Here’s what you need to know:
More than 59,460 new cases were announced across the United States on Thursday, setting a new single-day record with some numbers yet to be reported, according to a New York Times database.
It was the sixth time in 10 days that the record had been broken. The surge has been driven largely by states in the South and the West that were among the first to ease restrictions established during the virus’s initial wave in the spring.
The previous record — 59,453 — was set on Wednesday.
At least five states set single-day case records on Thursday: Alabama, Idaho, Missouri, Montana and Oregon. And at least two states recorded their highest death totals for a single day: Florida, with 120, and Tennessee, with 22.
As cases continued to rise, hospitals across the South and West have been flooded, forcing them to cancel elective surgeries and discharge some Covid-19 patients early to make beds available.
In Florida, more than 40 intensive-care units in 21 counties have hit capacity. In Mississippi, five of the state’s largest hospitals have already run out of I.C.U. beds for critical patients.
The number of daily cases has escalated drastically in recent weeks after ebbing through much of the late spring.
When the Northeast was the center of the U.S. outbreak and testing was more scarce, the country reached a single-day peak of 36,739 new cases on April 24. That record stood until June 24, when the daily total was 36,880.
Thursday was the sixth day with more than 50,000 cases recorded nationwide. All have been in July.
Key data of the day
The surge in coronavirus cases in the United States, which as of Wednesday had set new daily-case records five times in nine days, is being driven largely by states that were among the first to ease virus restrictions as they moved to reopen their economies.
Florida has seen its average new daily cases increase more than tenfold since it began reopening in early May. Cases in Arizona have jumped by 858 percent since beginning to reopen May 8. Cases in Texas have risen by 680 percent since beginning to reopen May 1.
Epidemiologists had warned that reopening could lead to waves of new infections if it was done before the virus was contained, and before contact tracing was sufficiently ramped up enough to contain future outbreaks.
The trajectory taken by many states that pushed to reopen early offers a cautionary tale.
South Carolina, one of the first states to let retail stores reopen, has seen its average daily case count rise to 1,570, up from 143 from when the state began to reopen in late April, a 999 percent increase. And in Georgia, where the governor’s moves to reopen swiftly in late April were criticized as too aggressive by Mr. Trump — who had generally been pushing states to move faster to reopen — cases have risen by 245 percent.
Now the U.S. is debating when and how to reopen school classrooms — which Mr. Trump is pushing for strongly, even as school districts, teachers and some parents express concerns — and which steps should be taken by states that have become hot spots, from reimposing restrictions to ordering people to wear masks.
Many of the states that bore the brunt of cases in March and April but were slower to reopen have seen significant decreases in reported cases since. Average daily cases in New York are down 52 percent since the state began to reopen in late May, and they are down 83 percent in Massachusetts.
There are exceptions, though. California, once seen as a model for how to contain the virus, has seen an alarming increase in new cases, which are up 275 percent since May 25.
Florida, which has been grappling with a fast-growing outbreak, set a record on Thursday for the most deaths reported in a single day: 120.
That brought the state’s death count to above 4,000, the ninth highest tally in the nation. And it raised concerns that the state, which has so far seen far fewer deaths than the states that saw the first spikes this spring, could be entering a deadlier phase.
Cases in the state have doubled since late June; on Thursday, the state reported more than 8,930 new cases. Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, said at a news conference Thursday that as testing has expanded, some labs have grown slow to return test results as they see a growing backlog of cases, leaving people unsure of whether to isolate while their test is being processed, particularly if they are not showing symptoms.
He said that the state was working to speed up the processing of tests for people with symptoms.
Even as the state continues to set records for new cases, and deaths, Mr. DeSantis continued to press for schools to reopen, which Mr. Trump has made a priority.
“If fast food and Walmart and Home Depot — and I do all that so I’m not, like, looking down on it — but if all that is essential, then educating our kids is absolutely essential,” he said. “And they have been put to the back of the line in some respects.”
The virus continues to upend life in Florida. At one Miami television station, WPLG Local 10, at least nine employees, including a news anchor, have come down with Covid-19 or tested positive, and another 150 people linked to the station were awaiting test results.
In a report broadcast on Wednesday, the anchor, Nicole Perez, and her husband, Roy Ramos, a reporter for the station, were interviewed about the symptoms they were experiencing. Calvin Hughes, Ms. Perez’s co-anchor, told viewers: “This is not a political message here, this is a personal one. Please, please, wear your mask.”
