MEXICO CITY — Mexican officials say the number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths has passed 35,000, making it the country with the fourth highest total.

A count by Johns Hopkins University has only the United States, Brazil and Britain with more confirmed deaths from the new coronavirus. Sunday’s rise to 35,006 confirmed deaths moved Mexico, a country with 130 million inhabitants, past Italy.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador insisted the development of the pandemic in Mexico “is positive, it is good” because of the country’s 32 states only nine had increases in infections.

“The bottom line is that the pandemic is on the downside, that it is losing intensity,” Mexico’s president said.

Nevertheless, some days this past week have seen record daily numbers of new infections.

Deputy Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell said the number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus rose to 299,750 on Sunday.

Heat wave brings crowds to California’s beaches

LOS ANGELES — A heat wave has brought crowds to California’s beaches, where people mostly heeded warnings to keep a safe distance from each other as the state grappled with a spike in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations.

Lifeguard Chief Jason Young said Sunday that people are spread out on Orange County beaches. Temperatures soared into the 90s in many areas from San Diego north to the San Francisco Bay Area.

The statewide death toll increased by 71 to hit 7,107. There are more than 320,800 positive cases statewide. Meanwhile, two more inmates from San Quentin State Prison have died.

Houston officials call for return to lockdown

HOUSTON, Texas — Top officials in Houston are calling for the city to lock back down as area hospitals strain to accommodate the onslaught of patients sick with the new coronavirus.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, both Democrats, said this weekend that a stay-at-home order is needed for America’s fourth-largest city to cope with the surge of COVID-19 cases.

The call comes after a week in which Texas continued to break records for confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths linked to the disease. State health officials reported 8,196 new cases Sunday, another 80 deaths and a total of 10,410 people hospitalized due to the virus.

The decision over a lockdown, however, rests with Republican Gov. Greg Abbott — who has resisted this step, saying it should be a last resort.

WHO reports daily record for increase in COVID cases

GENEVA — The World Health Organization has reported another record in the increase in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases over a 24-hour period, at over 230,000.

The U.N. health agency said Sunday the United States again topped the list among countries, with more than 66,000 cases recorded.

The figures don’t necessarily account for delays in reporting of cases, and are believed to far underestimate actual case totals.

Still, the trend line of confirmed cases continues to increase — with three largest counts coming in over the last three days.

The previous record was Friday, with more than 228,000 newly recorded cases worldwide in a 24-hour span.

Overall, the WHO has counted more than 12.5 million confirmed cases and more than 561,000 deaths from COVID-19.

Betsy DeVos downplays risks of reopening schools

WASHINGTON — Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is downplaying the risk of sending kids back to school despite surging coronavirus cases in many parts of the U.S.

Speaking in Sunday TV interviews, DeVos stressed that kids attending school in the fall should be the rule, not the exception.

She asserted that “there’s nothing in the data that suggests that kids being in school is in any way dangerous.”

But she was contradicted by public health experts who said the virus can still be dangerous to kids, even if the risk is lower. Dr. Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins University, said on “Fox News Sunday” that science is also unclear on how much kids can spread the disease to more vulnerable adults.

DeVos said the Trump administration is looking at “all the options” for pulling funding from schools if they don’t provide full-time in person learning, calling American investment in education “a promise to students and their families.”

She described Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for keeping schools safe, such as face coverings and social distancing, as “guidelines” meant to be flexible.

NY officials begin outlining plans to reopen schools

NEW YORK — New York education officials are set to begin outlining what will need to be done to reopen schools as Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the state has maintained a “low and stable” number of people testing positive for coronavirus.

The state Education Department is scheduled to present a framework for the long-awaited reopening guidance to the Board of Regents on Monday, with the full guidance to come later.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio last week announced a hybrid plan for the nation’s largest district that would put most students inside their physical schools just two or three days a week. Schools can’t accommodate all their students and maintain safe social distancing, he said.

Cuomo, however, said it is up to him to decide whether the state’s approximately 700 school districts can open at all. He said state officials will decide in the first week of August whether to accept plans submitted by districts — and whether schools will reopen in the fall at all.

New York reported five coronavirus deaths on Sunday, matching its lowest number since the pandemic emerged there. But Cuomo said the rising number of cases elsewhere is concerning.

“Today’s numbers remain low and stable, but it is up to us to keep it that way,” Cuomo said in a written statement, urging people to wear masks and socially distance.

Catalan authorities tighten lockdown restrictions

BARCELONA, Spain — Regional authorities in northeast Spain have tightened a health lockdown and confined over 140,000 people to only leaving their homes for work and other essential activities.

Catalan authorities announced the confinement on Sunday, a week after they had already limited travel to and from the county of El Segria, population 210,000, because of an outbreak of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Lleida, with 138,000 residents, is one of the municipalities in which people are confined to their homes.

