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The United States set a record for new covid-19 cases for the third time in three days, passing the 40,000 mark for the first time, according to tracking by The Washington Post. Thirteen states set their own records for the average number of new cases reported over the past seven days: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Idaho, Washington and Utah.

Six states set new single-day highs, led by Florida with 8,942 cases, more than 60 percent higher than its previous high set on Wednesday. Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Idaho and Utah also set new single-day records.

Florida announced Friday morning that bars must close immediately, a move echoed by Texas, a state also dealing with a surge in cases and nearing its capacity to care for those suffering. Both states are backtracking amid a crisis of rising hospitalizations and skyrocketing infection rates.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued an executive order that revives restrictions on bars, restaurants and certain types of outdoor recreation, one day after suggesting he would not.

Nationally, 44,702 new infections were reported by state health departments on Friday, surpassing the previous record, 39,327, set a day earlier.

Here are some significant developments:

  • A federal judge in California on Friday ordered the release of migrant children being held with their parents at the country’s three family detention facilities, citing coronavirus outbreaks at two of the centers.
  • The Dow Jones industrial average slid 730.05 points, about 2.8 percent, as rising coronavirus infections roiled investors Friday.
  • Vice President Pence said during a White House coronavirus task force news briefing that it is “very encouraging news” that half of the increasing cases in Florida and Texas are among Americans under 35, because younger people tend to have less-serious outcomes.
  • The Trump administration official coordinating tests for the novel coronavirus did a partial pivot Friday, announcing that the government would briefly extend its management of five testing sites in Texas, a state with a recent spike of cases and hospitalizations.
  • Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious-disease doctor, urged Americans to see their role in taking safety precautions as a “societal responsibility.” He begged them not to let their guards down even if the risk to their own health is considered minimal, because they can still transport it.
  • In another sign that hopes of a swift economic recovery may be losing steam, the number of homeowners delaying their mortgage payments shot up by 79,000.
  • Portugal is reinstating lockdown measures for about 700,000 people in 19 civil parishes around Lisbon next week after a worrying rise in cases in communities in the capital’s outskirts.

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June 27, 2020 at 1:22 PM EDT

Judge orders Trump administration to release children from family detention due to virus

A federal judge in California on Friday ordered the release of migrant children being held with their parents at the country’s three family detention facilities, citing coronavirus outbreaks at two of the centers.

U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee ruled that children held for more than 20 days at the centers in Texas and Pennsylvania must be released with their parents or transferred to family sponsors by July 17. There were 124 juveniles in the centers, run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as of June 8, the order said.

Gee criticized the government for not appropriately implementing public health recommendations at its detention facilities. The centers, she wrote, “are ‘on fire’ and there is no more time for half measures.”

Not every child will necessarily be released. The absence of a suitable sponsor or a parent’s refusal to permit their child to be transferred to a sponsor are considered acceptable reasons to continue detaining a child, according to Gee’s order.

Advocates have called for entire families to be released, especially because detention centers are conducive to spreading the virus, the Associated Press reported. At least 11 people being held at the facility in Karnes City, Tex., have tested positive, Gee’s order said, while four employees at the center in Dilley, Tex., were found to have the virus and detainees’ test results are pending.

Peter Schey, an attorney representing the children, said he and the other lawyers will discuss with the government how ICE will assess each parent’s wishes and make sure children are released to family members when that is a parent’s desire.

“Some detained parents facing deportation brought their children to this country to save them from rampant violence in their home countries and would prefer to see their child released to relatives here rather than being deported with the parent to countries where children are routinely kidnapped, beaten, and killed,” Schey said in a statement.

In a statement Saturday, a spokesperson for ICE said the agency is reviewing Gee’s order.

Maria Sacchetti contributed to this report.

By Marisa Iati
June 26, 2020 at 10:56 PM EDT

Flood of hikers, protective gear requirements could pose challenges for search-and-rescue teams

A lot of hikers get hurt in the backcountry each year. Sometimes, they’re fortunate enough to walk or limp back to their car on their own, like Todd Levin did in Kings Canyon National Park in California. But if a hiker snaps an ankle or suffers heat exhaustion and loses the ability to walk out of the wild unassisted, they must find some way to inform local authorities about their predicament.

Then the situation becomes a search-and-rescue (SAR) operation: SAR providers — who could be employees of state agencies or local volunteers — organize a rescue party, rustle up the requisite medical gear for the mission, and clomp into the wild to find the injured hiker, treat their injuries and transport them out of the backcountry to the nearest regional hospital.

This year, however, SAR resources are facing two new challenges created by the novel coronavirus.

Read more here.

By Mike Howard
June 26, 2020 at 10:17 PM EDT

Journalist who covered Trump’s rally in Tulsa tests positive for coronavirus

Oklahoma Watch reporter Paul Monies was notified Friday that he tested positive for the coronavirus, nearly week after covering President Trump’s rally in Tulsa.

“I’m pretty surprised,” Monies tweeted. “I have zero symptoms (so far) and I feel fine. In fact, I ran 5 miles this morning.”

Monies wrote on Twitter that there was a “good chance” he could have got infected while covering the rally, where he notes he did wear a mask the entire time. Monies told the Associated Press that he has not been contacted yet by contact tracers to try and determine everyone who he has been in contact with over the last two weeks.

Instead, he has personally started to reach out to individuals he has been close to in the past 14 days.

Health officials had warned that the indoor venue and crowd in Tulsa could help spread the coronavirus, putting attendees and others at risk.

“I’m concerned about our ability to protect anyone who attends a large, indoor event,” Bruce Dart, the director of Tulsa’s health department, told the Tulsa World before the rally. “And I’m also concerned about our ability to ensure the president stays safe.”

By Samantha Pell
June 26, 2020 at 9:55 PM EDT

Europe prepares to reopen to foreign travelers, but Americans don’t even figure into the discussion

BRUSSELS — European diplomats are poised to approve an agreement on which foreign travelers they want to welcome starting on July 1, as the European Union reopens its external borders for the first time since March, but with the coronavirus still raging in the United States, the possibility of allowing American tourists hasn’t even figured into the discussion, according to six diplomats familiar with the talks.

Europe’s draft in-and-out list reflects its assessment of how well other countries have managed to control their outbreaks. E.U. countries were among the world’s hardest hit by the pandemic this spring, but most now have the virus under control and have been willing to consider opening their borders to other countries where the novel coronavirus is similarly in check.

China is among the 15 countries set to make the cut, despite E.U. skepticism about how transparent it has been about its outbreak. Visitors from China would be allowed to enter Europe only if Beijing drops measures against E.U. travelers.

Read more here.

By Michael Birnbaum and Quentin Ariès
June 26, 2020 at 9:40 PM EDT

Miami-Dade beaches to close over Fourth of July holiday weekend

Beaches in Miami-Dade County in Florida will close over the Fourth of July weekend out of concerns for social distancing amid the pandemic.

Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez released a statement Friday saying that he will sign an executive order closing all county beaches starting July 3 through July 7 and will also restrict any gatherings and parades of more than 50 people during that time. In those situations, masks and social distancing are required, and five groups of no more than 10 people will be allowed.

Additionally, residents will be limited to their homes or parked vehicles for viewing fireworks shows, as parks will be off limits.

“As we continue to see more COVID-19 positive test results among young adults and rising hospitalizations, I have decided that the only prudent thing to do to tamp down this recent uptick is to crack down on recreational activities that put our overall community at higher risk,” Gimenez wrote in his statement.

Gimenez said the Miami-Dade Police Department will close establishments that are flaunting the social distancing and mask rules and capacity limits. Additionally, violators could face a second-degree criminal penalty of up to $500 and 180 days in jail.

“I have been seeing too many businesses and people ignoring these lifesaving rules,” Gimenez wrote in his statement. “If people are not going to be responsible and protect themselves and others from this pandemic, then the government is forced to step in and restore common sense to save lives.”

By Samantha Pell
June 26, 2020 at 9:21 PM EDT

Six states see record number of new cases

As the United States logged a record number of infections Friday, six states announced record-high single-day case totals. The states: Georgia, Utah, South Carolina, Tennessee, Idaho and Florida.

Georgia reported four straight days of more than 1,700 new daily infections and two days in a row of records. The 1,900 cases reported by state health officials Friday surpassed the previous record, 1,714 cases, announced Thursday.

The seven-day average of new infections also hit a new high — 1,569 — and has been rising steadily since late May. That figure is up about 77 percent from a week ago and nearly 115 percent since Memorial Day.

In Utah, the single-day case total hit 676 and set a record for the fourth day in a row. The rolling average has also been on a steady upward swing for 10 days.

Hospitalizations of confirmed covid-19 patients in Utah are rising quickly, from 149 a week ago to 174 on Friday. Hospitalizations were at 102 when the month began.

South Carolina’s 1,301 new cases and its rolling average of 1,094 also set records. The state started the month with an average of 281 daily cases.

Tennessee announced 1,410 new infections, surpassing its previous single-day record by more than 200 cases.

Hospitalizations also are rising in South Carolina and Tennessee.

Idaho announced 283 new cases, up from its previous high of 243, set Wednesday.

Record-high seven-day case averages were reported by thirteen states: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Washington.

In addition to the states that set records, Louisiana has joined the states with rapidly increasing case numbers. Health officials announced 1,354 new cases Friday, compared with 523 two weeks ago and none in the two weeks before that.