At least one other state — Tennessee — also recorded its highest single-day death toll on Thursday, with 22.
Hospitals across the South and West are being flooded with virus patients, forcing them to cancel elective surgeries and discharge patients early as they try to keep beds available.
Even as regular wards are being converted into intensive care units and long-term care facilities are opened for patients too sick to go home, doctors say they are barely managing.
“When hospitals and health care assistants talk about surge capacity, they’re often talking about a single event,” said John Sinnott, chairman of internal medicine at the University of South Florida and chief epidemiologist at Tampa General Hospital. “But what we’re having now is the equivalent of a bus accident a day, every day, and it just keeps adding.”
In South Carolina, National Guard troops are being called in soon to help insert intravenous lines and check blood pressure. At the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, patients can wait as long as four hours before being seen in emergency rooms.
In Florida, more than 40 intensive care units in 21 counties have hit capacity and have no beds available. In Mississippi, five of the state’s largest hospitals have already run out of I.C.U. beds for critical patients.
Dr. Diego Maselli Caceres at University Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, said he had watched a sevenfold increase in Covid-19 patients needing intensive care over the past month, filling up three floors of the hospital instead of one.
“You get bombarded with multiple calls at the same time,” he said, referring to the “code blue” warnings from overhead speakers that send doctors and nurses rushing to save a patient in distress.
“You hear the calls and you’re running from one end to the other, just like putting out fires, and you’re trying to help as much as you can. It gets overwhelming.”
More than 1,000 employees of the Transportation Security Administration have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to data released by the federal agency on Thursday.
Most of the employees — more than 900 — were airport screeners who have been on the front lines of interacting with travelers during the pandemic. More than 640 of the employees have recovered while six have died, according to the agency.
The union representing T.S.A. employees has previously raised alarms about the safety of officers who encountered travelers, including many who rushed back to the United States from overseas to beat President Trump’s travel restrictions. Hydrick Thomas, the president of the union, said the agency had not provided enough protective gear for its employees earlier in the year.
“It should have been way less than that if T.S.A. was doing what it’s supposed to be doing,” Mr. Thomas said.
While calling the data release “an unfortunate milestone,” R. Carter Langston, a spokesman for TSA, said the confirmed cases represented just 1.6 percent of the agency’s total work force.
“TSA remains committed to the health and safety of our front-line workers and airline travelers and has demonstrated this with significant safety updates to the checkpoint experience during this pandemic,” Mr. Langston said.
The governor of Texas ordered an increase in hospital bed capacity in nearly 100 counties on Thursday, extending a ban on elective procedures to new corners of the state.
The move came a day after Texas crossed a grim milestone: On Wednesday, it recorded 119 deaths from the virus, the most in a single day in the state. As of Thursday, Texas had recorded more than 235,000 cases and more than 2,990 deaths.
The governor’s order directed hospitals to “postpone surgeries and procedures that are not immediately, medically necessary.” The governor, Greg Abbott, had already issued a similar order in hard-hit counties that include the cities of San Antonio, Dallas, Houston and Austin.
Across the state, roughly 85 percent of the 7,300 intensive care beds were occupied as of Wednesday, according to the latest state figures.
Many of the beds have been taken up with patients with conditions other than Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, as hospitals performed elective procedures that, in some cases, had been put off during the spring lockdown.
The hospital order came as Texas Republicans went to court Thursday and challenged a decision by Houston’s mayor to block a party convention planned for next week.
In pulling out of a contract to host the event at a convention center, the mayor, Sylvester Turner, said the gathering, expected to draw perhaps 6,000 people, posed a danger in a city experiencing one of the worst outbreaks in the country.
In its lawsuit, filed in a Harris County court, the Texas Republican Party accused Mr. Turner, who is a Democrat, of breach of contract and “ideological viewpoint discrimination.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, standing before a firefighting Black Hawk helicopter, said on Thursday that rising temperatures and browning grass were reminders that the pandemic is not the only threat Californians face.
The fire season has arrived.
“We are now walking right into the thick of wildfire season,” he said. “Let us take heed.”
For Californians, the pandemic compounds an already precarious summer. In Los Angeles, the mayor is warning that he could reimpose stay-at-home orders if a spike in the city does not abate. That would not work well if the home you are staying in is threatened by fire.
