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The spread of the virus accelerated in the Americas with U.S. cases jumping the most in almost eight weeks, Brazil reporting its second-highest daily number and Mexico logging a record rise in new infections.
Texas ordered residents to wear masks, reversing course as it reported its second-most daily infections, while Florida’s largest county, Miami-Dade, imposed an overnight curfew. The Centers for Disease Control said fatalities in the U.S. could reach 160,000 by late July. Peru became the 10th nation to report 10,000 deaths.
North Korea, which has never reported any cases, said it has halted the spread of the virus.
- Global Tracker: Cases near 11 million; Deaths top 519,500
- Life, liberty and face masks: a virus preys on America
- Rights of American workers could change after virus
- An unfestive July 4th as states call off the celebrations
- Dining out means plexiglass, planters, hand-washing stations
- Understanding the virus and its unanswered questions
- Covid-19 isn’t killing cash. People are hoarding more of it
- The post-pandemic hotel looks a lot like a cruise ship
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Mexico Cases Rise by Record (8:10 a.m. HK)
Mexico reported a record daily rise of 6,741 confirmed cases, bringing the total to 238,511, according to the Health Ministry. Deaths rose 679 to 29,189. The increase in cases comes a day after Mexico overtook Spain to become the country with the world’s sixth-deadliest virus outbreak.
Earlier, deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez Gatell told The Washington Post that Mexico’s capital registered about three times as many deaths as it normally does from March through May, bolstering concerns that the nation’s official statistics on the virus don’t accurately reflect the full scale of the health crisis.
The city registered an average of 18,533 deaths from March to May in the 2016 to 2018 period, according to researchers at Nexos magazine.
Miami-Dade Orders Overnight Curfew (7:05 a.m. HK)
Miami-Dade, Florida’s largest county, is implementing a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew and rolling back the reopening of movie theaters, arcades, casinos and bowling alleys, among other places of entertainment, Mayor Carlos Gimenez said in a statement.
The curfew order exempts essential workers including first responders and hospital workers.
Gimenez said hospitals are observing an “uptick in patients, and our medical professionals are seeing a rise in 18-to 34-year-olds who are getting extremely sick,” according to the statement.
Chicago Targets 15 States for Quarantine (6:30 a.m. HK)
Chicago ordered travelers entering or returning to the city from states with surging cases to quarantine for 14 days, starting July 6, Allison Arwady, public health commissioner, said in a statement Thursday. The order applies to states with a rate greater than 15 cases per 100,000 residents per day, over a 7-day average.
The states: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah. New cases and death rates in Chicago and Illinois dropped from their peaks and both entered Phase 4 of the state’s five-part reopening plan on June 26.
Twitter Joins Mask Debate With Edit-Button Tease (6:17 a.m. HK)
Twitter waded into the mask debate with a post that promised users a button that would allow users to edit tweets after publication – a feature the company has said it would probably never introduce — but only if “everyone wears a mask” to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
CDC: U.S. Deaths at 140,000-160,000 by July 25 (6:05 a.m. HK)
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention forecast as many as 160,000 deaths by July 25, with 11 states expected to register more deaths in the next four weeks than the previous four.
New deaths in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wyoming will likely exceed the number of the past month, according to state-level ensemble forecasts. For other states, new death total are expected to be similar to the previous four weeks or to decrease slightly.
Kim Says North Korea Halted Virus (6 a.m. HK)
North Korea “thoroughly prevented” the spread of a disease that caused “the worldwide health crisis” but must guard against complacency, the state news agency KCNA reported, citing leader Kim Jong Un at a party meeting. The report doesn’t specifically mention Covid-19 but refers to “the malignant contagious disease.”
Kim offered “sharp criticism” of inattention by officials in the “protracted” fight against the disease, according to the report. “He repeatedly warned that hasty relief of anti-epidemic measures will result in unimaginable and irretrievable crisis,” KCNA reported.
While North Korea hasn’t confirmed any cases of the disease, the announcement from Kim and a plea during the meeting to speed up construction of a hospital in the capital are the latest indications that the country has not avoided contamination.