By Marisa Iati and Jacqueline Dupree
June 26, 2020 at 9:05 PM EDT

Texas governor admits the state reopened bars too early

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) admitted Friday that he reopened bars too soon in the state as cases continue to surge.

“If I could go back and redo anything, it probably would have been to slow down the opening of bars now seeing the aftermath of how quickly the coronavirus spreads in the bar setting,” Abbott said in an evening interview with KVIA in El Paso.

Abbott issued an executive order Friday that said bars should be shuttered by noon to all but carryout and drive-through customers, while restaurants, which are currently running at 75 percent, must scale back their operating capacity to 50 percent by Monday. Bars in Texas were permitted to open at 25 percent capacity in mid-May, and it only increased from there.

When asked why he didn’t shut down bars earlier, Abbott said he decided to issue the order on Friday because officials “didn’t want to wind up with something like mass gatherings that would spread even more.”

On Friday, Texas reported 5,707 new cases. It is the fourth day in a row that the state has reported more than 5,000 cases. The state set a single-day record high with 5,996 on Thursday. Texas hospitalizations have now crossed the 5,000 mark, with the state reporting 5,102 current coronavirus-related patients.

Around the state, hospitals are expanding capacity in anticipation of a surge in patients come mid-July.

“People go to bars to get close and to drink and to socialize, and that is the type of thing that stokes the spread of the coronavirus. . . . So sure, in hindsight it would have been better to slow the opening of the bar setting,” Abbott said.

By Samantha Pell
June 26, 2020 at 9:00 PM EDT

Fauci says rapid uptick in cases in specific communities is a ‘disturbing trend’

The surge of infections happening in several states is a “disturbing trend” that complicates locating the source of an outbreak, Anthony S. Fauci, the top U.S. infectious-disease expert, said Friday.

In an interview with Los Angeles-based radio station KNX 1070, Fauci said determining how the virus is spreading in a particular place is complicated by the fact that scientists now think that 20 to 40 percent of those infected — particularly young people — have no symptoms.

Isolating infected people and tracing their contacts is insufficient, he said, and should be combined with sending workers who are knowledgeable about the virus into the affected communities to help people understand why they should get tested.

“We need to kind of flood the system, not only with testing, but we need to flood it with workers who understand the community, people that are trusted in the community, to be able to figure out what’s going on here,” Fauci said.

Fauci said the virus’s quick spread in states including Florida, Texas and California can be attributed to the actions of governments and residents — societal responsibility and personal responsibility. A state’s leadership may have adhered to public-health advice in reopening, but Fauci said residents can ruin that progress by treating precautions as all-or-nothing.

Although visiting a crowded bar without a mask is unlikely to kill most young people, he urged the public to consider how their actions affect those at higher risk.

“You’re either part of the problem, or you’re part of the solution,” Fauci said.

By Marisa Iati
June 26, 2020 at 8:38 PM EDT

Rise in cases forces San Francisco to slow its reopening

San Francisco is temporarily delaying reopening steps scheduled for Monday amid the rapid rise in cases throughout the city, Mayor London Breed (D) said.

Monday was supposed to mark the reopening of businesses such as outdoor bars, hair salons, barber shops, zoos, museums, tattoo parlors, massage parlors and nail salons.

Breed made the announcement Friday while at San Francisco General Hospital. She also posted the decision on Twitter, writing that the city’s reopening process is “guided by data and science.” She noted that though San Francisco still has a low number of cases overall, the count was “rising rapidly.”

Thursday, the city recorded 103 positive cases, Breed said. On June 15, when the city reopened outdoor dining and in-store retail, only 20 cases were reported.

“At our current rate, the number could double rapidly,” Breed wrote in a tweet. “If that continues & we don’t intervene, we’ll be at such a high number that our only option would be to shut down.”

As of Friday, San Francisco County had reported a total of 3,252 confirmed coronavirus infections and 48 deaths caused by covid-19. California reported 4,890 new cases Friday for a total of 200,461.

By Samantha Pell
June 26, 2020 at 8:21 PM EDT

Disney moves ‘Mulan’ to August as Hollywood throws in the towel on July

And then there were none.

“Mulan,” the last major Hollywood movie set to come out in July, has been postponed by Disney. It will now come out on Aug. 21, at the tail end of summer, with the hope of catching fire and playing through September.

The move means that the month of July — which in recent years has seen mega-blockbusters from “The Lion King” to “The Dark Knight,” “Transformers” to many “Harry Potter” films — will not have a major new movie for the first time in the modern era. On Thursday, Warner Bros. moved “Tenet,” its Christopher Nolan film with high commercial hopes, from July to Aug. 12.

The postponement dashes the hopes of theater-owners, studios and many consumers of a cinematic revival this summer after a nearly four-month shutdown due to the covid-19 pandemic.

Read the story here.

By Steven Zeitchik
June 26, 2020 at 7:47 PM EDT

NBA forges ahead with plans for Disney restart: ‘No options are risk-free’

The NBA’s show will go on near Orlando next month despite a dramatic rise in novel coronavirus cases in Florida as well as player concerns about social justice issues.

After weeks of talks, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association announced Friday that they have finalized plans for the resumption of the season within a protected bubble at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World. The plan, which calls for 22 teams to begin traveling to Florida on July 7 and to begin games July 30, was agreed to in principle June 5 but was threatened both by the spread of the coronavirus and by a group of players who felt resuming games might distract from the nationwide protests of racial injustice after George Floyd’s death while in Minneapolis police custody.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the league and the players’ union share the belief that their “deliberate, intentional and collaborative” plan will provide a safe environment even though Florida reported nearly 9,000 new cases Friday.

Read more here.

By Ben Golliver
June 26, 2020 at 7:37 PM EDT

American Airlines announces social distancing on flights will end July 1

After capping the number of people on flights since April, American Airlines announced Friday that its planes will likely be full in a few days.

“As more people continue to travel, customers may notice that flights are booked to capacity starting July 1,” the airline said in a news release. “American will continue to notify customers and allow them to move to more open flights when available, all without incurring any cost.”

The carrier said passengers could potentially — if there’s room, and if there are no restrictions due to weight or balance — move to other seats in the cabin if they’re seated next to someone they don’t know.

Read more here.

By Hannah Sampson
June 26, 2020 at 7:19 PM EDT

Infections surge among Texas first responders as cases jump statewide

Public-safety officials in two of Texas’s biggest cities reported this week that dozens of firefighters and police officers have tested positive for the coronavirus as cases rise quickly across the state.

In Houston, where officials said the outbreak was getting “out of control,” 186 firefighters are quarantined because of exposure to the virus — an increase of more than 150 percent from three weeks ago — and at least 104 firefighters have tested positive. Of those who had confirmed infections, 54 had returned to work, Chief Samuel Peña said.

“Taking over 200 firefighters out of the game, so to speak, is having an impact on our ability to service this community,” he said at a news conference Friday.

Meanwhile, Houston police said 205 officers have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began. One hundred fifty-eight officers are quarantined, 130 of whom have confirmed infections.

Eleven police detectives in Dallas tested positive between last Friday and Tuesday evening, the Dallas Morning News reported. Twenty more employees who work in units with the infected officers have been quarantined as a precaution or while they await test results, according to the newspaper.

The announcements come as the coronavirus spreads quickly across Texas, which started June with a rolling average of 1,273 cases and reported 4,903 on Friday. Hospitalizations have also shot up in recent days: 5,102 people were hospitalized as of Friday, compared with 3,148 a week ago.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) reimposed restrictions on bars, restaurants and some types of outdoor recreation in response to the surge in infections and a growing number of hospitalizations.

By Marisa Iati
June 26, 2020 at 6:40 PM EDT

Philadelphia issues mandatory mask order as city considers delaying reopening plans

Philadelphia officials issued a mandatory mask order Friday as the city also considered delaying future reopening plans, according to the city’s top health official.

Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said Friday that the city has averaged more than 100 positive coronavirus cases per day in the past week — an increase compared with what the city had previously been seeing — and reported 143 new cases Friday, totaling 25,693 since the beginning of the epidemic.

“The news about the epidemic is very much mixed,” Farley said. “The first wave of the epidemic appears to be ending and at the same time, a second wave is beginning, so we all need to be concerned.”

While Philadelphia continued with its planned reopening Friday of residential swim clubs, private pools, barbershops and nail salons, Farley said the city is reconsidering other activities for a future phase that was set to start July 3.

Officials will continue to monitor the epidemic over the weekend. As of Friday, the city had not seen a decrease in cases over four weeks, and officials were not sure the city could meet the daily case targets needed to move into the next phase.

“Right now, we are not ready” to go to the next phase, Farley said, adding, “We may need to pause on starting those activities.”

Regarding the mask order, Farley said it is for all indoor public places and outdoors where people cannot be less than six feet apart. The order will not be enforced by police, Farley said. Officials are also asking residents to avoid social gatherings, because the city has also seen community spread.

By Samantha Pell
June 26, 2020 at 6:10 PM EDT

‘Don’t be a sheep’: Sheriffs rebel against new statewide mask requirements

Hours after Gov. Jay Inslee (D) ordered Washington state residents to cover their faces in public, a Republican sheriff in a rural swath of the state’s southwest suggested that they should be doing no such thing.