And in the summer, the wrong winds could blow any small grass fire out of control. Last year, the state’s largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., cut power to millions of Californians hoping to prevent its equipment — which has been blamed for some of the state’s most disastrous blazes — from sparking another conflagration.
This year, the virus has eroded California’s ability to keep its citizens safe. Sprawling, hot warehouses have become incubators of the virus. The state’s budget has been hit hard in the pandemic-driven economic crisis, so funding for 500 new firefighters shriveled to 172 instead. Covid-19 outbreaks at state prisons have depleted inmate firefighting crews from 192 to 94, Mr. Newsom said. And the normal ways of sheltering people forced to flee their homes had to be updated to accommodate social distancing requirements and eliminate buffet meals.
The state’s director of emergency services, Mark Ghilarducci, said during the briefing that families fleeing fires may be moved into hotels. Individual meals will be packed. Where residents must be in shelters, they’ll be required to wear masks and have their temperature taken.
The intensive care unit at the Papa Giovanni XXIII hospital in Bergamo, one of the Italian provinces most affected by the virus, hit a milestone this week: It had no Covid-19 cases, for the first time in 137 days.
The hospital marked the occasion on Wednesday by commemorating the dead with a moment of silence, followed by a round of applause for those who had been cured.
“Then I told them, ‘Well done, now back to work,’” said Ferdinando Luca Lorini, the director of emergency services at the hospital.
It was a slow road to a Covid-free status. Patients began arriving in February and didn’t stop. On March 16, a date etched in Dr. Lorini’s memory, more than 100 patients crowded the intensive care unit, with another 144 on ventilators in other wards.
“It’s now back to the way things were,” he said.
In other news from around the world:
India recorded nearly 25,000 new infections on Thursday, its highest single-day total, as new research showed that the country’s virus reproduction rate had increased since lockdowns were eased. India’s caseload is the world’s third-largest after the United States and Brazil, and it is averaging about 450 Covid-19 deaths a day, according to a Times database.
Australia stepped up its efforts to isolate the outbreak spreading through Melbourne on Thursday, as the state of Queensland shut its doors to people trying to flee the city’s six-week lockdown. Most of Australia is now off limits to people from the state of Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital. The state authorities reported 165 new cases on Thursday, including six infections tied to a school where a cluster has now spread to 113 people.
Hong Kong announced new social-distancing measures on Thursday as it recorded 42 new cases, another daily high this week. Starting on Friday for two weeks, restaurants and nightclubs may not be more than 60 percent full, while the number of people permitted at each table has been restricted to eight at eateries and four at bars.
A Bolivian lawmaker who claimed the country’s interim presidency last fall said on Thursday that she had tested positive.
In a video posted on Twitter, Jeanine Añez Chavez said she felt strong and would continue working while in quarantine.
She is the third Latin American leader known to be infected.
Jair Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil, said on Tuesday that he, too, had been infected. And in June, the president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, was hospitalized for Covid-19 and treated for pneumonia, a government health official said.
Ms. Añez declared herself the leader of a staunchly right-wing caretaker government in November, after the controversial ouster of Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first Indigenous president.
Since the pandemic began, aid groups warned that the virus might prove devastating for a rebel-held Syrian province packed with displaced people and hampered by battered medical facilities.
On Thursday, medics there reported the first confirmed case.
The discovery in Idlib Province came as disagreements on the U.N. Security Council threatened to lead to the closure of one of two border crossings with Turkey that aid groups say is essential for getting humanitarian aid into northwest Syria.
After nine years of war in Syria, Idlib is the only province still in the hands of rebel and jihadist groups committed to the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad. The province is home to more than three million people, most of whom have fled fighting elsewhere in the country.
The United States and other Western countries are pushing to keep both crossings open. Russia, a staunch backer of Mr. al-Assad, has argued that all aid should be delivered through his government and is seeking to limit the crossings to one.
The man who tested positive was a doctor working in a hospital in a town near the Turkish border, according to the Syria American Medical Society, which supports medical facilities in opposition areas of Syria.
Hosam al-Ali, a Syrian pharmacist involved in the virus response in the region, said that the infected doctor had been exposed to hundreds of patients and that local medics were trying to track them down for testing.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that Israel had reopened parts of its economy too early, as virus cases in the country have continued to rise sharply.
“I take responsibility for this measure and I take responsibility for fixing it,” Netanyahu said at a news conference at his office in Jerusalem, referring to the reopening of bars, nightclubs, event halls and other venues.
