The latest on the coronavirus pandemic around the U.S. and the world.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The number of confirmed coronavirus cases per day in the U.S. climbed to an all-time high of more than 50,000 on Thursday, with the infection curve rising in 40 out of 50 states in a reversal that has largely spared only the Northeast.

In another alarming indicator, 36 states are seeing an increase in the percentage of tests coming back positive for the virus.

“I think we are going to be in a very difficult situation for at least a month,” said Dr. Mary Jo Trepka, an epidemiologist at Florida International University, in one of the hardest-hit states.

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Workers administer COVID-19 tests at a drive-through facility Thursday in Franklin, Tenn. Gov. Bill Lee issued a stern warning to the public Wednesday as Tennessee registered its highest daily increase in positive COVID-19 tests for the third time in a week and a half. Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

The surge has been blamed in part on Americans not wearing masks or following other social distancing rules as states lifted their lockdowns over the past few weeks.

The U.S. recorded 50,700 new cases, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. That represents a doubling of the daily total over the past month and is higher even than what the country witnessed during the most lethal phase of the crisis in April and May, when the New York metropolitan area was easily the worst hot spot in the U.S.

All but 10 states are showing an upswing in newly reported cases over the past 14 days, according to data compiled by the volunteer COVID Tracking Project. The outbreaks are most severe in Arizona, Texas and Florida, which together with California have re-closed or otherwise clamped back down on bars, restaurants and movie theaters over the past week or so.

Read the full story on the surging coronavirus here.

Herman Cain hospitalized with COVID-19 after attending Trump rally

WASHINGTON — The 2012 Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain is being treated for the coronavirus at an Atlanta-area hospital, according to a statement posted on his Twitter account Thursday.

Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, shown in 2014, is being treated for COVID-19 at an Atlanta-area hospital. That’s according to a statement posted on his Twitter account Thursday. Molly Riley/Associated Press

It’s not clear when or where Cain was infected, but he was hospitalized less than two weeks after attending President Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He did not meet with Trump there, according to the campaign.

Cain, 74, was hospitalized after developing “serious” symptoms but is “awake and alert,” according to the statement.

The former pizza company executive has been an outspoken backer of the president and was named by the campaign as a co-chair of Black Voices for Trump.

“I realize people will speculate about the Tulsa rally, but Herman did a lot of traveling the past week, including to Arizona where cases are spiking,” Dan Calabrese, who has been editor of HermanCain.com, wrote on the website. “I don’t think there’s any way to trace this to the one specific contact that caused him to be infected. We’ll never know.”

Cain took part in a Trump campaign livestream before the rally with campaign senior adviser Katrina Pierson and Texas state Rep. James White.

At least six campaign staffers and two members of the Secret Service working in advance of the Tulsa rally tested positive for COVID-19. An Oklahoma-based journalist has also confirmed testing positive soon after attending the rally.

Trump faced criticism for holding the big-arena event despite warnings from public health experts that it is not yet safe to hold mass gatherings. More than 6,000 people attended the rally at the BOK Center, an arena that can seat more than 19,000.

Read the full story here.

L.A. County deputies to ticket people not wearing masks in West Hollywood

LOS ANGELES  — Sheriff’s deputies in West Hollywood will issue citations to people not wearing masks in public, ramping up enforcement of a rule that previously had been imposed largely without penalties.

The West Hollywood station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department wrote in social media posts Wednesday that the increased enforcement would begin this month.

A dinosaur in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles wears a face mask in May. Associated Press/Mark J. Terrill

“Our last option was to conduct enforcement by issuing an Administrative Citation, but the risk to community health is too great,” the statement said.

The non-criminal citations come with a fine of $250 for a first offense, as well as a $50 fee.

West Hollywood contracts with the sheriff’s department for law enforcement. Sheriff’s Deputy Grace Medrano said in an email Thursday the agency overall will continue to seek voluntary compliance but contract cities — such as West Hollywood — can set their own ordinances.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva has previously said that the department wants people to comply with stay-at-home orders voluntarily. He said deputies would work to educate people who are in areas closed during the pandemic in the hopes that enforcement would not need to escalate to citations or arrests.

