wash. The team continues to play games despite that they are not approved to do so by the Yakima Health District or allowed under state restrictions so long as Yakima County remains in Phase 1 of the coronavirus reopening. The coronavirus pandemic is hitting Yakima County hard, with cases surging far faster in than in the rest of the state. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
In this photo taken Tuesday, June 16, 2020, Yakima Valley Pepsi Pak baseball players crowd together after they scored a run in their Senior Legion game in Selah, Wash. The team continues to play games despite that they are not approved to do so by the Yakima Health District or allowed under state restrictions so long as Yakima County remains in Phase 1 of the coronavirus reopening. The coronavirus pandemic is hitting Yakima County hard, with cases surging far faster in than in the rest of the state. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Maya Evans, right, celebrates with friend Tifffany Webster, 30, on Webster's 30th birthday during the first day of the city's phase two reopening from the coronavirus outbreak, Monday, June 22, 2020, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York. Under phase two, the city's restaurants are allowed to serve patrons for outdoor dining with some precautions and restrictions. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Maya Evans, right, celebrates with friend Tifffany Webster, 30, on Webster's 30th birthday during the first day of the city's phase two reopening from the coronavirus outbreak, Monday, June 22, 2020, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York. Under phase two, the city's restaurants are allowed to serve patrons for outdoor dining with some precautions and restrictions. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
A funeral worker places a picture of Lidia Morales over her coffin in a hearse at the San Jose hospital in Santiago, Chile, Monday, June 22, 2020. Lidia Morales' son Cristian said that his mother died from COVID-19 related complications. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
A funeral worker places a picture of Lidia Morales over her coffin in a hearse at the San Jose hospital in Santiago, Chile, Monday, June 22, 2020. Lidia Morales' son Cristian said that his mother died from COVID-19 related complications. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsor Content

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT