This article was updated on July 5, 2020, at 4:05 p.m. ET.
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Texas Leaders Discuss Strained Hospitals, Surge in Cases
July 5, 4:05 p.m.
Three Texas officials talked on Sunday morning talk shows about a surge of coronavirus cases in the state, strained hospitals, and stay-at-home orders if the numbers don’t improve.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler said he wants Gov. Gregg Abbott to allow local governments to decide whether other measures -- such as lockdown orders -- should be taken to slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the burden on hospitals.
“If we don’t change the trajectory, then I am within 2 weeks of having our hospitals overrun, and in our ICUs, I could be 10 days away from that,” Adler said on CNN’s State of the Union.
Texas reported 8,258 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, marking the highest daily increase so far, according The Associated Press.
Abbott issued a mandate Thursday that requires people to wear face coverings in public in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases. Those who don’t follow the order can be fined up to $250, according his executive order.
A new shelter-in-place order could be necessary to stop the spread of the coronavirus, said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, who issued Houston’s initial lockdown order in March and more recent orders about face coverings and limited group gatherings.
“I’m sure a mask order will make some difference, and I’m grateful that that’s happened. That said, as long as we’re doing as little as possible and hoping for the best, we’re always going to be chasing this thing,” she said on ABC’s This Week.
Hospitals in Houston and 33 other cities in Texas are crossing into “surge capacity,” she said, adding that a stay-at-home order is “what works.”
“We don’t have room for incrementalism when we’re seeing these kinds of numbers, nor should we wait for all the hospital beds to fill and all these people to die before we take drastic action,” she said.
The hardest-hit cities also need help with testing and hospital staffing, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said. During the last month, the proportion of positive tests in the city has shifted from 1 in 10 to 1 in 4, and the number of people in ICUs has increased.
“If we don’t get our hands around this virus quickly, in about 2 weeks, our hospital system could be in serious, serious trouble,” he said on CBS’ Face the Nation.
Navajo Nation Locks Down for the Weekend as Cases Spike Around It
The Navajo Nation is trying to curb the spread of the coronavirus by locking down for the Fourth of July weekend and the next 2 weekends, with the New Mexico National Guard and the Navajo Police Department setting up checkpoints to enforce the lockdown.
Navajo Nation President Joseph Nez said weekend lockdowns were extended because of an alarming spike in cases in other parts of Arizona, not just on the Navajo Nation itself. Most of the Native American territory is in the northeast corner of the state.
"All around the Navajo Nation, you have seen increases, big spikes in COVID-19, and if you don't believe me ... turn on the news right now and you'll see that a lot of attention is on Phoenix, Arizona," Nez during an online town hall, according to AZCentral.com. "All these states have opened back up prematurely, and they see a rise in COVID-positive cases.
"Please don't leave the Navajo Nation, I plead with you, ladies and gentlemen," he said. "We can get through this by working together."
The Navajo Nation -- 175,000 people spread across northeast Arizona, southeast Utah, and northwest New Mexico -- has reason to worry. It’s been a coronavirus hot spot for months.
Back in early June, the Native American territory reported around 6,000 coronavirus cases and an infection rate of 3.4% -- the highest in the country. New York state, by comparison, had a 1.9% infection rate.
The spread of the virus has slowed a little. As of Friday, the Nation had reported 7,733 cases and 375 deaths, according to a news release posted on Twitter. That’s more deaths than reported in Kansas, Nebraska, and several other states. And the Nation reported four more deaths and 64 new cases Friday.
Fifty-seven-hour lockdowns are also planned for the next 2 weekends, from 8 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday. Lockdowns have been held on previous weekends.
“Our numbers would be much higher without the weekend lockdowns and the mask requirement -- we have the data to support it,” Nez said in the news release. “We are following the advice of the Nation’s health care experts, and it has led to a flattening of the curve.”
“The majority of our Navajo people are doing a good job staying home, wearing masks, social distancing, and washing their hands often, and it is resulting in the downward trend in new cases, but the fight is not over,” Nation Vice President Myron Lizer said in a separate news release.
Because of an extreme drought, fireworks, trash burning, campfires, and other activities are prohibited.
“During the Fourth of July weekend, please stay home with your loved ones, and please do not use fireworks,” Lizer said. “Keep fighting COVID-19, and keep our homelands safe from fires.”
Nez told WebMD in June that the social structure of Navajo families, in which it’s common for several generations to live in the same residence, makes it difficult to practice social distancing. Extended families often gather in large groups, he said.
The high poverty rate also makes sanitation difficult. One expert estimated that a third of the Navajo population lacks running water and electricity.