The West Hollywood station’s captain and mayor could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday morning.

Trump administration official testifies: ‘We are not flattening the curve right now’

In an exchange with Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.), Adm. Brett Giroir, the government’s coronavirus testing coordinator, acknowledged that the United States is not currently flattening the curve of new coronavirus cases.

“I want to ask you, do you assess that we have successfully flattened the curve in the United States?” Kim asked during a hearing of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.

Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Brett P. Giroir testifying before a Congressional subcommittee on Thursday, July 2. Kevin Lamarque/Pool via Associated Press

Giroir responded that “we did flatten the curve during the time to flatten the curve because we expected a lot more cases.” But he added that “right now, as you know, the case numbers are going up.”

“Are we flattening the curve right now?” Kim asked.

“We are not flattening the curve right now,” Giroir said. “The curve is still going up.”

Giroir’s remarks contrast with President Trump’s repeated declarations that the coronavirus pandemic is “under control.” On Wednesday, during an interview with Fox Business Network, Trump said he believes that the novel virus will “just disappear” at some point, despite the spike in newly confirmed cases.

Airbnb moves to block party house rentals

Airbnb announced Thursday that the short-term-rental company will no longer allow some customers younger than 25 to book entire homes located near their own address. To prevent young people from turning Airbnb listings into party houses — in which users book homes in their own area to host unauthorized guests — the company will restrict the types of bookings that younger customers with few ratings can secure.

“Reducing the number of unauthorized house parties on Airbnb has always been a priority, and it’s more important now than ever,” the company said in a blog post. “With public health mandates in place throughout the country, we’re taking actions to support safe and responsible travel in the United States.”

The new policy prevents guests younger than 25 and with less than three positive reviews from booking an entire home near where they live. Younger users can still book rooms within homes and hotel rooms on Airbnb, the company said. And customers with three positive reviews and no negative reviews can still rent an entire house even in their own area.

Airbnb first imposed these rules in Canada, following a shooting at an Airbnb house party in Toronto where three people were killed. The company said that only a small percentage of its bookings report a safety-related issue and acknowledged that its age restrictions can be circumvented. But the policy has led to a significant drop in unauthorized house parties hosted by young people, the company said.

Nation has supply of 130 million N95 masks in July, possible shortage of 30 million

Government documents show that the nation faces a demand for 160 million N95 masks this month, but the supply is only 130 million, House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Wednesday at a hearing of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis on the national stockpile.

Clyburn, chairman of the subcommittee, said the government suggests decontaminating and reusing old masks, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has raised safety concerns about such a step.

“How is it possible that more than five months into this crisis, our country is still facing a possible shortage of 30 million N95 masks this month?” he asked.

Rear Adm. John Polowczyk, the supply chain task force lead at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said the supply chain doesn’t take into account what the states or private institutions have purchased. He said the numbers do not include California, for example.

Polowczyk described the numbers as a “worst-case scenario” and said they reflected that workers, including those not in health care, may think they need an N95 mask when they don’t.

Clyburn opened the hearing by bemoaning the shortages in the stockpile.

“Why is it that the greatest nation on Earth cannot get a 63-cent mask to everyone who needs one?” he said.

New York county issues subpoenas after infected partygoers refuse to comply with contact tracing

Authorities in Rockland County, N.Y., are issuing subpoenas in a desperate attempt to find people who may have been exposed to the coronavirus at a large house party linked to a cluster of infections.

Officials in Rockland County, N.Y., speak at a Wednesday news conference. Rockland County Government via The Washington Post

The party’s host was already experiencing coronavirus symptoms when the event took place in mid-June, officials said at a Wednesday news conference. Since then, eight attendees, most of them in their early 20s, have tested positive.

But those partygoers — some of whom went on to attend other parties in Rockland County, officials believe — have reportedly refused to tell contact tracers who else was at the gathering.