Brazil Cases Rise 3.3% (5:50 p.m. NY)
Brazil registered 48,105 new cases, the second-most for a single day and a 3.3% rise from a day earlier, pushing the national total to 1,496,858, according to Health Ministry data. Deaths increased by 1,252 for a toll of 61,884.
The country’s biggest jump in cases was 54,771 on June 19.
U.S. Businesses Push for Mask Requirements (5:30 p.m. NY)
Top U.S. trade groups urged President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and governors to issue guidelines on wearing masks, citing the economic risk from Covid-19’s accelerating spread.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Retail Federation, the Business Roundtable and others sent a letter Thursday, a day after Trump offered limited praise for masks but suggested they needn’t be required. The president has put little emphasis on masks despite evidence they help combat the spread.
“Absent stronger measures to prevent transmission, communities across America risk another round of shutdowns, broad restrictions on non-essential activities, and irreparable economic harm,” said the organizations, which generally view federal regulation skeptically.
Peru Tops 10,000 Deaths (5:25 p.m. NY)
Peru’s death toll exceeded 10,000 on Thursday — the 10th nation to reach the milestone — as the government pressed ahead with a plan to reopen the economy. The country reported 185 fatalities in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 10,045, less than 16 weeks after reporting its first virus death. In all, 292,002 have been infected in the nation of 32 million, according to the Health Ministry.
In Latin America, the current epicenter of the pandemic, only Brazil and Mexico have reported more deaths.
Texas Cases Rise Tops 7-Day Average (5 p.m. NY)
Texas recorded its second-worst day of the pandemic with 7,915 new cases, according to state health department data on Thursday. The 4.7% growth rate surpassed the seven-day average of 4.2%. That followed Wednesday’s record tally of 8,076 new diagnoses.
Virus-related hospitalizations expanded by 6.9% to 7,382, the data showed, as medical facilities in Houston and elsewhere showing increasing signs of strain. Fatalities rose by 1.8% to 2,525.
Texas Issues Mask Order (4:30 p.m. NY)
Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered residents to wear face coverings amid a spike in cases in the second-most populous U.S. state.
In a reversal of his months-long opposition to such a mandate, Abbott, an ally of President Donald Trump, on Thursday said the order applies to all counties with 20 or more virus cases. He also barred people from gathering in groups larger than 10.
The Republican governor has been under growing pressure from Democratic mayors and county leaders to crack down or at least grant them authority to mandate masks and other restrictions.
U.S. Cases Rise the Most Since May 9 (4 p.m. NY)
Coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose by 56,800 from a day earlier to 2.72 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. The 2.1% increase was higher than the average daily increase of 1.7% over the past week and the biggest jump since May 9. Deaths rose 0.6% to 128,439.
- Florida reported 169,106 cases, up 6.4% from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 5.6% in the previous seven days.
- Arizona reported 3,333 new cases, an increase of 4% to 87,425. Deaths increased by 37, to a total of 1,757.
- California cases rose 1.7% to 240,195 while deaths rose 1.2% to 6,163, according to the state’s website.
N.J. Doubles Outdoor Gathering Limit (4 p.m. NY)
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy doubled the state’s outdoor gathering limit, to 500, starting Friday morning. Outdoor religious services and political activities, such as demonstrations, have no cap. Indoors, the crowd maximum remains 25% of a space’s capacity, with 100 people at most.
Murphy this week indefinitely delayed lifting a ban on indoor dining, which was to restart on Thursday, citing “knucklehead” non-distancing behavior at New Jersey outdoor establishments and spiking cases nationally. New Jersey reported 13,251 dead who tested positive for the novel coronavirus and another 1,854 fatalities with a probable but untested link.
Djokovic, Wife Test Negative (3:15 p.m. NY)
Novak Djokovic and his wife tested negative for the coronavirus, his media team said Thursday, 10 days after announcing they had contracted the disease, the Associated Press said.