COVID-19 Restrictions Vary for July 4 Weekend
As Americans head into the July 4 weekend, some state and local leaders have imposed curfews, closed businesses, and required face masks to slow the spread of the coronavirus, while others have reopened beaches and lifted restrictions.
For the 35 states with a recent surge in cases, the July 4 weekend feels like a “crossroads,” according to The Washington Post. The U.S. recorded a record 55,220 new cases Thursday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, following Wednesday’s record of 52,789 cases.
“Your actions will determine whether our businesses across the state can stay open,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said Wednesday. “And your actions will determine, frankly, whether we can open schools in the fall.”
For a large part of California, bars and indoor dining aren't options this weekend after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced restrictions for 19 of its 58 counties. California public health officials also warned against group celebrations during the holiday weekend.
“Traditionally, Fourth of July is a time of gathering to celebrate the freedoms this country offers us. This year, however, family gatherings are playing a significant role in the spread of COVID-19,” according to a statement Thursday from the California Department of Public Health.
Florida reported a record high of more than 10,000 new cases Thursday, the Miami Herald reported. Several beaches along the Atlantic in South Florida are closed for the weekend, and Miami-Dade County has a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew that starts Friday.
“The curfew is meant to stop people from venturing out and hanging out with friends in groups, which has shown to be spreading the virus rapidly,” Mayor Carlos Gimenez wrote in a statement.
Georgia also reported a record high of more than 3,400 new cases Thursday. Gov. Brian Kemp launched a statewide “Wear A Mask” tour and said college football would be a “tall task” this fall if the case numbers continued to increase, according The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster shared similar sentiments.
“Let me make it very clear,” he wrote in a Twitter post Wednesday. “Wear a mask and social distance now so we can enjoy high school and college football in South Carolina this fall.”
In other parts of the country, restrictions are easing. Casinos in New Jersey's Atlantic City reopened Thursday morning with a festive flair, according to The New York Times, and beachgoers headed to the New York shores for the weekend. Pools across the state reopened as well, though at 50% capacity.
“This virus does not take a holiday, and so I urge New Yorkers who are visiting swimming pools to follow all the social distancing guidelines,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in an announcement Thursday. “The bottom line is be vigilant and stay safe while enjoying some time outside.”
Texas Governor Reverses Course, Mandates Face Masks Statewide
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order Thursday requiring people to wear facial coverings in public places in counties with 20 or more coronavirus cases.
Abbott had previously encouraged face masks but resisted calls to issue a statewide order, saying such an action would be unfair to rural counties that have reported few cases.
But coronavirus cases have spiked in recent weeks, putting a stress on medical facilities and the economy. On Wednesday, the state reported 8,076 new cases, a state record for a 24-hour period, CNN reported.
“Wearing a face covering in public is proven to be one of the most effective ways we have to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Abbott said in a statement. “We have the ability to keep businesses open and move our economy forward so that Texans can continue to earn a paycheck, but it requires each of us to do our part to protect one another -- and that means wearing a face covering in public spaces.”
The order signed Thursday also gives local officials the power to restrict outdoor gatherings with more than 10 people. The proclamation also says people cannot gather in groups larger than 10 and must practice social distancing.
CNN said the order will affect about two-thirds of the state’s counties.
The surge in cases has caused Abbott to make other changes in his aggressive schedule to reopen the state economy.
Last week, he suspended elective surgeries in four hard-hit counties and paused the economic reopening of the state. He said he regretted allowing bars to open so soon because they had proven to be a major cause of community spread.
Texas has reported more than 168,000 coronavirus cases and more than 2,400 deaths.
Former GOP Candidate Cain Hospitalized With the Coronavirus
Herman Cain, a businessman and 2012 Republican presidential candidate, tested positive for the coronavirus and is being treated in an Atlanta-area hospital, Cain's staff said in a statement posted Thursday on Twitter.
The statement said Cain, 74, learned Monday that he'd tested positive and on Wednesday “had developed symptoms serious enough that he required hospitalization.” He was admitted to the hospital Wednesday and is resting comfortably, the statement said. He's not on a respirator.
“There is no way of knowing for sure how or where Mr. Cain contracted the coronavirus, but we do know he is a fighter who has beaten Stage 4 cancer,” the statement said. “With God's help, we are confident he will make a quick and complete recovery.”
Cain recently attended President Trump's campaign rally in Tulsa and was pictured in a tweet from the event.
According to Fox News, Cain “successfully steered food chains like Burger King and Godfather's Pizza to profitability” before running for the Republican nomination for the presidency in 2012.