“Here’s what I say,” Lewis County Sheriff Robert Snaza told the crowd outside a church Tuesday, carrying a megaphone and sporting his green and beige uniform but no face mask. “Don’t be a sheep.”

Few of the people cheering on Snaza covered their faces either, according to video of the scene taken by the Daily Chronicle of Centralia, Wash. Indeed, the words on a billboard above the crowd seemed to capture their feeling about the pandemic: “Oh, no! A virus. Quick — burn the bill of rights.”

With coronavirus infections rapidly spreading across the American South and West and more states making masks a requirement, dozens of sheriffs such as Snaza are staging a rebellion against state governments. An adherence to their interpretation of Constitution, they say, comes before any kind of public health advice.

Read more here.

By Teo Armus
June 26, 2020 at 5:52 PM EDT

Dow tumbles 730 points as coronavirus flare-ups force states to push back reopening

Rising coronavirus infections roiled investors Friday, sending stocks into a sharp decline as big-economy states such as Texas and Florida paused reopening to try to halt the spread.

The Dow Jones industrial average slid 730.05 points, about 2.8 percent, to close at 25,015.55. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index was down 2.4 percent, and the Nasdaq lost 2.6 percent.

The sell-off came after Texas and Florida ordered bars to close and imposed new restrictions to mitigate a surge in cases. Arizona, South Carolina, Idaho and other states also are reporting spikes.

Read more here.

By Thomas Heath and Hannah Denham
June 26, 2020 at 5:27 PM EDT

Rep. Liz Cheney shares photo of her dad, Dick Cheney, in a mask with the hashtag #realmenwearmasks

The third-highest ranking House Republican endorsed facial coverings Friday with a photo on Twitter of her father in a cowboy hat and blue disposable mask and the caption: “Dick Cheney says WEAR A MASK.”

She added the hashtag #realmenwearmasks.

The tweet from House GOP Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney (Wyo.) came just hours after Vice President Pence struggled to defend the politicization of wearing a mask.

Also Friday, Trump’s former defense secretary, Jim Mattis, who has been vocal in his criticism of the president since leaving the job in 2019, starred in a public service announcement for his hometown of Richland, Wash., urging people to wear masks.

“Hello neighbors, I’m Jim Mattis,” he says in a video posted to the town’s YouTube page. “I’m here to talk about that nasty little virus, covid. … It’s clear this little bugger isn’t going away on its own.”

“Wear those face coverings,” he said, “and let’s work together on this to beat covid.”

By Colby Itkowitz
June 26, 2020 at 4:31 PM EDT

San Antonio health director resigns as many public health officers around the U.S. exit

As Texas struggles to contain its surging infection rate, the health director in the state’s second-largest city abruptly resigned from her post Thursday.

San Antonio City Manager Erik Walsh confirmed Friday that Metro Health Director Dawn Emerick submitted her resignation after less than six months on the job, nearly all of which was consumed by the pandemic. Emerick started in the position just as San Antonio’s Lackland Air Force Base started receiving coronavirus evacuees from Grand Princess cruise ships.

“Public health officials in this country probably have the most difficult job right now. I probably say it’s more difficult than being a police chief,” Walsh said following a Friday news conference. He praised Emerick for working “tirelessly” at a seven-day-a-week effort and expressed thanks for her service.

Emerick did not give a reason for her resignation and could not immediately be reached for comment, but a city’s top health official departing during the height of a global health crisis is becoming less unusual in the context of the U.S. response to the coronavirus: More than 20 health officials have resigned, retired or been fired in recent weeks facing threats, harassment, burnout and undermining, The Washington Post reported this week.

Though Emerick had not commented on her exit as of Friday, the day before submitting her resignation she shared The Post’s story on health officials exiting and said, “Executive leaders are not the only people experiencing this external and internal pressure. It’s wreaking havoc on staff throughout the entire system regardless of pay grade.”

Colleen Bridger, San Antonio’s assistant city manager and Emerick’s supervisor, planned to leave her role in July. Walsh said it was not clear who would take over but that Emerick would be discussing “transition” plans Friday.

By Kim Bellware
June 26, 2020 at 3:59 PM EDT

Almost one-third of black Americans know someone who died of covid-19, survey shows

Nearly 1 in 3 black Americans know someone personally who has died of covid-19, far exceeding their white counterparts, according to a Washington Post-Ipsos poll that underscores the coronavirus pandemic’s profoundly disparate impact.

The nationwide survey finds that 31 percent of black adults say they know someone firsthand who has been killed by the virus, compared with 17 percent of adults who are Hispanic and 9 percent who are white.

Adding in those who know someone with symptoms consistent with covid-19, slightly more than half of black Americans say they know at least one person who has gotten sick or died of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Fewer than 4 in 10 white or Hispanic Americans say they do.

Taken together, the poll’s findings attest to sharp racial differences in the sense that the virus is close at hand, after nearly a half-year in which it has sparked the nation’s worst public health calamity in more than a century.

Read more here.

By Amy Goldstein and Emily Guskin
June 26, 2020 at 3:39 PM EDT

Trump administration delays end to management of five coronavirus testing sites

The Trump administration official coordinating tests for the novel coronavirus did a partial pivot Friday, announcing that the government would briefly extend its management of five testing sites in Texas, a state with a recent spike of cases and hospitalizations.

Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health in the Department of Health and Human Services, issued a statement Friday afternoon saying the department had agreed to continue to run the sites for two weeks beyond June 30, when they were to have transferred to state or local control.

According to an HHS spokeswoman and a spokesman for the Houston Health Department, two sites are in Houston and two in surrounding Harris County. The other is in Dallas, according to HHS.

“They are surging right now, and we are sensitive to what they need,” said HHS spokeswoman Mia Heck, who said federal officials will reassess with Texas officials what should happen after the two-week extension.

The five sites are among 13 — including two more in Texas — the federal government has staffed and paid for under the earliest phase of a community-based coronavirus testing program that began in March. They were originally to have been handed to state or local control last month, with Congress having provided money for testing, but federal officials agreed to continue control through June.

As that deadline approaches, the sites became a source of controversy, with Houston’s mayor and other Texas officials complaining the switch would strain their resources as coronavirus cases in the area surge.

By Amy Goldstein
June 26, 2020 at 3:22 PM EDT

Citing pandemic, prosecutors back delay for Roger Stone to report to prison

Federal prosecutors won’t oppose Roger Stone’s request for a 60-day delay to the start of his prison sentence, citing a policy during the pandemic to give some defendants more time before reporting to facilities that have often become coronavirus hotbeds.

Stone, a Trump ally who was convicted last year of witness tampering and lying to Congress, is scheduled to report to a Georgia prison on June 30. Stone, 67, asked the court Tuesday for a delay “in light of his heightened risk of serious medical consequences from exposure to the COVID-19” — a danger he also described on Instagram as a “DEEP STATE DEATH SENTENCE.”

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, apparently skeptical of the unopposed request, demanded on Wednesday that prosecutors present a detailed explanation of why they would accept such a delay. In a late-night Thursday filing first reported by Politico, Michael R. Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, said the Justice Department’s current policy is to grant delays “without respect to age, health, or other COVID-19 risk factors.”

“For that reason — and that reason only — the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Columbia does not oppose defendant Roger J. Stone’s request to extend his voluntary surrender date for up to 60 days,” Sherwin wrote.

Read more here.

By Tim Elfrink
June 26, 2020 at 2:57 PM EDT

Antibodies found in 42 percent of residents of Austrian ski resort, one of Europe’s earliest clusters

More than 40 percent of residents of an Austrian ski resort town that was one of Europe’s first known clusters have displayed coronavirus antibodies, in what scientists who led the research say could be the world’s highest infection rate.

The study also found that of those with antibodies, only 15 percent had tested positive for covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, leading researchers to suggest that up to 85 percent of those infected may not have shown symptoms or known it.

Seventy-nine percent of the 1,500 residents of Ischgl, the Alpine ski town, took part in the study, led by the Medical University of Innsbruck’s Institute of Virology.

“The seroprevalence of study participants from Ischgl is 42.4%,” the head of the study, Dorothee von Laer, said in a statement.

“We are dealing in Ischgl with the highest seroprevalence ever proven in a study. Even though at that rate herd immunity cannot be assumed, Ischgl’s population should be protected (from the virus) to a large extent,” she added.

Ischgl’s first positive case was confirmed March 7, a week after Iceland altered Austrian authorities that it suspected several of its citizens had caught the virus while on holiday there.

But scientists think the virus was circulating even earlier.

“The virus has circulated under the radar screen as early as the second half of February according to all our research,” von Laer said, Bloomberg News reported.

By Miriam Berger
June 26, 2020 at 2:36 PM EDT

Toddler girl dies of covid-19 in Tennessee, officials say

A young girl has died of covid-19 in Tennessee — the second child under the age of 10 to die of the disease in Hamilton County, according to local news reports.

The child was identified by the medical examiner’s office as a “young, Hispanic girl with no medical conditions,” according to reporting from ABC affiliate News Channel 9.

“The Health Department grieves with the family and the community for the loss of this child,” Becky Barnes, the county health department’s administrator, said in a statement obtained by the news station.

Hamilton County officials told News Channel 9 that the girl’s family checked her into the Children’s Hospital at Erlanger in Chattanooga on Father’s Day. She died the next day.