“My staff has been told that a person does not wish to — or have to — speak to my disease investigators,” said Rockland County Health Commissioner Patricia Schnabel Ruppert. “They hang up. They deny being at the party, even though we have found their names from another party attending or a parent provides us with the information. They do not answer their cellphones and do not call back.”

Officials believe that as many as 100 people may have attended the first party and are threatening to hand out $2,000 fines to anyone who doesn’t help the Health Department identify them.

“I don’t care who you are, who you know, how much money you make, where you live,” Rockland County Executive Ed Day said Wednesday. “I will not allow the health of our county to be compromised because of ignorance, stupidity or obstinance, or anything else.”

It’s not the first time that Rockland County has issued subpoenas to help trace a viral outbreak. Authorities turned to similar tactics last year when a measles epidemic spread through the Upstate New York community and some residents refused to comply with the Health Department’s investigation.

Smoking linked to higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus

LONDON — The World Health Organization says smoking is linked to a higher risk of severe illness and death from the coronavirus in hospitalized patients, although it was unable to specify exactly how much greater those risks might be.

In a scientific brief published this week, the U.N. health agency reviewed 34 published studies on the association between smoking and COVID-19, including the probability of infection, hospitalization, severity of disease and death.

WHO noted that smokers represent up to 18% of hospitalized coronavirus patients and that there appeared to be a significant link between whether or not patients smoked and the severity of disease they suffered, the type of hospital interventions required and patients’ risk of dying.

In April, French researchers released a small study suggesting smokers were at less risk of catching COVID-19 and planned to test nicotine patches on patients and health workers — but their findings were questioned by many scientists at the time who cited the lack of definitive data.

WHO says “the available evidence suggests that smoking is associated with increased severity of disease and death in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. It recommends that smokers quit.

Atlantic City casinos reopen

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — For the first time in 108 days, slot machines will beep, dice will tumble and cards will be dealt at Atlantic City’s casinos as they reopen amid a coronavirus pandemic.

Gamblers will not be allowed to smoke, drink or eat anything inside the casinos. They will have to wear masks while in public areas of the casino, and have their temperatures checked upon entering.

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Plexiglass barriers have been installed to separate gamblers to prevent the spread of the coronavirus at Harrah’s casino in Atlantic City Associated Press/Wayne Parry

Five of the nine casinos — Hard Rock, Ocean, Resorts, Tropicana and Golden Nugget — will open their doors Thursday morning, the first day New Jersey allows them to.

Three others, Caesars, Bally’s and Harrah’s, will reopen Friday, after allowing their highest rollers a one-day head start on Thursday.

Only the Borgata, the city’s top-performing casino, will remain shut. It quickly decided to scrap its planned reopening after New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy canceled permission for indoor dining in the state, and imposed smoking and drinking bans on the casinos. The Borgata has not set a reopening date.

French government asks companies to have 10 weeks worth of masks on hand

PARIS — The French government is asking all companies to keep at least 10 weeks worth of masks for their employees in case of a second wave of virus infections.

Health Minister Olivier Veran said Thursday on RTL radio, “It’s fundamental to respect this guidance. We saw it – our country was not sufficiently stocked with masks” during the first wave.

Shortages of all kinds of masks were a major problem in France when the virus raced across the country in March and April, and are central to several lawsuits launched against authorities.

The government is encouraging companies to buy from French textile manufacturers who have a glut of masks after they switched to making them at government request earlier in the pandemic.

“There is a risk of new circulation of the virus,” secretary of state for the economy Agnes Pannier-Runacher told a parliamentary commission. “We are asking companies to plan for 10 weeks of mask stocks, with a little reminder that we now have French producers.”

France’s national health agency has confirmed more than 300 new virus clusters since the country started reopening May 11, and says about half have been contained. Overall France has reported the fifth-highest number of deaths worldwide from the virus, at 29,861 as of Wednesday, about half of them in nursing homes.

U.S. surge in cases continues

NEW YORK — The United States has reported yet another record daily number of new coronavirus infections, over 50,700 cases, according to a tally being kept by Johns Hopkins University.