His campaign was derailed by allegations of sexual misconduct while he served as CEO of the National Restaurant Association in the late 1990s. He denied the accusations but dropped out of the race.
Cain used to be the host of a political talk show on Atlanta radio station WSB, according to WSB-TV. He is currently the host of The Herman Cain Show at HermainCain.com and Herman Cain's American on NewsmaxTV, WSB said.
Georgia Dog Tests Positive for the Coronavirus
A dog in Georgia tested positive for coronavirus after it had been euthanized, state health officials announced in a news release.
The 6-year-old mixed-breed dog had been put down after a neurological illness that advanced rapidly over several days, the Georgia Department of Public Health said.
The dog owners had been recently diagnosed with COVID-19, so a coronavirus test was done on the dog “out of an abundance of caution,” the news release said. The dog had not shown any respiratory problems.
The presumptive positive result was confirmed by the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory. The neurological illness was not caused by the coronavirus, the news release said.
Results are pending on a second dog in the household that was tested, the department said. That dog showed no symptoms.
This is thought to be the second case in which the coronavirus was found in a dog. A German shepherd in New York state tested positive, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a June 2 news release. That dog was expected to recover.
The CDC said that a tiger at a New York zoo was the first animal in the U.S. to test positive for the coronavirus. Other big cats at the zoo that had been exposed to a zoo employee who had the coronavirus also tested positive. The cats recovered.
The virus has also been found in mink on farms in the Netherlands, the CDC said. Cats on those mink farms had developed antibodies, indicating they'd earlier had the virus.
Despite these cases, the CDC says animals don't appear to play a major role in the spread of the coronavirus.
If you own pets and have the coronavirus, you should take precautions, said the Georgia Department of Public Health. If possible, somebody else in the household should care for the pets while you're sick. Avoid physical contact with the pet. If you do have to care for the pet, wear a cloth face mask and wash your hands after each interaction with the pet.
Pennsylvania Orders Mandatory Masks in Public
Face masks are now mandatory in public spaces in Pennsylvania to stop the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Wednesday. The new order takes effect immediately.
“This mask-wearing order is essential to stopping the recent increase in COVID-19 cases we have seen in Pennsylvania,” he said in a statement. “Those hot spots can be traced to situations where Pennsylvanians were not wearing masks or practicing social distancing.”
Face coverings should be worn if people are outdoors and unable to stay 6 feet away from others who aren't in their household, according to the order, as well as indoor public spaces, public transportation, ride-sharing services, pharmacies, doctor's offices, veterinary clinics, and blood banks. Workers who interact with people publicly, such as food service, should also wear masks.
The order includes exemptions for those who can't wear a mask due to a medical condition, including respiratory issues, mental health conditions, and disabilities. Children under age 2 also don't have to wear a mask.
“While cases increase in some areas, we cannot become complacent,” Rachel Levine, MD, the state's secretary of health who signed the order, said in a statement. “My mask protects you, and your mask protects me. Wearing a mask shows that you care about others and that you are committed to protecting the lives of those around you.”
Oregon and Kansas also announced mandatory face mask requirements this week, according to NPR. They joined the growing list of states with mask mandates, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Washington. Several cities in hot spot states such as Arizona and Florida now require masks as well.
Public health officials have increasingly called for people to wear face masks, especially after a surge in coronavirus cases in the South and West.
“When you do not wear your face covering, we end up in a situation where you see higher rates of disease spread and you end up having to close places,” U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Tuesday during a press briefing.
“This mask, this face covering, actually is an instrument of freedom for Americans if we all use it,” he said.
U.S. Reports Single-Day Record of 50,000 COVID-19 Cases
July 2, 12:18 p.m.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the U.S. reported 50,000 COVID-19 cases in about 2 months. Now it's happened in a single day.
More than 50,200 new coronavirus cases were reported across the country Wednesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, marking a new record for 1 day. The previous record was 45,255 new cases on June 26.
Five states reported record single-day highs on Wednesday as well: Arizona, California, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas, according to U.S. News and World Report.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that 19 counties would close bars, indoor dining, and other places with group gatherings, such as museums, zoos, wineries, family entertainment centers, and movie theaters. The restrictions will last for 3 weeks.
“The bottom line is the spread of this virus continues at a rate that is particularly concerning,” he said during a briefing.
Colorado, Delaware, and Texas have ordered bar closures as well.
“Bars -- really not good, really not good,” Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a Senate hearing Tuesday.
“Congregation at a bar, inside, is bad news,” he said. “We really have got to stop that.”