“We must break the chain of contagion,” said regional health authority Alba Vergés. “We must limit our contact to those people we live with.”

The outbreak in the rural area is connected to farm work and seasonal day laborers, many of whom work and live in precarious conditions.

Catalan health authorities are also keeping close watch on an outbreak in Hospitalet, a densely populated municipality in the greater Barcelona metropolitan area. In total, northeast Catalonia reported over 800 new cases on Sunday.

Spain emerged from a three-month nationwide lockdown in mid-June that it needed to rein in the virus that has officially claimed at least 28,000 lives.

Great White apologizes for mask-less show in North Dakota

DICKINSON, N.D. — Metal band Great White has apologized for performing at an outdoor North Dakota concert where the crowd didn’t wear masks despite the ongoing threat of the coronavirus.

The band drew criticism on social media after the performance Thursday night as part of the “First on First: Dickinson Summer Nights” concert series in Dickinson, in the southwest of the state. Spin magazine posted video showing the crowd packed in and not wearing face masks.

“We have had the luxury of hindsight and we would like to apologize to those who disagreed with our decision to fulfill our contractual agreement. The Promoter and staff were nothing but professional and assured us of the safety precautions,” Great White said in a statement Saturday.

Although North Dakota health officials recommend social distancing and wearing masks when possible, there is no legal requirement to do so in the state and Great White said the band nevertheless was “not in a position to enforce the laws.”

The band is best known for its version of “Once Bitten, Twice Shy.” A different iteration of Great White that included longtime frontman Jack Russell and that performed under the name Jack Russell’s Great White was involved in one of the most tragic concerts in U.S. history in 2003. During a show at The Station nightclub in Rhode Island, the band’s pyrotechnics sparked a fast-moving blaze that caused a bottleneck as fans tried to flee. The fire killed 100 people.

Read the rest of the story here.

Florida reports largest single-day increase in virus cases

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— Florida shattered the national record Sunday for the largest single-day increase in positive coronavirus cases in any state since the beginning of the pandemic, adding more than 15,000 cases as its daily average death toll continued to also rise.

According to state Department of Health statistics, 15,299 people tested positive, for a total of 269,811 cases, and 45 deaths were recorded.

California had the previous record of daily positive cases — 11,694, set on Wednesday. New York had 11,571 on April 15.

The numbers come at the end of a grim, record-breaking week as Florida reported 514 fatalities — an average of 73 per day. Three weeks ago, the state was averaging 30 deaths per day. Since the pandemic began in March, 4,346 people have died in Florida of COVID-19, the state says.

Testing has doubled over the last month, going from about 25,000 tests per day to almost 50,000, but the percentage of people testing positive has risen even more dramatically. A month ago, fewer than 5% of tests came up positive on a daily average. Over the past week, the daily average exceeded 19%.

Read the rest of this story here.

Surgeon general urges face coverings

WASHINGTON — Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Sunday the Trump administration is “trying to correct” its guidance from earlier in the coronavirus epidemic that wearing face coverings was not necessary.

With virus cases surging and many states and cities now issuing orders to wear masks in public, Adams said he and other administration officials were wrong back in March. But he insists they were going with the scientific knowledge at the time, which suggested that people with COVID-19 who showed no symptoms were not likely to spread the virus.

Adams said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that “once upon a time, we prescribed cigarettes for asthmatics and leeches and cocaine and heroin for people as medical treatments. When we learned better, we do better.”

Dr. Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins University, told “Fox News Sunday” that he would have liked to have seen administration officials wear masks sooner. He says it should not be viewed as a “personal choice” but a public health imperative.

Trump was seen wearing a mask in public for the first time Saturday during a visit to a military hospital.

Italy sees jump in new coronavirus cases

ROME — Local outbreaks of COVID-19 among workers at a courier service in northern Italy and among migrants rescued in the Mediterranean Sea have helped swell an increase in the nation’s daily new cases.

Calabria, which in recent days had been registering a couple or even no new daily coronavirus infections, had 28 new cases on Sunday, stemming from as many infections among nearly 800 migrants rescued from human traffickers’ boats and brought to that region.

Calabria Gov. Jole Santelli called on the national government to safeguard the local population by requisitioning navy boats going forward and keeping rescued migrants offshore until they can be tested for coronavirus infection.

In the Emilia-Romagna region, 71 cases were registered on Sunday, according to the Health Ministry, a sizable jump from recent days, reflecting a hot spot of infections at a major courier service in Bologna.

In contrast, Lombardy, which during the pandemic saw daily new cases loads far over 1,000, registered 77 cases on Sunday. With the latest 234 cases nationwide, Italy now has 243,061 known cases. With nine deaths tallied on Sunday, the overall confirmed death toll is 34,954. Authorities say the actual number of cases and deaths is certainly higher.