The child’s death comes months after the county reported the coronavirus-related death on April 1 in a child under the age of 5. The health department said that of the 2,322 cases in the county, 60 percent of the people infected have been Hispanic and 10 of the 29 deaths were members of the Hispanic community.

By Katie Mettler
June 26, 2020 at 2:19 PM EDT

Pence defends Trump rallies as a constitutional right, deflects question about masks

Vice President Pence defended President Trump’s decision to continue holding campaign rallies, claiming people who attended Trump’s political event in Oklahoma last week used “common sense” and are “being responsible.”

“Well, the freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assemble is enshrined in the Constitution of the United States, and we have an election coming up this fall,” Pence began when asked why the Trump campaign was holding rallies despite guidance against large gatherings.

“The important thing is it is not one size fits all,” Pence added.

The answer contradicted comments minutes earlier from Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious-disease expert, who said that “even ones that have been doing well are going to be vulnerable to the spread” if everyone doesn’t make efforts to stop the outbreak.

Pence did not directly answer a question about the politicization of wearing a mask, instead urging people to listen to the guidance of their local and state health officials on the subject of facial coverings.

When it was pointed out that Trump and Pence defied recommendations of public health officials in Oklahoma by holding the rally and not requiring masks, Pence said it’s about “freedom and personal responsibility.”

“I want to remind you again that freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assemble is enshrined in the Constitution of the United States,” Pence said, “and even in a health crisis, the American people don’t forfeit our constitutional rights.”

By Colby Itkowitz
June 26, 2020 at 2:10 PM EDT

Co-founder of ReOpen Maryland says he has tested positive for coronavirus, won’t cooperate with contact tracing

A Maryland man who organized rallies to pressure Gov. Larry Hogan to lift the state’s stay-home order says he has tested positive for the novel coronavirus and does not plan to provide names of people with whom he had contact to public health officials for contact tracing.

Tim Walters, a co-founder of ReOpen Maryland, said on social media earlier in the week that he has had a dry cough for months but it recently worsened. He said he then began to experience an excruciating headache, a fever and the inability to focus in one of his eyes, which led to some vertigo.

Walters, 53, a diabetic who has suffered from mini-strokes in the past, said he went to a hospital emergency room Monday and was diagnosed with the virus.

“Here I am months after not wearing a mask at rallies, churches and so on, and so it’s funny how capricious this thing is,” he said in a Facebook video.

He did not immediately respond to an interview request Friday.

Read more here.

By Ovetta Wiggins
June 26, 2020 at 2:00 PM EDT

Azar says Americans should ‘feel proud’ of Trump’s leadership

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar said that Americans “should feel proud” of President Trump’s leadership on the coronavirus as he took his turn at the lectern during the first White House task force briefing in two months.

“We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but Americans can be confident that we have a rock solid foundation to help us get safely back to work, back to school, back to worship and back to health care while we tackle surges of the virus where they occur,” Azar said.

“Thanks to President Trump’s leadership, we’ve got the capabilities, the knowledge and the strategy to protect Americans’ lives and their livelihoods,” he added. “At the same time, every American should feel proud of that.”

By John Wagner
June 26, 2020 at 1:59 PM EDT

Fauci pleads with Americans not to take risks with coronavirus

Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious-disease doctor, urged Americans to see their role in taking safety precautions as a “societal responsibility” and begged them not to let their guard down, even if the risk to their own health is considered minimal.

“A risk for you is not just isolated to you, because if you get infected, you are part, innocently or inadvertently, of propagating that dynamic process of a pandemic, because the chances are that if you get infected, that you’re going to infect someone else,” Fauci said.

Fauci’s plea — he called it a “plea” — to Americans strikes a different tone than that of President Trump, who has downplayed the threat, and Vice President Pence, who painted a rosier picture of the situation.

Fauci said he was not blaming anyone for the increases in cases seen in states but urged people to consider that the outbreak will not end unless Americans do their part.

“You have an individual responsibility to yourself, but you have a societal responsibility, because if we want to end this outbreak, really end it and then hopefully when a vaccine comes and puts the nail in the coffin, we've got to realize that we are part of the process,” Fauci said.

People can be “either part of the solution or part of the problem,” he added.

By Colby Itkowitz
June 26, 2020 at 1:52 PM EDT

Trump cancels weekend trip to New Jersey golf club

President Trump canceled plans Friday to spend the weekend at his Bedminster, N.J., golf club, a trip that had drawn scrutiny because of new travel restrictions put in place by New Jersey and other states in the region.

The White House did not offer a reason for the change in plans, but spokesman Judd Deere said it had “nothing to do” with concerns about a recently announced policy.

Earlier in the week, Trump traveled to Arizona, one of the states seeing a sharp rise in cases. The governors of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut are requiring visitors from such states to quarantine for 14 days — a policy the White House said Trump did not plan to follow.

Trump was scheduled to depart for New Jersey on Friday afternoon.

By John Wagner
June 26, 2020 at 1:44 PM EDT

Portugal to reimpose lockdowns for 700,000 people in Greater Lisbon

Portugal is reinstating lockdown measures in some parts of Greater Lisbon starting next week after a worrying rise in cases in communities in the capital’s outskirts. The rollbacks contrast with the country’s efforts to attract much-needed summer tourism, even as other weary European countries impose restrictions on travelers from Portugal.

The latest measures, which will begin Wednesday, will affect nearly 700,000 people in 19 civil parishes around the capital. Residents of these areas will be allowed to leave their homes only for essential goods and work-related travel.

“The only effective way to control the pandemic is to stay home whenever possible, keep physical distance at all times and always maintain protection and hygiene standards,” Prime Minister António Costa said at a news conference Thursday, Reuters reported.

The restrictions will last two weeks and then be reconsidered.

Portugal’s government declared an end to the country’s “state of calamity” Thursday, the same day officials issued a slew of other new rules for Greater Lisbon, such as ordering shops and restaurants to close by 8 p.m. and banning street markets and the sale of alcohol in some establishments. Residents of the affected areas will additionally be banned from congregating in groups larger than five, whereas groups of up to 10 are permitted elsewhere in Lisbon and up to 20 in the rest of the country.

The police can fine those caught breaking the rules up to $5,600.

When the pandemic officially hit Europe in March, Portugal acted swiftly and was able to contain its outbreak far better than neighbors such as Spain. But since it began reopening in May, secret parties and raves coupled with clusters in industrial areas and poorer neighborhoods have driven cases up.

The country has more than 40,000 confirmed infections and 1,459 deaths related to covid-19.

Tourism is a major driver of Portugal’s economy, bringing in more than $20 billion last year, Politico reported.

By Miriam Berger
June 26, 2020 at 1:25 PM EDT

Florida reports nearly 9,000 new coronavirus cases, blowing past previous single-day record

Coronavirus cases continued to skyrocket in Florida, where health officials Friday reported 8,942 new infections, eclipsing a previous single-day record of 5,511 set just two days ago.

Fatalities in the state also appeared to be trending upward, with 39 new deaths announced Friday.

The state has ramped up diagnostic testing recently, but the rate of positive cases has climbed significantly over the past two weeks — a clear sign that the spread of the virus is accelerating. More than 13 percent of the most recent tests came back positive, according to Florida health officials, up from about 5 to 7 percent earlier in the month.

Hospitalizations have also increased. State officials have not released complete hospitalization data, but tracking by academic researchers and Florida news outlets shows that hospitals in some of the densest parts of the state are seeing surges in patients.

The state has recorded a new seven-day average high in cases every day for the past 19 days, according to tracking by The Washington Post. Average cases are up nearly 77 percent from a week ago and 526 percent since Memorial Day.

The sharp increases are fueling concerns that Florida — where Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has pushed an aggressive reopening strategy — is fast emerging as a new epicenter for the virus in the United States.

Faced with the alarming numbers, state officials Friday abruptly suspended alcohol consumption at bars statewide.

By Derek Hawkins and Jacqueline Dupree
June 26, 2020 at 1:18 PM EDT

Pence: It’s ‘a good thing’ new cases are among younger Americans

Vice President Pence said during a White House coronavirus task force news briefing that it is “very encouraging news” and a “good thing” that half of the increasing cases in Florida and Texas are among Americans under 35.

That is “very encouraging news, as the experts tell us, because as we know so far in this pandemic that younger Americans are less susceptible to serious outcomes of the coronavirus,” Pence said. “And the fact that we are finding more younger Americans who’ve contracted the coronavirus is a good thing.”

Critics immediately noted that most countries are seeing total positive cases going down regardless of age. Others pointed out that while people under 35 may not be as vulnerable, the people they come in contact with could be — something Pence later acknowledged as well.

“None of us would want to bring the disease back to our parents or grandparents, moms and dads, an elderly friend or a friend who has an immunodeficiency and cause a serious outcome as well,” Pence said. “Younger Americans have a particular responsibility to make sure that they’re not carrying coronavirus into settings where they would expose the most vulnerable.”

By Colby Itkowitz
June 26, 2020 at 1:08 PM EDT

Pence says all 50 states ‘opening up safely and responsibly’

Vice President Pence claimed that all 50 states “are opening up safely and responsibly” as he began the first White House coronavirus task force news briefing in nearly two months.

Pence acknowledged that cases have been rising “precipitously” in some states, largely in the South, and announced that he and other task force officials would travel to Texas, Arizona and Florida in the coming days for on-the-ground reports.