As of Thursday morning, the U.S. has reported more than 2.68 million cases and more than 128,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins data.
Public health officials are now concerned about the July 4 weekend, which could create “the perfect storm” for a spike in coronavirus cases, according to CNN. On Thursday morning, Newsom reminded Californians to take precautions this weekend.
“REMINDER: #COVID19 does not take the summer off,” he wrote on Twitter. “Does not take the weekend off. And will not take 4th of July off.”
Alaska Airlines to Give 'Yellow Card' to Passengers Who Don't Wear Masks
July 1, 5:55 p.m.
In soccer, players get a yellow card for breaking a rule -- a warning that if they violate a rule again they're kicked out of the match.
Alaska Airlines will be giving its own kind of yellow cards to passengers who refuse to wear face masks.
“Starting in early July, our flight attendants will be empowered to issue a final notice to any guest who repeatedly refuses to wear a mask or face covering on board our aircraft,” the airline said on a company blog. “With that warning -- in the form of a yellow card handed to them -- the guest's travel with us will be reviewed and could be suspended for a period.”
Exemptions are given to passengers under the age of 2 and people with medical issues or disabilities. Masks can be “adjusted” while passengers eat and drink.
Other airlines are doing the same thing, but without the yellow card.
A blog for air travelers, The Points Guy, reported that American Airlines and United Airlines set their own policies last month. According to the blog, “any passenger who does not wear a mask while traveling could be flagged for each airline's list of restricted fliers, possibly causing them to be barred from flying with the carrier again.”
Quilting Cotton Better Than Bandanas for Face Masks, Study Says
Do-it-yourself face coverings can prevent the spread of COVID-19, but some materials are more effective than others, according to a new study published Tuesday in the journal Physics of Fluids.
Well-fitted homemade masks with multiple layers of quilting fabric and off-the-shelf, cone-style masks reduced respiratory droplets the best, the researchers wrote. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is spread through respiratory droplets when people sneeze, cough, talk, and sing.
“Promoting widespread awareness of effective preventive measures is crucial at this time as we are observing significant spikes in cases of COVID-19 infections in many states, especially Florida,” Siddhartha Verma, PhD, the lead author and a Florida Atlantic University professor, said in a statement.
In a lab, the research team used laser light and synthetic fog to visualize how far droplets travel from a mannequin's mouth during simulated coughing and sneezing. They tested bandanas, homemade masks with two layers of cotton quilting fabric, loosely folded homemade masks made from a handkerchief or T-shirt, and cone-style masks available at most pharmacies.
They found that loosely folded face masks and bandanas stopped droplets to some degree, but well-fitted homemade masks with multiple layers and cone-style masks were much better. Masks with multiple layers and off-the-shelf masks still had some leakage through the material and along the sides of the mask, but they reduced the speed and range of droplets, the researchers wrote.
With a bandana, respiratory droplets traveled about 3 feet, 7 inches. With a folded cotton handkerchief, they traveled a little over a foot. With a cone-style mask, droplets traveled 8 inches, and with a stitched quilting cotton mask, droplets traveled 2.5 inches.
The research team also found that droplets from uncovered coughs traveled more than the recommended 6-foot physical distancing guidelines. Without a mask, droplets traveled more than 8 feet. In some cases, they traveled up to 12 feet within 50 seconds and could remain in the air for up to 3 minutes in the calm lab environment.
“The visuals used in our study can help convey to the general public the rationale behind social-distancing guidelines and recommendations for using face masks,” Verma said.
How many people have been diagnosed with the virus, and how many have died?
According to Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 10.74 million cases and more than 517,200 deaths worldwide. More than 5.52 million people have recovered.
How many cases of COVID-19 are in the United States?
There are more than 2.7 million cases in the U.S. of COVID-19, and more than 128,200 deaths. More than 730,000 Americans have recovered from the disease, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. See a map of cases and deaths by state here.
What travel restrictions are there?
The State Department has urged all U.S. citizens to avoid any international travel due to the global impact of the new coronavirus.
If you are currently overseas, the department wants you to come home, “unless [you] are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period,” according to a statement.
“Many countries are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice,” the agency says.
In addition, the State Department says it will not issue any new passports except for people with a “qualified life-or-death emergency and who need a passport for immediate international travel within 72 hours.” The U.S. is banning all foreign travel to the United States from most of Europe for 30 days beginning midnight Friday, March 13. American citizens are not included in the ban.
The U.S. has also temporarily suspended nonessential travel to Mexico and Canada.
Carolyn Crist and Ralph Ellis contributed to this report.