After forcing them to close in March, Israel reopened bars and nightclubs in late May and event halls in mid-June. But earlier this week, the government ordered them closed again.
Since late June, virus cases in Israel have soared. The nation is averaging more than 1,000 new cases per day, up from 338 two weeks ago, according to a New York Times database.
Mr. Netanyahu also presented an aid package for the nation’s ravaged economy that would expand eligibility for unemployment benefits, provide grants to self-employed people and offer relief to businesses.
The futures of thousands of international students in the United States have been thrown into question by the Trump administration’s directive that those whose classes move entirely online for the fall will have to leave the country.
The directive would affect around one million students, according to data from the 2019 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange. China sends the highest number of students — with about 370,000 enrolled in American universities in 2018-2019 — followed by India with just over 200,000 students enrolled that year.
Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have sued the Trump administration in federal court to block the directive, arguing that the policy is political and will upend higher education in the United States, and other universities have tried to ease students’ fears. The American Medical Association on Thursday called on the administration to reconsider the rule change, saying it could jeopardize the status of medical students who are badly needed in the work force.
As the reality has sunk in, outrage has grown from those around the world who are now met with the possibility that they may not be able to return to, or stay in, the United States for their education. Many are rethinking whether the choice to enroll in an American institution, despite the expertise and prestige, was worth it.
Macarena Ramos Gonzalez, a native of Spain who is nearing the end of a Ph.D. program in applied physiology at the University of Delaware, was blunt: “If they really don’t want me here — and the administration has made that very clear in a number of ways — maybe I shouldn’t have come.”
The World Health Organization on Thursday formally acknowledged that droplets carrying the coronavirus may be airborne indoors and that people who spend long periods in crowded settings with inadequate ventilation may be at risk of becoming infected, a reversal that many scientists said was long overdue.
The agency also acknowledged unequivocally that the virus can be transmitted by people who do not have symptoms.
Apoorva Mandavilli reports on the admission, which came after a push by more than 200 experts prompted the agency to update its description of how the virus is spread. The agency now says transmission of the virus by aerosols, or tiny droplets, may have been responsible for “outbreaks of Covid-19 reported in some closed settings, such as restaurants, nightclubs, places of worship or places of work where people may be shouting, talking, or singing.”
The W.H.O. still largely emphasizes the spread of the virus by larger droplets that are coughed or inhaled, or from contact with a contaminated surface, also known as “fomite transmission.” And in a longer document on the scientific evidence, the agency still maintains that “detailed investigations of these clusters suggest that droplet and fomite transmission could also explain human-to-human transmission within these clusters.”
In addition to avoiding close contact with infected people and washing hands, people should “avoid crowded places, close-contact settings, and confined and enclosed spaces with poor ventilation,” the W.H.O. has said. It said homes and offices should ensure good ventilation.
“It is refreshing to see that W.H.O. is now acknowledging that airborne transmission may occur, although it is clear that the evidence must clear a higher bar for this route compared to others,” said Linsey Marr, an aerosol expert at Virginia Tech.
Still, the updated guidance is not as extensive as many experts hoped to see.
The W.H.O. had previously maintained that airborne spread is a concern only when health care workers are engaged in certain medical procedures that produce aerosols. But mounting evidence has suggested that in crowded indoor spaces, the virus can stay aloft in the air for hours and infect others when inhaled, and may even seed super-spreader events.
It has been widely accepted for months that seemingly healthy people can spread the virusas evidence for asymptomatic transmission building. But from the beginning of the pandemic, the W.H.O. has maintained that asymptomatic cases were infrequent, and that asymptomatic transmission, while it may occur, was “very rare.”
On Thursday, however, the agency said: “Infected people can transmit the virus both when they have symptoms and when they don’t have symptoms.”
The statement provides an explicit rationale for everyone to wear masks — the W.H.O. endorsed them only in early June, long after most national governments did — and for more widespread testing even of people without apparent symptoms.
Just over 1.3 million laid-off workers in the United States filed new claims for state unemployment benefits last week, the government reported on Thursday.
Another one million new claims were filed last week under the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which is designed to funnel jobless benefits to freelancers, the self-employed and other workers normally ineligible for state unemployment insurance.
Hiring nationwide has picked up in recent weeks, and the overall jobless rate dipped in June to 11.1 percent from a peak of 14.7 percent in April. But most of the payroll gains were because temporarily laid-off workers were rehired. The number of people whose jobs have disappeared and who must search for new ones has increased.