But in his opening remarks, the vice president praised the work of the administration more broadly, crediting President Trump’s leadership in addressing the virus.

“We have made truly remarkable progress in moving our nation forward,” he said. “We’ve all seen the encouraging news as we open up America again.”

The task force briefing comes as officials in Texas and Florida are reinstating some restrictions in response to rising caseloads there.

Trump, who was a regular fixture at earlier task force briefings, is not participating in Friday’s briefing.

By John Wagner
June 26, 2020 at 12:47 PM EDT

Florida abruptly shuts down bars to indoor patrons as state faces rising infection rate

Florida’s bars must shut down on-site alcohol consumption effective immediately, state officials said in an abrupt announcement Friday.

The shutdown order, issued by Florida’s Secretary of Department of Business & Professional Regulation Halsey Beshears, comes three weeks after Florida reopened most bars following months of statewide shutdowns to curb the spread of covid-19.

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has resisted taking more aggressive measures on closures and mandates on mask wearing and social distancing, arguing such decisions should be made at the local level.

But now DeSantis and other state leaders such as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who critics say reopened their states too quickly, are facing pressure now that surging infection rates threaten to outstrip hospital capacity as soon as mid-July.

On Thursday, DeSantis and Abbott both paused moving into the next phases of their states’ reopening plans. Both states have hit a record high number of cases every day for more than two weeks straight.

DeSantis has sought to blame the surging infections his state, now a hot spot for the outbreak in the United States, on farmworkers, anti-police brutality protests and an increase in testing — while simultaneously courting the Republican National Convention to be held in Florida.

The RNC announced in mid-June it would relocate its conference to Jacksonville, Fla., from Charlotte, after President Trump balked at North Carolina’s social distancing requirements. The move has prompted growing concerns that a convention will only exacerbate the virus spread. According to data tracked by The Washington Post, cases in Duval County, which includes Jacksonville, have nearly doubled in the past two weeks.

By Kim Bellware
June 26, 2020 at 12:34 PM EDT

British health secretary threatens to close England’s beaches amid heat-wave chaos

LONDON — Britain’s health secretary, Matt Hancock, said the government has the power to close beaches in England if coronavirus infections rise as a result of people defying social distancing measures at seaside towns during the current heat wave.

Temperatures across the country climbed to a rare high of 33.4 degrees Celsius (about 92 Fahrenheit) this week, sparking chaos at seaside resorts such as Bournemouth, where a “major incident” was declared Thursday as half a million people descended on its beach to soak up the sun.

“If we see a spike in the number of cases, then we will take action,” Hancock said in an interview with Talk Radio on Thursday after images of sun-seekers cramming onto the coastline swiftly went viral.

The scenes stunned many around the world who voiced concerns over a second wave in Britain — the worst-hit country in Europe, with more than 43,000 recorded deaths.

“Go Home!” exclaimed the front page of the Daily Express, while the Daily Mail’s cover read, “Don’t throw it all away,” citing Hancock’s plea for the public not to undo months of work carried out in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.

“3 tons of rubbish picked up by myself and volunteers at Durdle Door,” a local in Dorset tweeted Thursday, sharing images of the litter left behind at the landmark on the Jurassic Coast.

John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, expressed concern Friday that many young Brits do not consider the pandemic a threat and warned that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to open pubs next week could have grave consequences.

“I am concerned that we have a pressure cooker building up, a perfect storm,” he said. “This could just be the beginning.”

By Jennifer Hassan
June 26, 2020 at 12:06 PM EDT

Pelosi slams Trump for refusal to wear a mask, efforts to dismantle ACA

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she was in a bad mood Friday after the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court overnight to kill the Affordable Care Act even as coronavirus cases rise again in the country.

“I’m in a mood because this is a matter of life and death, and this administration has failed miserably,” Pelosi said during a news conference. “It’s about justice. It’s about justice and policing. It’s about justice in health care and recognizing that the coronavirus is having a disproportionate impact on communities of color.”

She slammed Trump for his refusal to wear a mask despite the consensus from public health experts that doing so slows the spread of the virus.

“So when the president of the United States says he doesn’t want to wear a mask and understands the bad example, well, I don’t know if he understands anything, but somebody over there must understand the bad example that is to the country.”

Pelosi said she’s “dismayed,” that during “two days in a row of record numbers of cases, one of those days the president wants to overturn access to affordable quality care.”

By Colby Itkowitz
June 26, 2020 at 10:40 AM EDT

Texas governor orders bars to close early and restaurants to cut capacity as cases surge

Less than a day after announcing the state would pause reopening plans but not revert to stricter measures as covid-19 infections and hospitalizations surge in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued an executive order Friday that revives restrictions on bars, restaurants and certain types of outdoor recreation.

Bars must shutter by noon to all but carryout and drive-through customers, while restaurants, which are currently running at 75 percent, must scale back their operating capacity to 50 percent by Monday. Additionally, Abbott’s order shuts down river rafting and tubing, a popular outdoor recreation in Texas.

Most indoor businesses can continue to operate at the state’s current Phase 3 capacity of 50 percent, although child care, youth camps and churches have no limits. Most gatherings of more than 100 are prohibited but subject to greater restrictions if local officials demand them.

Abbott’s order Friday morning is an about-face from a Thursday announcement in which he said the state would pause its current Phase 3 of reopening but not move backward.

“The last thing we want to do as a state is go backward and close down businesses, ” he wrote in a Thursday news release, adding the “pause will help our state corral the spread.”

Abbott’s reluctance to take more aggressive action amid Texas’s outbreak has been criticized by officials like Austin Mayor Steve Adler (D), who on Friday said during a CNN appearance that the state’s current path “has us in danger.”

Around the state, hospitals are expanding capacity in anticipation of a surge in patients come mid-July.

By Kim Bellware
June 26, 2020 at 10:35 AM EDT

Delayed mortgage payments rose by nearly 80,000

In another sign that hopes of a swift economic recovery may be losing steam, the number of homeowners delaying their mortgage payments has shot up, reflecting increasing financial burdens on American borrowers as the coronavirus ravages businesses and forces steep job losses.

In the past week, the number of borrowers in forbearance plans increased by 79,000, with homeowners pushing back their monthly mortgage payments for at least three months and reversing what had been an improvement in forbearance data in June.

The number of delayed payment plans had been declining for three consecutive weeks, according to mortgage technology and data company Black Knight, cited by CNBC. But the latest figures highlight how many borrowers continue to face financial hardship during the pandemic.

The trend reversal brings the number of mortgages in forbearance to 8.8 percent, up from 8.7 percent the week prior, which amounts to 4.68 million homeowners delaying their payments, according to the report. Part of the federal government’s coronavirus aid package, the $2 trillion Cares Act, offered U.S. homeowners the ability to sign up for mortgage relief programs. The missed payments can be paid back when the home is sold, by changing the mortgage loan or through repayment plans.

Since the legislation was enacted, the number of homeowners in forbearance or in active foreclosure has more than doubled, Black Knight said, sending the nation’s delinquency rate to its highest level in more than eight years.

By Hamza Shaban
June 26, 2020 at 10:34 AM EDT

As Americans weigh returning to school and work, the race to make buildings safe from coronavirus

As Americans contemplate returning to schools, offices and other indoor spaces they fled under threat of the deadly virus this spring, building managers are figuring out how to reopen safely and prevent infection. They’re focused on spaces where the virus can spread, from workspaces to bathrooms to elevators and heating, ventilation and cooling systems — and balancing the cost and practicality of changes.

Experts are recommending a menu of measures, many of which call for different ways of circulating and filtering the air.

But these steps are often expensive, rarely mandatory and generally require help from professional engineers. And they can run counter to modern building design, which aims to seal the so-called building envelope to reduce heating and cooling costs. In the time of coronavirus, the new goal is to bring in more fresh air.

By Chris Mooney, Perry Stein and Aaron Steckelberg
June 26, 2020 at 10:08 AM EDT

McCarthy ties spike in coronavirus cases to protests of racial injustice

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) suggested Friday that nationwide protests against racial injustice were largely responsible for the spike in coronavirus cases that have led to record-setting numbers of new cases in recent days, despite a lack of evidence supporting such a connection.

McCarthy, the highest-ranking Republican in the House, was asked during an appearance on Fox News whether he was concerned about spikes in such states as Texas, Florida, Arizona and his home state of California — and whether that could have an impact on President Trump’s reelection prospects.

“I have a real concern,” McCarthy said. “Remember, we’re coming after where we saw those thousands of young people and others coming out to protest. It was a concern that they were close to one another. Now we’re seeing the outcome from that.”

While health experts cautioned that such mass gatherings could accelerate the spread of the virus, there has been scant evidence that the uptick in cases is closely correlated with states with the largest protests. In fact, one study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found no evidence that the first weeks of protests following the death of George Floyd “reignited COVID-19 case growth.”

During the interview, McCarthy cited an overhead video he had seen of a large gathering of protesters in Los Angeles.

“As more people gather together, they’re not wearing a mask, not washing their hands, not keeping social distance,” he said. “When I watched that drone video of Los Angeles, where it went for a mile, people shoulder-to-shoulder, you knew there was going to see a spike, and now we’re seeing the outcome of that.”

By John Wagner
June 26, 2020 at 9:58 AM EDT

Austin mayor warns that pausing Texas’s reopening ‘will not make things better’

Less than one day after the governor of Texas announced that the state will pause its reopening plan as cases and hospitalizations surge, the mayor of Austin is warning that staying in place will not be enough to shift Texas off its worrisome course.