The top-ranked player tested positive after playing in an exhibition series he organized in Serbia and Croatia. No social distancing was observed at the matches in Belgrade and Zadar, Croatia. Both were in self-isolation in the Serbian capital since testing positive, the statement said.
Other players to come down with the virus after participating in the matches in Belgrade and Zadar were Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki.
Covid-19 Mutation May Enable Spread (2:10 p.nm. NY)
The novel coronavirus is showing some signs of mutating in a way that may make it easier to spread, according to Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Research currently underway suggests a single mutation is emerging that lets the virus replicate better and create a higher viral load, measures that could make it easier to transmit, Fauci said at an online event Thursday hosted by the Journal of the American Medical Association.
There is some dispute about the findings and it’s not clear whether people who become infected with a newer variation of the pathogen fare worse than those with the original strain, he said. “It just seems that the virus replicates better and may be more transmissible,” he said. “This is still at the stage of trying to confirm that.”
Moderna Sets Human Trial for Vaccine (1:40 p.m. NY)
Drug-maker Moderna Inc. said a 30,000-patient trial of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate will start late this month, although a Stats News article earlier Thursday said the work had been expected to begin next week. Shares fell as much as 9.4% after the report. Company spokesman Ray Jordan confirmed to Bloomberg the trial should start in or by late July, which he said is consistent with the window previously communicated. The company is “working through finalizing of sites,” he said.
Stats earlier said Moderna is making changes to the trial, which delayed the start date, and investigators told the news site that changes are common.
Houston May Tap Surge ICU Beds (12:40 p.m. NY)
Houston posted a 4.3% increase in Covid-19 patients in intensive care, and at the current rate of expansion the city’s hospitals will have to tap a second tranche of so-called surge beds on July 14, according to the Texas Medical Center.
In the first phase of surge capacity, 5.4% of the 373 beds already are occupied after the normal ICU space was overwhelmed earlier this week, the medical center said on its website on Thursday. The second phase has 504 beds available. To be sure, 62% of the city’s ICU capacity is occupied by non-virus patients.
Trump: Three Vaccine Candidates ‘Really Good’ (12:10 p.m. NY)
Three vaccine candidates are “looking really, really good” in trials, President Donald Trump said Thursday at a White House event showcasing small businesses. Trump said three more vaccines will begin trials “shortly,” without elaborating.
The military is standing by, ready to distribute the vaccines, Trump said. A vaccine will be out “soon,” the president said.
GOP Lawmaker Urges End of Task Force (12:35 p.m. NY)
An influential U.S. House Republican from Arizona, which is enduring one of the worst Covid-19 spikes, urged President Donald Trump to disband the White House coronavirus task force because he said it’s hindering the economic recovery.
Scientists are causing an unnecessary “panic,” Representative Andy Biggs, who represents the suburbs east of Phoenix, said in a statement. “Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx continue to contradict many of President Trump’s stated goals and actions for returning to normalcy as we know more about the Covid-19 outbreak,” said Biggs, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservatives whom Trump often consults.
Arizona Cases Climb 4% (11:50 a.m. NY)
Arizona reported 3,333 new cases Thursday, an increase of 4% to 87,425. The number of deaths increased by 37, to a total of 1,757, the Department of Health Services said.
The state registered a record-high 4,878 daily infections and 88 new deaths Wednesday. Vice President Mike Pence visited Arizona the same day but didn’t mention the record figures. He said he was optimistic as the number of “fatalities are declining across the country.”
Nashville Reverses on Reopening (10:45 a.m. NY)
Tennessee’s Davidson County, which includes Nashville, reversed course after reporting a one-day record for new cases and will close socially driven businesses such as event and entertainment venues, Mayor John Cooper said in a statement.
Restaurants can remain open but must cut capacity to 50% from 75%, he said, noting the rate of new cases fell while bars and eating places were at half capacity. The city — a popular U.S. tourist attraction — will operate under the rules for several weeks, he said.
— With assistance by Steve Geimann, Joe Carroll, Jordan Fabian, Elise Young, and Shruti Singh
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