Nice mayor makes masks mandatory

PARIS — After images of thousands of people dancing provoked renewed debate in France over social distancing, the mayor of the Mediterranean resort of Nice announced Sunday that face masks will be obligatory at all of the city’s events from now on.

Video of dense crowds dancing at a DJ’s outdoor set on Saturday night drew hundreds of thousands of views and criticism that many partygoers didn’t wear masks or stay apart. The crowd’s behavior fueled concerns of growing indifference among the French for social distancing, even as the country’s COVID-related death toll has surpassed 30,000.

Health workers have expressed fears of a second wave of infections as the French revel in post-lockdown freedoms and embark on summer vacations.

Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi on Sunday defended the decision to allow the concert, saying efforts were made to limit the crowd-size to 5,000 people and messages were broadcast to urge them to distance.

But Estrosi also added that “we regret that these instructions were not sufficiently respected.”

He asked the government to make the wearing of masks obligatory at crowded events, including those outdoors. He said masks would now be required “for all our events” in Nice.

Pelosi praises Trump for wearing mask

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday that President Trump has “crossed a bridge” by wearing a face mask during a visit to a military hospital.

Pelosi told CNN’s “State of the Union” that she hopes it means the president “will change his attitude, which will be helpful in stopping the spread of the coronavirus.”

Trump wore a mask during a visit Saturday to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in suburban Maryland, where he met wounded servicemembers and health care providers.

It was the first time the president was seen in public with the type of facial covering recommended by health officials as a precaution against spreading or becoming infected by the virus.

Pelosi said she’s “so glad that he obeyed the rules of the Walter Reed. You can’t go see our veterans who are there without wearing a mask.”

The only time Trump has been known to wear a mask was during a private part of a tour of a Ford plant in Michigan.

Task force official says surge “is not out of control”

WASHINGTON — A member of the White House coronavirus task force said Sunday that despite a surge in cases across the country, the situation “is not out of control.’’

Brett Giroir said it’s going to take “a lot of effort and everybody’s going to have to do their part’’ to combat the pandemic.

And the assistant secretary at the Health and Human Services Department said that “we have to have people wearing a mask in public. It’s absolutely essential.’’

Giroir told ABC’s “This Week” that officials would like to see something like 90 percent of people wearing a mask in public in areas that are hot spots.

He said that “if we don’t have that, we will not get control of the virus.’’ Giroir says there’s no downside to wearing a mask.

When Giroir was asked about whether states that are seeing a spike in cases should consider more stringent lockdowns, he said, “Everything should be on the table.”

And looking ahead, Giroir said it’s possible that the situation “could be worse in the fall” and he thinks that in the fall “we’re going to need tens of millions of more tests a month.” He also said there’s some data that people can get both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time and “that’s not really good.”

British authorities lock down farm after outbreak

LONDON – British authorities are locking down 200 workers at a farm in central England after a fresh coronavirus outbreak.

Officials said Sunday that 73 of the workers tested positive for the virus at the AS Green and Co. vegetable farm in the village of Mathon, south of Birmingham.

The workers, who live on mobile homes at the farm, were hired to pick and pack produce. They’re being required to remain on the farm and self-isolate with their household groups, with the local council arranging deliveries of food and essential supplies.

The farm had put in place a number of infection control measures, including promoting social distancing in communal spaces and the indoor packaging area and providing personal protective equipment, officials said.

“Despite these measures, a small number of workers became symptomatic earlier this week and they and a few close contacts among the workforce were tested initially and found to be positive,” Katie Spence, health protection director at Public Health England Midlands, said in a statement.

The entire workforce was then tested and a “significant percentage” came back positive, despite the individuals not showing symptoms, she said.

The farm said its website that its management team and visitors have also been tested but those results came back negative.

South Africa continues to record surging infections

JOHANNESBURG — With surging confirmed cases of COVID-19, South Africa is now ranked as the ninth most affected country by the disease, according to Johns Hopkins University. South Africa has 264,184 cases, including 3,971 deaths, accounting for more than 40% of all the reported cases in Africa.

More than 30% of South Africa’s cases are in the economic hub of Gauteng province, which includes the largest city, Johannesburg, and the capital, Pretoria. Johannesburg’s densely populated Soweto township is one of the hot spots. Public hospitals are expressing concerns about shortages of available beds and medical oxygen.

Africa’s 54 countries have reported 577,904 cases, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Sunday. The continent’s confirmed cases are concentrated in four countries — South Africa, Egypt with 81,158 cases, Nigeria with 31,987 cases and Algeria with 18,712 cases – which together make up more than 65% of the continent’s cases.

