COVID-19

US hits another bleak coronavirus milestone

On Thursday, Florida reported 10,109 additional new coronavirus cases, a new daily record

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US PRESS GROUP

The US set another record for new coronavirus cases just days before the July Fourth weekend -- with at least 23 states pausing reopening plans to combat mounting infections. There were 50,655 new coronavirus cases reported nationwide Wednesday, a single-day record. It took a little over two months to record numbers close to that nationwide when the pandemic started. Last week, new cases had also soared to a record high.

On Thursday, Florida reported 10,109 additional new coronavirus cases, a new daily record. And at least five states -- Arizona, California, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas -- reported a record number of new cases Wednesday.

The current spike in new cases is due to an increase in infections, not because of more testing, Adm. Dr. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health for the US Department of Health and Human Services said on Thursday.

"There is no question that the more testing you get, the more you will uncover -- but we do believe this is a real increase in cases," Giroir told the House Select Committee on Coronavirus. The increase is believed real because the percentage of patients testing positive is going up, Giroir said.

Health officials are urging Americans to limit their holiday weekend festivities to avoid clusters of outbreaks.

"We know people are tired of being cooped up at home ... but cases surged after Memorial Day," said Dean Sidelinger, the Oregon state health officer. "We don't want the same thing to happen over the Independence Day holiday."

In Nebraska, officials warned residents to maintain a contact list for future tracing if they have to invite guests over for the holiday. They urged people to hold such events outdoors if possible, avoid sharing items such as sun screen and maintain social distancing.

The Fourth of July weekend could be the "perfect storm" for a spike in coronavirus cases, said Dr. Joshua Barocas, an infectious disease physician at Boston Medical Center.

"The combination of travel, the combination of reopening -- perhaps in some cases, too early -- and the combination of people not necessarily following some of these preventive guidelines," he said.

One thing that could slow the march of the coronavirus is the development of a vaccine. US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said Thursday that the US remains on target to have a vaccine available by the end of December or early next year.

"FDA has given authorization to proceed with clinical trials for four separate vaccines and we've seen a number of vaccine developers come forward -- double digit numbers -- so we have a lot of different, if you will, shots on goal with respect to vaccines. That's good news," Hahn told ABC's Whit Johnson during an appearance on "Good Morning America."

"We expect two of these vaccines to go in the late stage of clinical trials, which are large clinical trials, in this month," Hahn said.
"We are on target to reach a vaccine by year's end or early next year, so I'm cautiously optimistic. Of course it depends upon the data that are generated from the trial."

The US could have more than one Covid-19 vaccine by early next year as part of its Operation Warp Speed initiative, Gary Disbrow, acting director of the Biomedical Advanced Research And Development Authority, said during a Senate committee hearing on Thursday.
"We are fully engaged with multiple companies in the manufacturing phase," Disbrow said.

Operation Warp Speed aims to deliver 300 million doses of a safe and effective vaccine for Covid-19 by January.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has been flying around the state encouraging people to wear face masks ahead of the holiday weekend, though he hasn't issued a statewide mask order.

"We're not out of the woods yet," Kemp said Thursday during a news conference in Dalton. "We cannot get complacent."

Kemp encouraged Georgians to continue social distancing, washing their hands and wearing a mask or face covering.

When asked to elaborate, Kemp said "We got a speed limit all over the state, here in town, on the interstate. Not everybody obeys by that."

Georgia has reported more than 81,000 confirmed cases and 2,800 deaths, with daily case counts hitting record highs recently.
The virus has killed around 128,000 people and infected more than 2.6 million nationwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.

As new cases rise and states rethink reopenings, some areas that had made progress against the virus are showing signs of resurgence.
California was one of the first states to shut down with some of the most stringent measures.

On Wednesday, it reported 9,740 new cases -- a number that included over 3,800 previously unreported cases from a five-day period, officials said.

More than 28 million Californians live in counties where restaurant dining rooms, bars and other indoor facilities have been ordered to stay shut as Covid-19 cases increase. The closures affect 72% of the state's population, and include restaurants, breweries, museums, zoos and movie theaters for at least three weeks, Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

"Bottom line is, the spread of this virus continues at a rate that is particularly concerning," Newsom said.

Partly in reaction to Newsom's order, the University of Southern California changed its plans to resume in-person classes in the fall semester and urged students to take online courses instead.
Michigan is closing indoor service at bars throughout most of the lower part of the state.

Other states including Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine and Nevada -- which have all seen more than a 50% increase in cases -- have paused or rolled back their reopening plans.

Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced Thursday the city would "revert" to "Phase Two with modifications" because "Phase Three has not been effective. We are going to go back to what we know is effective in slowing the spread of the disease."

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