“Pausing will not making things better,” Mayor Steve Adler (D) said Friday during an appearance on CNN’s “New Day." “The trajectory that we’re on right now has our hospitals being overwhelmed, probably about mid-July.”

Now, some cities in Texas are reviving hospital and capacity expansion plans in anticipation of a surge in patients next month.

Hospitalizations in Texas are up more than 213 percent since Memorial Day, when 1,511 people were being treated for covid-19 in hospitals; as of Thursday, that number was 4,739, according to data tracked by The Washington Post.

Adler attributed Texas’s spiking infection rate to a number of factors, including the state’s move to reopen before expanded testing capacity and contact tracing were in place and not analyzing the existing data before moving through a successive phase of reopening.

Most crucially, Alder said, reopening must include people “religiously” wearing face masks and practicing social distancing, which didn’t happen in Texas.

To curb the growing caseload, people need to act differently, Adler said. “The status quo, the path we’re on right now, is the path that has us in danger.”

By Kim Bellware
June 26, 2020 at 9:26 AM EDT

Gottlieb says surge in cases could mean higher death rate in weeks ahead

Former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Friday morning that the recent surge in reported novel coronavirus cases across the United States could mean a spike in the death rate in the coming weeks, even though those new infections include younger patients who do not necessarily need to be hospitalized.

“We’re going to see the death rate unfortunately go back up,” Gottlieb said. “Hopefully it doesn’t go back up to the levels it was at.”

He noted that in Iran, cases spiked, then began to slow down and plateau, similar to the United States. But then Iran had another spike in infections, and three to four weeks after that, the country’s death rate climbed back to its level at the peak of Iran’s pandemic, Gottlieb said.

For the United States, the next two weeks will be crucial, Gottlieb and other health officials have said.

Across the nation this week, states reported single-day highs for new cases of the virus, pushing the national daily caseload to record levels. Among the hot spots were Florida, Arizona and Texas.

All three paused their reopening plans, and Gottlieb said he believes that individuals will be more cautious on their own, wearing masks and staying home.

If they don’t, he said, the outbreak is going to continue to expand. The question, Gottlieb said, is whether the states are experiencing exponential growth.

“Texas is testing a lot, so they are turning over their cases. Florida is not; Florida testing is actually down,” Gottlieb said. “So Florida may be in worse shape than Texas. We just don’t have as good of a picture into Florida.”

“I would also be very worried about smaller states like South Carolina and Alabama, which don’t have the health-care resources that big states like Texas or Florida or California [do],” Gottlieb said.

By Katie Mettler
June 26, 2020 at 7:50 AM EDT

How France’s skittishness about collecting data on race affects its coronavirus response

PARIS — Karim Allouache felt sick about two days after France’s municipal elections in March, when he ran to represent the Paris suburb of Bondy. His symptoms started as fever and fatigue, but nothing extreme. Then he was in the hospital, where doctors induced a coma and put him on a ventilator for more than three weeks.

Now recovering, Allouache assumes he must have contracted the coronavirus while campaigning. Indeed, the poor and multiracial communities north of the capital have been hit especially hard by the virus, with the department of Seine Saint Denis recording a 120 percent increase in deaths compared with the same period last year.

But Allouache and others say that understanding why has been hindered by France’s skittishness about collecting data on race and ethnicity. While the United States and Britain have found that their racial minorities are dying disproportionately of covid-19, the French government has not conducted that sort of analysis. Critics say France may be limiting its ability to identify and protect vulnerable populations, especially in the event of a second wave of the pandemic.

“For me, I dream of ethnic statistics,” Allouache said. “We are scared of the reality.”

Read more here.

By James McAuley
June 26, 2020 at 7:36 AM EDT

London police chief vows to crack down on illegal parties after more than 20 officers are attacked and injured

London police vowed Friday to crack down on illegal parties, after several gatherings sparked confrontations between violent revelers and officers over the last two days.

“It’s hot, some people have drunk far too much, some people are just angry and aggressive, and some are plain violent,” London Police Commissioner Cressida Dick was quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency. “We’ve seen large numbers of people completely flouting the health regulations, seeming not to care at all about their own or their families’ health, wanting to have large parties.”

More than 20 officers were attacked and injured in London on Wednesday when they tried to break up an illegal party in the south of the capital. More attacks on officers were reported Thursday night.

Almost 140 officers were injured over the last three weeks in London while responding to protests or parties, according to city’s police commissioner.

The violent confrontations come as coronavirus case numbers in the United Kingdom are on the decline and England is set to reopen its pubs by July 4. Mass gatherings will remain banned, however.

Authorities had to declare a “major incident” in Bournemouth, England, and surrounding areas on Thursday, after thousands gathered on beaches there and flouted social distancing rules. Thursday may have been one of the hottest days of 2020 in England. Officials threatened to close beaches in response to the influx of visitors.

By Rick Noack
June 26, 2020 at 7:16 AM EDT

Trump ‘wasted his chance’ to show leadership on coronavirus, Wall Street Journal editorial says

In a blistering editorial warning that President Trump could face a “historic repudiation” in November, the Wall Street Journal criticizes him for having “wasted his chance to show leadership” on the coronavirus pandemic and says his “default now is defensive self-congratulation.”

The staunchly conservative Journal editorial board, which at times has not pulled its punches in assessing Trump’s presidency, writes that his record in fighting the coronavirus “is better than his critics claim after a bad start in late February and March” and credits him for mobilizing federal forces to help hard-hit states.

“But he wasted his chance to show leadership by turning his daily pandemic pressers into brawls with the bear-baiting press and any politician who didn’t praise him to the skies,” the editorial says. “Lately he has all but given up even talking about the pandemic when he might offer realism and hope about the road ahead even as the country reopens. His default now is defensive self-congratulation.”

The Journal also faults Trump for failing to provide “firm but empathetic leadership after the death of George Floyd” and says that Trump may soon need another nickname for Joe Biden other than “Sleepy Joe.”

“How does President-elect sound?” the editorial asks.

By John Wagner
June 26, 2020 at 6:56 AM EDT

Toilet paper limits reintroduced as panic buying returns to Australia

Supermarkets in Australia have been forced to reintroduce limits on toilet paper and other goods to stop a fresh wave of customers from bulk buying unnecessarily. The recent panic is believed to have been triggered by a surge in coronavirus cases in the southeastern state of Victoria.

Woolworths supermarkets announced Friday the reintroduction of a limit of two packs per customer on toilet paper and paper towels in all stores following “a recent surge in demand.” The Coles supermarket chain also implemented buying restrictions on toilet paper, rice, flour and sugar.

Compared with other countries, Australia has had better success in containing the virus, with 7,595 confirmed cases and 104 deaths.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday that Australia’s handling of the virus has been “remarkable,” but he added that there were “some challenges” in Victoria, citing the recent outbreak. Victoria recorded 30 new cases overnight, the 10th consecutive day of double-digit rises.

Other Australian regions have reported none or single-digit daily cases in recent weeks.

Mass testing is taking place in identified hot-spot areas, and the army is being deployed to assist the operation.

Morrison described the behavior of those engaging in panic buying as “ridiculous.” Photos shared on Twitter this week showed empty shelves in grocery aisles in Sydney and Melbourne, as fears of a second wave seemingly spread across the country.

Other countries have also been rocked by toilet paper shortages, forcing shops across Europe to impose limits during the peak of the pandemic.

In April, a British critical care nurse broke down in a video shared on Facebook in which she pleaded with people to stop panic buying. “It’s people like me that are going to be looking after you when you’re at your lowest,” she begged. “Just stop it.”

By Jennifer Hassan
June 26, 2020 at 6:45 AM EDT

Biden says he would require Americans to wear masks in public

Joe Biden said Thursday that if he were president, he would mandate that every American wear a mask in public to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

In an interview with KDKA, the CBS affiliate in Pittsburgh, the presumptive Democratic nominee said he would attempt to leverage federal power to mandate mask wearing.

“The one thing we do know is these masks make a gigantic difference,” he said. “I would insist that everybody out in public be wearing that mask. Anyone to reopen would have to make sure that they walked into a business that had masks.”

When asked whether that meant using executive actions to try to require such actions, Biden said he would use the power of the office.

“Yes, I would,” he said. “From an executive standpoint, yes, I would.”

Asked if that meant he would be effectively mandating that all Americans wear a mask, he responded by saying, “I would do everything possible to make it required that people had to wear masks in public.”

By Matt Viser
June 26, 2020 at 6:43 AM EDT

White House task force plans first news briefing in nearly two months, with no plans for Trump to attend

With record-breaking numbers of new cases sweeping the United States, the White House coronavirus task force is scheduled Friday to hold its first news briefing in nearly two months.

This one, however, will not be held at the White House, and it does not appear that President Trump, who was a fixture in the briefing room in the early days of the crisis, will be present.

Friday’s briefing is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. at the Department of Health and Human Services, with Vice President Pence, the leader of the task force, presiding.

Trump’s daily schedule released by the White House makes no mention of plans to attend. The president is scheduled to receive an intelligence briefing at 11:45 a.m. and has no plans to leave the White House until later in the afternoon, when he will head to his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., for the weekend.