The number of actual cases in Africa is believed to be much higher, as the testing rate is very low in many countries.

Netanyahu promises financial help to struggling Israelis

TEL AVIV, Israel — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is repeating his promise to provide speedy financial help for self-employed workers after thousands protested against what they see as a failed government response to the economic crisis wrought by the coronavirus.

Netanyahu said at his weekly Cabinet meeting Sunday that workers would receive an immediate stipend and could expect a safety net for the next 12 months. He said he would work to ease bureaucratic hurdles and would hold dialogues with workers’ representatives to solve outstanding issues.

Netanyahu’s remarks come after some 10,000 people demonstrated in central Tel Aviv on Saturday, demanding that the government fulfill the promises it made to assist Israelis imperiled financially because of virus restrictions.

The protest came as anger has swelled over Netanyahu’s handling of the crisis. Critics say the money promised in previous plans hasn’t been doled out or has been insufficient.

Israel recently reimposed restrictions because of a spike in coronavirus cases, closing bars, events spaces and other venues.

Vatican highlights plight of maritime workers

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican is highlighting the plight of maritime workers during the pandemic, saying bans on shore leave are severely stressing crews stuck aboard ship, some to the point of suicide.

Cardinal Peter A. Turkson, who heads a Vatican office dealing with issues of human development, said in a message Sunday that maritime workers “really deserve our esteem and gratitude” for ensuring movement of goods for a “healthy global economy” while much of the world is in lockdown to combat spread of COVID-19 infection.

He said that tens of thousands of seafarers who were due to fly home for leave between long stints at sea were prevented from doing so due to lockdown rules.

Similarly, thousands of seafarers due to head to sea on new tours of duty were stranded in hotels and dormitories.

Turkson lamented that those stranded on board vessels “suffer isolation, severe physical and mental stress that brings many crews on the verge of desperation and, unfortunately” suicide.

The cardinal said Catholics worldwide during August are being encouraged to pray for all those who work and live from the sea, including sailors and fishers and their families.

Spaniards vote under tight restrictions

MADRID — Spaniards in two northern regions are voting in regional elections Sunday amid tight security measures to avoid more outbreaks of the coronavirus.

Regional authorities in both Basque Country and Galicia have prohibited over 400 people who have tested positive for the virus from leaving their homes to vote.

Spain’s Supreme Court backed the decision in a ruling Friday in response to a complaint by opposition parties in both regions.

Voters must wear face masks to vote and remain 1.5 meters (5 feet) apart in polling stations, which are equipped with hand sanitizers.

Both regional governments originally called elections to be held on April 5 but postponed them due to the rapid rise in infections that Spain could only rein in by locking down the country until June.

Health authorities are watching small outbreaks in both regions, as well as in other parts of Spain. Over 28,000 COVID-19 deaths have been confirmed in Spain.

The conservative Popular Party in Galicia and the Basque regionalist party PNV are hoping to remain in power.

India’s caseload nears 850,000

NEW DELHI — India’s coronavirus caseload is nearing 850,000 with a record surge of 28,637 in the past 24 hours, prompting authorities to announce a weeklong lockdown in the key southern technology hub of Bangalore.

The new confirmed cases took the national total to 849,553. The Health Ministry on Sunday also reported another 551 deaths for a total of 22,674.

India has overtaken Russia in the number of cases and is currently behind the United States and Brazil, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Southern Karnataka state, whose IT hub Bangalore is home to Microsoft, Apple and Amazon offices, extended Sunday lockdowns to one week beginning Tuesday.

New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Pune are among the key Indian cities witnessing a surge in infections. Several states also have announced stringent lockdowns in high-risk areas.

Nevada slows legislative session after lawmaker tests positive

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Nevada lawmakers have pumped the brakes on their emergency special session because someone in the legislative building has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Gov. Steve Sisolak has convened the session so lawmakers can balance the state budget amid a projected $1.2 billion shortfall stemming from the economic damage of the pandemic.

But on Friday staff members announced that someone in the building is infected with the virus, though the person shows no symptoms.

On Saturday, 13 Nevada lawmakers decided they would now participate remotely in the emergency session and both chambers agreed to recess until Monday morning. That will give time for legislators time to get tested and staff to answer a long list of questions that lawmakers have asked in hearings.

Arkansas reports a daily record 1.061 new cases

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas authorities have reported a state-record of 1,061 newly confirmed coronavirus cases for a single day but no new deaths related to the virus.

State health officials said Saturday that the total for COVID-19 cases now stood at 27,864. The state says the death toll remainw at 313 for the outbreak for which tracking began in early March.

The true number of cases in Arkansas is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.

Arkansas’ virus cases have dramatically risen since May, when the state began allowing businesses to reopen.


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