In other business news:
Starbucks said it would require face masks inside all U.S. locations beginning July 15. It said that in some locations not under government mandates, customers without masks would be able to place orders at drive-throughs or with curbside pickup.
Sur La Table, the upscale cookware company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Wednesday. In court filings, the company said it expected to sell more than half of its locations to Fortress Investment Group, and would also shutter 51 of its 121 U.S. stores.
Bed Bath & Beyond said on Wednesday that it would permanently close 200 stores over the next two years, starting later this year. The retailer said sales plunged by almost 50 percent in the last quarter despite a surge in online sales.
As the top health official in Tulsa, Okla., suggested that a surge in cases could be tied to the contentious indoor campaign rally held there last month, the top Republican in New Hampshire — where Mr. Trump is scheduled to hold a rally on Saturday — has already said he would skip the large gathering as a health precaution.
“I’m not going to put myself in the middle of a crowd of thousands of people,” Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, a Republican, said recently on CNN. He is up for re-election in November.
New Hampshire, a state narrowly won by Hillary Clinton in 2016, is one of just two states seeing declines in cases, and officials there want it to stay that way.
Mr. Trump’s campaign said it does not have a sense of the expected turnout for the event, which will be mostly outside at a Portsmouth airport hangar. Campaign officials are “strongly” encouraging attendees to wear face masks, with the hope that will ease concerns about catching the virus at the event, but are bracing themselves for a smaller turnout.
“It’s not what we need right now in terms of Covid,” said Tom Rath, a Republican former New Hampshire attorney general.
Last month, health officials in Tulsa raised concerns about an indoor Trump campaign rally becoming a “super spreader” event and advised people over 60 years old — who are at more risk of virus-related complications — not to attend. Tulsa is currently seeing record-high numbers of new cases.
“The past two days we’ve had almost 500 cases, and we know we had several large events a little over two weeks ago, which is about right,” Dr. Bruce Dart, director of the Tulsa Health Department, said at a news conference. “So I guess we just connect the dots.” Recent protests in the city were among the events.
In other news from around the United States:
Gov. Andy Beshear announced Thursday that Kentuckians will be required to wear face coverings in many public settings, including any indoor space in which it is difficult to maintain six-foot social distancing.
Federal health officials in the United States are trying to decide who will get the first doses of any effective coronavirus vaccines, which could be on the market this winter but may require many additional months to become widely available to Americans.
Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday extended New York City’s prohibition on large public gatherings through Sept. 30, adding the West Indian American Day Parade, the Dominican Day Parade and the Feast of San Gennaro to the list of popular events to be scrapped this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
At least five states set single-day records for new cases on Thursday: Alabama with 2,200, Montana with 95, Idaho with 527, Missouri with 950, and Oregon with 371.
Mayor London Breed of San Francisco said Thursday she had tested negative after she attended an event with another person who had the virus.
Antibody results from walk-in medical offices in New York City appear to present the starkest picture yet of how infection rates have diverged across the city. In Corona, a working-class Latino neighborhood in Queens that was among those hit hardest, 68 percent of people tested at a CityMD clinic had antibodies. But in a wealthier, whiter neighborhood a short distance away, only 13 percent of people tested positive.
Without face-to-face contact and the ability to get acquainted with your colleagues in person, how can you settle into your new, remote workplace? Here are some tips to help.
Reporting was contributed by Maria Abi Habib, Maggie Astor, Peter Baker, Julia Calderone, Damien Cave, Patricia Cohen, Michael Cooper, Jill Cowan, Abdi Latif Dahir, Dana Goldstein, Joseph Goldstein, J. David Goodman, Erica L. Green, Maggie Haberman, Anemona Hartocollis, Ben Hubbard, Mike Ives, Andrew Jacobs, Miriam Jordan, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Patrick Kingsley, Michael Levenson, Cao Li, Iliana Magra, Apoorva Mandavilli, Raphael Minder, Richard C. Paddock, Elian Peltier, Elisabetta Povoledo, Adam Rasgon, Karan Deep Singh, Mitch Smith, Megan Specia, Eileen Sullivan, Lucy Tompkins, Megan Twohey, Kim Velsey, David Waldstein, Noah Weiland, Billy Witz, Will Wright, Sameer Yasir, Elaine Yu and Karen Zraick.
View original article here Source