That trip has drawn scrutiny because Trump does not plan to abide by a new travel advisory in New Jersey and nearby states that are telling anyone coming from places hit hard by the coronavirus to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Trump traveled earlier this week to Arizona, among the states designated as hot spots by the governors of Connecticut, New Jersey and New York when they announced their quarantine period Wednesday.

“Anyone traveling in support of the president this weekend will be closely monitored for symptoms and tested for COVID and therefore pose little to no risk to the local populations,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement.

By John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz
June 26, 2020 at 6:22 AM EDT

Local governments eye new taxes to make up for massive budget shortfalls

Cash-starved cities and states across the country are starting to weigh whether to raise taxes on homes, cigarettes, local businesses and global tech giants, hoping to rake in new revenue that might help them close the massive budget shortfalls created by the pandemic.

The increases that have been proposed — and in some cases adopted — reflect growing desperation on the part of government leaders nationwide. Many have found that recent spending cuts, furloughs and layoffs have not been enough to shore up their sagging finances, forcing them to consider more politically noxious and economically risky moves in the middle of an economic crisis.

“No politician wants to lead with raising taxes,” said Mark Mazur, director of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. “When they get there, it’s because they’ve run out of other options.”

Read more here.

By Tony Romm
June 26, 2020 at 6:12 AM EDT

Singapore punishes British men for illegal bar-hopping

Singapore has banned a group of British expatriates from working in the country after they broke lockdown rules by visiting multiple bars in the city center in mid-May.

The men visited three bars, all of which were serving takeout beverages to customers, authorities said. Prosecutors said the men participated in an illegal meeting while a pandemic “circuit breaker” was in effect, preventing social gatherings. The men were accused of standing less than one meter (about three feet) apart and not wearing face masks during their time bouncing between the bars, a trek that lasted about 45 minutes, authorities said.

An attorney for the British men objected to the “bar crawl description,” the BBC reported. The men narrowly avoided jail and were fined the equivalent of about $6,500 each.

A photo showing crowds sitting in proximity and drinking in the area during the same night went viral after it was shared on Facebook by a user named Lectress Pat, who accused those photographed of jeopardizing local and front-line efforts to slow the virus.

The photo sparked outrage, with many calling for those flouting the rules to be punished. The next day, 10 restaurants in the area were banned from selling takeout alcohol, local media reported.

According to the Singapore Ministry of Manpower, more than 100 people have had their permission to work in the country revoked for breaking lockdown rules that were enacted in early April.

In May, a U.S. pilot was sentenced to four weeks in jail after leaving his Singapore hotel room to buy medical supplies.

Brian Dugan Yeargan of Alaska was the first foreigner imprisoned in the country for the crime of breaching the stay-at-home notice, although Singaporeans have also been charged in recent months.

By Jennifer Hassan
June 26, 2020 at 6:07 AM EDT

Swedish state epidemiologist pushes back against WHO after it issues warning over virus resurgence

Swedish state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell has pushed back against a World Health Organization warning Thursday that the country is one of several that are seeing a “significant resurgence” of their coronavirus outbreaks.

Speaking to Sweden’s public broadcaster, Tegnell said the WHO warning was based on a false reading of available data on cases in Sweden. Coronavirus cases have been rising again lately in Sweden, with the number of daily new infections jumping from more than 700 in late April to over 1,500 on some days now.

But the Swedish official who has shaped the country’s controversial pandemic response said increased testing was behind the rising figures. ICU admissions, Tegnell added, are down, for instance.

On Thursday, WHO Europe Director Hans Kluge warned that infections have risen in 30 European countries over the past two weeks. He cited a “very significant resurgence” in 11 countries that could “push health systems to the brink once again” if left unchecked. One of those countries is Sweden, according to the WHO.

“Last week, Europe saw an increase in weekly cases for the first time in months. For weeks I have spoken about the risk of resurgence as countries adjust measures,” Kluge said. “In several countries across Europe, this risk has now become a reality.”

The WHO welcomed aggressive measures reintroduced in some regions of Germany, Portugal and other countries to contain local outbreaks.

“This is very good news! Bravo to the authorities,” Kluge said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Sweden was one of few countries that did not impose a lockdown during the first wave of the pandemic. Approval of the approach has been on the decline in the country in recent weeks, as Sweden now has one of the highest per capita death tolls in Europe.

By Rick Noack and Adam Taylor
June 26, 2020 at 5:52 AM EDT

DeVos makes official her controversial plan to push virus aid to private schools

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos partially retreated Thursday from her controversial position that states must share a larger percentage of their pandemic relief funding with private schools.

But her new stance did little to mollify her critics, who said DeVos is still trying to strong-arm states into giving private schools far more of the available funding than Congress intended.

On Thursday, DeVos codified her disputed interpretation of the law into a binding regulation that will take effect in a few days. The agency is expecting a court challenge, an aide to DeVos said.

Read more here.

By Laura Meckler
June 26, 2020 at 4:56 AM EDT

‘Herd Immunity’ festival changes name after backlash

A Wisconsin music festival originally billed as a “COVID Herd Immunity Fest” changed its name after people slammed the event on social media and at least one band pulled out.

The three-day event is now called the “Mini July Fest.”

In a statement on Facebook, the Q & Z Expo Center in Ringle, Wis., said its venue can accommodate 10,000 concertgoers, but tickets will be sold to fill the grounds only to 20 percent capacity, or about 2,000 attendees, who will have “the choice and ability to social distance” at the event.

“The Festival is also not called ‘Herd Immunity’ and the name no longer tied to any of our social media or promotion,” the statement said.

Critics had blasted the festival for making light of the pandemic. At least one festival band, Nonpoint, decided to cancel.

Herd immunity occurs when a large enough portion of a population has been exposed to a virus, through infection or immunization, that the virus no longer spreads easily. But public health experts have cautioned that herd immunity is not a viable option to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, which cannot yet be prevented with a vaccine.

By Katie Shepherd
June 26, 2020 at 4:15 AM EDT

Pride protesters arrested in Manila for allegedly violating quarantine

MANILA — Around 20 people were arrested during a Pride Month protest in the Philippines for supposedly violating quarantine protocol, organizers said Friday, the latest in over 100,000 arrests in one of the longest and most stringent lockdowns in the world.

Bahaghari, a left-leaning LGBTQ organization, maintained that the rally was peaceful and its attendees maintained social distancing. Attendees called for mass testing and protested an anti-terrorism bill that is widely seen as a crackdown on dissent.

In a video posted by photographer JL Javier, police did not answer questions about the nature of the charges.

“It’s clear that we’ve been arrested even though police can’t name our violations,” Bahaghari spokesperson Rey Valmores-Salinas said as the police vehicle pulled out. “They can’t name any, because there weren’t any.”

Manila police later told The Washington Post that the protesters would be charged with “illegal assembly, non-cooperation during a health crisis, direct assault, and disobedience and resistance to a person in authority.”

Sarah Elago, an activist and member of the House of Representatives, slammed the arrests as illegal. It was also condemned by other LGBTQ organizations, including the organizers of the annual Metro Manila Pride.

The Philippines is home to a vibrant LGBTQ community, with the Pride March in Manila last year reportedly the largest in Southeast Asia. However, laws against discrimination and recognizing same-sex unions have languished in Congress.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s coronavirus lockdown has eased in Manila, but government critics fear the pandemic is being used as a pretext to cut down on democratic freedoms.

Galang Philippines, another organization championing LGBTQ rights, said it had recorded cases of same-sex couples being denied pandemic aid because they supposedly did not qualify under a traditional definition of a family. In April, three LGBTQ people were detained for curfew violation and made to kiss and dance by village officials on a Facebook live stream.

By Regine Cabato
June 26, 2020 at 3:55 AM EDT

California governor declares budget emergency, allowing ‘rainy day fund’ to shore up shortfall

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) declared a budget emergency in the state on Thursday, allowing state legislators to tap a “rainy day fund” to fill a budget shortfall created by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In early 2020, the fund contained about $17.5 billion. Before the pandemic, California expected to add about $3 billion to the state savings account by June.

Instead, state senators voted Thursday to take $8 billion from the savings fund to help shore up a projected $54.3 billion budget deficit. The budget plan will be considered by the state assembly on Friday.

The projected shortfall reflects lower-than-expected tax revenue after more than 6.7 million Californians filed for unemployment and businesses shuttered because of the coronavirus pandemic. The state also predicts that the pandemic will cost the state more than $13 billion by the end of the year, Reuters reported.

California has reported more than 195,500 coronavirus cases and 5,733 deaths.

By Katie Shepherd
June 26, 2020 at 3:45 AM EDT

Two Navy ships break record for days spent at sea to avoid coronavirus outbreaks

Two U.S. Navy ships set a record Thursday after spending 161 days at sea, without taking port leave, to avoid an outbreak of the novel coronavirus among the crew.

The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, an aircraft carrier, and the guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto set off from Norfolk on Jan. 17. On Thursday, the ships broke the previous record, set in 2002, when the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt spent 160 days at sea following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Vice Adm. James Malloy suspended port liberty, which allows sailors to leave the ship when it docks, in March to maintain the fleet’s “warfighting readiness while ensuring the safety and well-being of our Sailors,” he said in a statement.

