LOS ANGELES — Californians mostly heeded warnings to stay away from beaches and other public spaces during the long weekend.

State officials urged social distancing amid a spike in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations.

Many communities canceled July 4 fireworks shows and other annual festivities – changes that appeared to successfully keep crowds at bay. However big waves at Southern California beaches proved irresistible to some surfers.

California reported 6,500 additional confirmed cases of the virus on Saturday. The actual number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

Florida has over 200,000 positive cases

MIAMI — Florida health officials say the state has reached a grim milestone: more than 200,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19.

State statistics released Sunday show about 10,000 new people tested positive. Saturday’s numbers — more than 11,400 cases — marked a record new single-day high. More than 3,700 people have died.

About 43% of the cases are in three counties: Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that the high numbers of positive tests both in his county and the state are “extremely worrisome.”

Suarez, who had the virus in March, says it’s clear the growth is “exponential at this point” and officials are closely monitoring hospitalizations. They’re also closely watching the death rate, which “give us the impression” that “much stricter” measures have to be taken.

Florida’s death count is the ninth highest in the country overall and the 27th highest per capita at 17.4 deaths per 100,000 people.

Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases has increased by 5,323.1, an increase of 184.1%.

Phoenix Mayor calls testing shortages a “crisis”

WASHINGTON — Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego is pointing to a “crisis” involving coronavirus testing shortages in her city due to surging cases in Arizona, which leads the U.S. in new coronavirus cases per capita.

Gallego, a Democrat, said some residents over the weekend had to line up for eight hours by car to get COVID-19 tests and that the federal government has been slow to help.

Gallego tells ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that Arizona went from “zero to 60” by being one of the first states to reopen after it was among the last to implement stay-at-home orders.

She says that led to an explosion of cases, citing crowded nightclubs with free champagne and people unwittingly spreading the virus at large family gatherings.

She faults mixed public messaging after President Trump’s recent visit to Phoenix. Gallego says while she was urging people to stay at home and avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, Trump undercut that by holding large events and not wearing a mask.

Pope praises U.N. efforts against pandemic

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis is praising U.N. Security Council efforts for worldwide cease-fires to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

In remarks Sunday to the public in St. Peter’s Square, Francis hailed the Security Council’s “request for a global and immediate cease-fire, which would permit the peace and security indispensable for supplying so urgently needed humanitarian assistance.”

The pontiff called for the prompt implementation “for the good of the so many persons who are suffering.” He also expressed hope that the Security Council resolution be a “courageous first step for the future of peace.”

The resolution calls on parties to armed conflicts to immediately cease fire for at least 90 days to enable safe, sustained delivery of humanitarian assistance, including medical evacuations.

U.S. total numbers dip, but holiday could push them up again

BALTIMORE — The United States has dipped under 50,000 new coronavirus cases for the first time in four days, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, but experts fear celebrations for the July 4th Independence Day weekend will act like rocket fuel for the nation’s surging outbreak.

Johns Hopkins counted 45,300 new coronavirus infections in the U.S. on Saturday after three days in which the daily count reached as high as 54,500 new cases. The lower figure on Saturday does not necessarily mean the situation in the U.S. is improving, as it could be due to reduced reporting on a national holiday.

The United States has the most infections and virus-related deaths in the world, with 2.8 million cases and nearly 130,000 dead, according to the university. Experts say the true toll of the pandemic is significantly higher, due to people who died before they were tested and missed mild cases.

To show just how steep the current infection curve is in the U.S., the country was reporting under 20,000 new infections a day as recently as June 15.

Despite warnings by health experts to limit gatherings, President Donald Trump went ahead with a speech at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota on Friday and an evening of tribute and fireworks Saturday on the National Mall in Washington.

Opening pubs begins well in England

LONDON — After England’s hospitality sector, including pubs and restaurants, reopened for the first time in more than three months, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Sunday that the vast majority of people did “the right thing.”