The U.S. is experiencing a surge of new cases, especially in the South and West, as states have reopened their economies from coast to coast.

California closed bars, theaters and indoor restaurant dining all over again across most of the state Wednesday, and Arizona’s outbreak grew more severe. The California shutdown announcement, which came just ahead of a Fourth of July weekend that could fuel the spread of the virus, applies to about 30 million people, including Los Angeles County.

The surge in new cases has been blamed in part on Americans not wearing masks or obeying social-distancing rules.

Despite the fact that the U.S. has the most confirmed coronavirus infections and deaths in the world, President Donald Trump did not appear overly concerned.

He told Fox Business: “I think that, at some point, that’s going to sort of just disappear, I hope.”

British musicians say the ban on mass gathering could mean an end to the live music scene

LONDON — Paul McCartney and Ed Sheeran are among more than 1,500 musicians asking the British government to step in and save the country’s world-renowned live music scene from devastation by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, Little Mix, Coldplay and Dua Lipa are also signatories to an open letter saying that the ban on mass gatherings in response to the virus could mean “the end of this world-leading industry.”

The letter says that “with no end to social distancing in sight or financial support from government yet agreed, the future for concerts and festivals and the hundreds of thousands of people who work in them looks bleak.”

Britain’s summer music festivals are a major employer and revenue-generator. All have been canceled this year, or become online-only events because of COVID-19.

The U.K. government says it is already supporting millions of furloughed workers, including in the culture sector. and is looking at what additional support it can provide.

As Tokyo returns to normal, coronavirus returns

TOKYO — The Japanese capital has confirmed 107 new cases of the coronavirus, the highest since early May, raising concern about a possible resurgence of the disease just as businesses return to normal.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, at a meeting with a panel of experts, said the infections are on the rise and extra caution is needed. Koike said many of the cases are linked to nightlife establishments, and urged workers to proactively take virus tests and further safety measures.

She said, “We are now at a stage where we need to use caution against the spread of the infections.”

Norio Ohmagari, director of National Center for Global Health and Medicine Hospital, raised concern about the rise in the number of untraceable cases that could multiply infections in weeks.

Tokyo has asked hospitals to start securing up to 3,000 beds in case infections spread further. Up to 1,000 beds are currently set aside for coronavirus patients, officials said.

Experts say many of the recent infections were linked to younger people in their 20s and 30s who have visited the nightlife district. Experts also say infections are being brought home from workplaces and elsewhere, posing risks for elderly people and others with preexisting conditions.

Seoul outbreak spreads beyond the capital region

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea says it has confirmed 54 more COVID-19 cases as the coronavirus continues to spread beyond the capital region and reach cities like Gwangju, which has shut schools and tightened social restrictions after dozens fell sick this week.

The figures reported Thursday brought the national case total to 12,904, including 282 deaths.

Twenty-two of the new cases are in Gwangju, a southwestern city where infections were tied to various places, including office buildings, public libraries, welfare centers and a Buddhist temple.

Twenty-three of the new cases came from the densely popular Seoul metropolitan area, which has been at the center of a virus resurgence since late May amid increased economic activity and eased attitudes on social distancing.

Health Minster Park Neung-hoo is expressing alarm over the rise of infections in Gwangju, which had one of the smallest case loads among major South Korean cities before this week.

China is close to eradicating virus

BEIJING — China is reporting three newly confirmed cases of coronavirus, and says just one of them involved local transmission in the capital of Beijing.

The report Thursday appears to put the country where the virus was first detected late last year on course to eradicating it domestically, at least temporarily.

The National Health Commission says the other two cases were brought from outside China. No new deaths were reported, leaving the toll at 4,634 among 83,537 total cases of COVID-19.

China credits strict quarantine, social distancing and case tracing policies with helping radically lower the number of cases.

China is moving swiftly to re-open its economy, but mass employment looms as the heavily indebted government is reluctant to spend lavishly on stimulus programs.


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