The pandemic has posed challenges for Navy ships trying to maintain operations as the virus spreads around the world. The USS Theodore Roosevelt was forced to port in Guam earlier this year after an outbreak of covid-19 onboard. More than 1,100 sailors eventually tested positive for the coronavirus, including one who died. The ship again set sail in May.

The Eisenhower and San Jacinto have avoided similar outbreaks by keeping sailors from leaving the ships.

Although the constant sailing has kept the ships’ crews from contracting the virus, being at sea for more than five months has taken a toll on morale, sailors aboard the Eisenhower told NPR.

“It’s a bittersweet feeling,” Bill Goldberg, a naval air crewman told NPR. “We’ll be in the Navy record book, but for something I’d never want to do again.”

By Katie Shepherd
June 26, 2020 at 3:45 AM EDT

Warner Bros. delays ‘Tenet’ again as coronavirus cases surge

Warner Bros. is delaying its much-anticipated Christopher Nolan movie “Tenet” an additional two weeks to mid-August, according to a person briefed on the plans who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about them publicly.

The studio confirmed the plans shortly after being contacted by The Washington Post.

The move deals a serious blow to Hollywood’s hopes of salvaging its summer season, already badly damaged by the closure of movie theaters in response to the pandemic. The movie will now come out Wednesday Aug. 12 instead of July 31, as the studio hopes that the additional two weeks will allow the country to recover from the current surge in coronavirus cases while still offering enough time before the end of the summer.

Read more here.

By Steven Zeitchik
June 26, 2020 at 2:45 AM EDT

Fans will be allowed to attend the Kentucky Derby, with restrictions

Churchill Downs announced Thursday that fans will be allowed to attend the Kentucky Derby, which has been moved from its original date in May to Sept. 5 because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The track will institute a number of operating procedures:

  • Spectators are “encouraged” to wear masks over their noses and mouths, though Churchill Downs said this rule could change based on government guidance. Fans also will be encouraged to wash their hands for 20 seconds throughout the day.
  • No paper tickets will be sold moving forward, though paper tickets sold for the original date of the race will be honored. All mobile tickets will need to be purchased online or over the phone.
  • The track’s capacity of approximately 170,000 fans will be reduced to ensure adequate social distancing. General admission access will be limited to the infield area; such ticket holders will not be allowed in the “front side” or paddock areas of the facility. Specifics on the attendance reduction will be released in the near future, according to the Courier-Journal of Louisville.
  • Food will be served to guests individually, and no buffets will be allowed.

Read more here.

By Matt Bonesteel
June 26, 2020 at 2:10 AM EDT

How Arizona ‘lost control of the epidemic’

PHOENIX — A drive-up testing site equipped for several hundred people in West Phoenix was swarmed on Saturday by about 1,000 people, leaving some baking in their cars for hours.

A nearby testing station has already reached capacity for this weekend, appointments vanishing within minutes. Hospitals are filling up. Restaurants are again shutting down, more than a month after Arizona reopened its economy under the mantra “Return Stronger.”

Arizona has emerged as an epicenter of the early summer coronavirus crisis as the outbreak has metastasized, flaring across new parts of the country and, notably, infecting more young people.

Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, is recording as many as 2,000 cases a day, “eclipsing the New York City boroughs even on their worst days,” warned a Wednesday brief by disease trackers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which observed, “Arizona has lost control of the epidemic.”

Read more here.

By Jeremy Duda, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Chelsea Janes
June 26, 2020 at 1:40 AM EDT

Trump administration asks Supreme Court to strike down Obamacare

The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court late on Thursday to overturn the Affordable Care Act, telling the court that “the entire ACA must fall." The administration’s argument comes as thousands of Americans have turned to the government program for health care as they’ve lost jobs amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) denounced the move.

“President Trump and the Republicans’ campaign to rip away the protections and benefits of the Affordable Care Act in the middle of the coronavirus crisis is an act of unfathomable cruelty," she said in a statement.

The brief was filed in support of a challenge to the ACA by a coalition of Republican governors. Trump had pledged earlier this month to follow through on overturning Obamacare despite the ongoing pandemic.

Read more here.

By Tim Elfrink and Meagan Flynn
June 26, 2020 at 1:02 AM EDT

Mississippi health official ‘terrified’ by increase in coronavirus cases in his state

Saying he is “terrified we will overwhelm the health-care system,” Mississippi’s state health officer is urging residents to wear masks and practice social distancing.

Mississippi on Thursday reported 1,092 new cases of the novel coronavirus, the second time in four days the state has surpassed 1,000. There are 532 people hospitalized.

“If we’re not careful, Mississippi will look like New York,” said epidemiologist Thomas Dobbs, according to the Clarion-Ledger.

After four days without reporting any covid-19 deaths, the state said 78 people died of the virus in the past four days.

“It’s not just the cases,” Dobbs said. “We have seen the highest number of hospitalized patients. I’m terrified we will overwhelm the health-care system, the hospitals, the ICUs. Not in the fall, I’m talking about this week.”

The state’s stay-at-home order ended June 1. All businesses were allowed to reopen, including bars and movie theaters, with capacity limits and other guidelines.

By Steven Goff
June 26, 2020 at 1:00 AM EDT

D.C. remains cautious while neighboring county plans a move to Phase 2

Maryland’s Prince George’s County, which has been hard hit by the coronavirus, on Thursday moved toward reopening more businesses and permitting more social gatherings, while in neighboring Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel E. Bowser raised concerns about large holiday gatherings during the pandemic and said the city wouldn’t further relax restrictions anytime soon.

“Our strong recommendation is that D.C. residents celebrate the Fourth of July at home or near their home in small gatherings,” Bowser (D) said, urging residents not to go to the Mall even though the Trump administration said it will set off the traditional fireworks there. “We hope that the crowds that come in non-pandemic years won’t materialize this year.”

Although crowds have become a daily feature of the protests against police brutality in the District, which Bowser herself has joined, she said big groups are not recommended. “Large gatherings are still a high-risk activity, so if you’re outdoors, that’s still a high-risk activity,” she said.

Read more here.

By Julie Zauzmer, Rachel Chason and Gregory S. Schneider
June 26, 2020 at 12:57 AM EDT

Treasury sent more than 1 million coronavirus stimulus payments to dead people, congressional watchdog finds

The federal government sent coronavirus stimulus payments to almost 1.1 million dead people totaling nearly $1.4 billion, Congress’s independent watchdog reported Thursday.

The Washington Post previously reported that the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service disbursed some payments of up to $1,200 each to dead people. But the astonishing scope of the problem had not been known.

The Government Accountability Office, an independent investigative agency that reports to Congress, issued the finding as part of a comprehensive report on the nearly $3 trillion in coronavirus relief spending approved by Congress in March and April. It said it had received the information from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration in an accounting as of April 30.

Read more here.

By Erica Werner
June 26, 2020 at 12:40 AM EDT

The Marine Corps Marathon is still on (for now). But there will be less time to finish.

Wednesday’s announcement that the Oct. 25 Marine Corps Marathon would go on as scheduled was a surprise to many, especially as it came amid a wave of cancellations of major fall marathons. New York City had thrown in the towel just minutes earlier.

The announcement also contained an unwelcome surprise for some runners: They will have less time to finish.

Longtime race director Rick Nealis said the change is one of many his team is agonizing over in trying to reinvent the iconic race in a way that will mitigate the chance of spreading covid-19.

Read more here.

By Bonnie Berkowitz
June 26, 2020 at 12:23 AM EDT

Amid a rise in cases, New Mexico pauses next reopening phase

Citing a “very concerning” climb in coronavirus cases, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) said Thursday the state is not ready to enter the next phase of reopening businesses.

“We’re not doing as good a job keeping the virus in check,” New Mexico Human Services Secretary David Scrase said in a video conference. “We have to be even more careful.”

State health officials, the Albuquerque Journal reported, are weighing whether to reimpose more stringent health orders and increase enforcement of wearing masks in public. The state is also considering quarantine orders for visitors arriving in vehicles, not just on planes.

According to data compiled by The Washington Post, New Mexico has seen a steady rise in new cases this week, including 202 on Thursday.

Bars remain closed, but since June 1, restaurants have been allowed to offer dine-in services at 50 percent capacity and with additional guidelines. Salons and barbershops were allowed to reopen at 25 percent capacity.

By Steven Goff
June 26, 2020 at 12:10 AM EDT

Analysis: Latin America’s coronavirus crisis is only getting worse

In many parts of the world, authorities and experts are fretting over the onset of a coronavirus second wave. Yet in the Americas, there’s still no end in sight to the first. The virus is surging in various U.S. states, and the American death toll has eclipsed 120,000. On Thursday, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the real number of infected Americans is probably 10 times the 2.3 million official count.

But to the United States’ south, things are looking all the more concerning. Across Latin America, cases have tripled in the space of a month. The region, which is home to just 8 percent of the world’s population, accounted for about half of global coronavirus-related deaths in the past two weeks and surpassed the unfortunate milestone of 100,000 fatalities this week. According to a new projection by researchers, that figure could reach close to 400,000 by October.

The largest numbers are in Brazil and Mexico, the two most populous countries in the region. In both instances, governments in charge played down the scale of the threat and are desperately playing catch-up. Official counts of infections and coronavirus-linked deaths are probably lower than the actual numbers. Mass testing initiatives have struggled to get off the ground, while shutdown skeptics who suggested herd immunity could take root have little evidence to justify their optimism.

Read more here.

By Ishaan Tharoor