Early indications suggest that the reopening of pubs in England on Saturday did not overwhelm emergency services as many had feared in the run-up to the biggest easing of the lockdown.

For the most part, people appeared to abide by the rules, though in some places, the numbers out and about meant it was very difficult to do so.

John Apter, chair of the Police Federation, was on shift on Saturday night, and said it was “crystal clear” that drunk people struggled, or ignored, social distancing rules.

Though the easing has been warmly welcomed by many, there are concerns the British government is being overly hasty in sanctioning the changes.

The U.K. has experienced one of the world’s worst outbreaks so far, with the official coronavirus death toll of 44,198 is the third-highest behind the United States and Brazil.

Ghana’s president self-isolates after exposure

JOHANNESBURG — A third African head of state in the space of a week and a half is self-isolating after someone close to him tested positive for the coronavirus.

Ghana’s information ministry says President Nana Akufo-Addo has tested negative but decided to isolate himself “out of an abundance of caution.”

Senegal’s President Macky Sall late last month isolated himself after a similar situation, and Botswana’s government on Thursday said President Mokgweetsi Masisi had gone into self-isolation yet again after a close official tested positive. This is the fourth time he has done so since March.

South Africa reports more than 10,000 new confirmed cases

JOHANNESBURG — For the first time, South Africa is reporting more than 10,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases in a single day.

That brings the country’s total confirmed cases to more than 187,977, by far the most of any country in Africa.

South Africa also has surpassed 3,000 deaths in this outbreak.

Cases continue to rise in Gauteng province, home of Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria, which now has close to one-third of the country’s infections.

Officials have said beds in public hospitals are filling up, and nurses have expressed alarm.

The African continent overall has nearly 450,000 confirmed cases.

Montana officials possibly exposed at Trump event

BOZEMAN, Mont. — A Montana newspaper reports that the wife and the running mate of Republican governor candidate Greg Gianforte, as well as several other top GOP officials, were possibly exposed to the coronavirus while attending an event with the girlfriend of President Trump’s oldest son.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle says Gianforte’s wife, Susan, lieutenant governor candidate Kristen Juras and other Montana Republican officials were at a Trump fundraising event Wednesday in Gallatin County with Kimberly Guilfoyle, the girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr.

The New York Times reports that Guilfoyle was diagnosed with the coronavirus on Friday.

Greg Gianforte is Montana’s representative in the U.S. House. He did not attend the event.

Texas reports more than 8,000 new cases

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas has reported its biggest daily increase in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases — 8,258. Hospitalizations also continue to climb.

Much of Texas began mandating face coverings Friday on the orders of Gov. Greg Abbott. The mask order carries a $250 fine. The order is the most dramatic about-face that Abbott has made as he retreats from what stood out as one of America’s swiftest reopenings.

Texas health officials on Saturday said the state’s total number of confirmed coronavirus cases is now at 191,790. State health officials also reported 33 additional deaths linked to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. That brings Texas’ total to 2,608 deaths. Hospitalizations stood at 7,890 on Saturday, an increase of 238 from Friday.

WHO ends trial on hydroxycloroquine

BERLIN — The World Health Organization says it is ending a trial into whether anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine helps patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

WHO said Saturday it has “accepted the recommendation” from the committee overseeing the trial to discontinue testing of hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir, a drug combination used to treat HIV/AIDS. The drugs were being compared with standard care for hospitalized patients.

WHO says a review of the interim results showed hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir “produce little or no reduction in the mortality of hospitalized COVID-19 patients when compared to standard of care.”

The agency adds that while there was no “solid evidence” of increased mortality for hospitalized patients given the drugs, there were “some associated safety signals in the clinical laboratory findings” of an associated trial.

WHO says the decision won’t affect possible trials on patients who aren’t hospitalized, or on those receiving the drugs before potential exposure to the coronavirus or shortly afterward.

 

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