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The grim reality of the novel coronavirus continued to batter the United States this weekend, with a record 44,782 new cases reported Saturday, the second day in a row that new cases have risen above 40,000 and the fifth consecutive day setting a single-day record for cases.

Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Nevada hit new highs in daily cases reported, while Arizona set a record for current hospitalizations. Texas set a record for coronavirus-related hospitalizations for the 16th consecutive day, with 5,523 patients currently being treated. Hospitalizations have risen rapidly since Memorial Day, when there were 1,511 covid-19 patients in the state’s hospitals.

The numbers come as officials across the country moved to slow their reopenings, with beaches in Florida’s Miami-Dade County set to close over the Fourth of July weekend and Washington state pausing the progression of several counties that were on track to enter the fourth and final phase of reopening.

Facing a surge of new coronavirus cases, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) expressed regret for allowing bars to reopen so early, saying Friday that he did not realize how fast the virus would spread.

Here are some significant developments:

  • Vice President Pence postponed planned campaign events in Arizona and Florida next week “out of an abundance of caution” amid spikes in coronavirus cases in those states, a Trump-Pence reelection campaign official said Saturday.
  • A federal judge in California on Friday cited coronavirus outbreaks when ordering the release of migrant children being held with their parents at the country’s three family detention facilities.
  • An Oklahoma journalist who covered President Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa last week said he tested positive for the coronavirus.
  • Europe is preparing to reopen to foreign travelers, but Americans don’t even figure into the discussion.
  • 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.

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2:17 a.m.
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In some states, families can start visiting nursing homes again

Before the covid-19 lockdown, care for untold thousands of nursing home residents across the country came as much from family members as from the aides on the floor. From Maine to Hawaii, relatives would drop in to feed residents of chronically short-staffed nursing homes, brush their teeth, check for bedsores, get them moving, keep them company.

Barred since March, many have worried that no one has sufficiently taken up the slack.

Now, after tens of thousands of residents died as covid-19 swept through one nursing home after another, more than a dozen states are cautiously setting rules for the return of a limited number of family visitors. They range from New Jersey, where officials believe the peak of the pandemic has passed, to New Hampshire, which has seen very few cases all spring, to Oklahoma, where even as cases are spiking, criteria have been drawn up to allow family access. But the distancing rules in effect will prevent visitors from carrying out much of their earlier hygiene care.

Read more here.

1:24 a.m.
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Virginia nursing homes walk tightrope

Families are pleading with nursing homes to allow in-person visits. Some facilities are tentatively lifting restrictions, while others are still grappling with coronavirus outbreaks. As Virginia approaches the third phase of its recovery plan on Wednesday, nursing homes and assisted-living facilities say they are fearful of a resurgence of cases.

The scale of the crisis became public only recently, when Gov. Ralph Northam (D) acquiesced to demands from families, advocates and lawmakers to identify facilities with known infections after months of refusing to do so.

The data showed that nursing homes and assisted-living facilities have reported more than 6,200 infections and 889 deaths — 55 percent of all fatalities in the state — with many of the worst outbreaks concentrated in Northern Virginia. And those tallies are likely to increase as the state health department works to complete universal testing at all facilities — and as families demand access to their elderly loved ones even though they are most vulnerable to the virus.

Read more here.

1:07 a.m.
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U.S. sets single-day record for new coronavirus cases for fifth straight day

Across the United States, health departments reported 44,782 new coronavirus infections on Saturday — surpassing the previous single-day record of 43,715, which was set on Friday. It is the fifth straight day the country has hit a new single-day record.

Florida, Georgia, Nevada and South Carolina all hit new highs in daily cases reported, with 41 states logging a higher seven-day new case average than a week ago, according to data tracked by The Washington Post. Fourteen of the states with a higher average increased their average by 40 percent or more.

Five states also set records for current coronavirus-related hospitalizations: Arizona, California, South Carolina, Texas and Utah. Arizona, which has seen a drastic spike in cases, reported 2,577 hospitalizations on Saturday. As of Friday, 87 percent of ICU beds and 59 percent of emergency-department beds in the state were occupied, state data show.

Florida, where infection totals have been growing since early in the month, shattered its record for daily cases on Saturday, with 9,585. Daily reported cases have continued to rise there, with the previous record of 8,942 new cases having been set on Friday.

Saturday also marked the 20th day in a row for new highs in the state’s seven-day rolling average, seen as a more reliable indicator of the virus’s impact, according to a data analysis by The Post.

The new case tally pushes Florida’s total number of infections to more than 132,500. The state also reported an additional 24 covid-19 deaths, totaling 3,390 deaths since the first outbreak in the state.

Saturday’s U.S. record of new single-day cases did not include numbers from Louisiana and Rhode Island, which did not report their daily cases.

12:14 a.m.
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Jacksonville firefighters to be tested for coronavirus as more than 200 self-quarantine

The city of Jacksonville, Fla., is testing its entire fire department for the novel coronavirus after more than 200 firefighters entered self-quarantine and 14 learned they were infected.

Mayor Lenny Curry (R) said he made the decision after being informed Friday that 214 firefighters were quarantined. He said he had been closely monitoring the firefighters’ health since he found out about two positive tests in the department earlier this week.

“While this could lead to more of our first responders sidelined through quarantine, my top priority remains slowing the spread of the virus,” Curry wrote in a tweet regarding the testing of the entire department.

Florida once again shattered its record for daily coronavirus cases on Saturday, with 9,585 confirmed infections. Duval County, most of which is Jacksonville, reported 677 new cases on Saturday, increasing its overall number of cases to 4,848.

The Republican National Convention is scheduled to draw thousands of people to Jacksonville in August. Charlotte, the original site, refused to agree to President Trump’s wishes for a crowded, large-scale event amid the coronavirus pandemic.

11:29 p.m.
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Washington state pauses final phase of reopening in several counties amid record number of infections

After Washington set a statewide high for new cases over a seven-day stretch, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and Secretary of Health John Wiesman paused the progression of several counties that were on track to enter the fourth and final phase of reopening Saturday.

Phase 4 of the state’s Safe Start plan would have eliminated restrictions, allowing counties to resume all recreational activity, open nightclubs and concert venues and host large sporting events. Though eight counties in the eastern part of the state were scheduled to enter that phase, Inslee said he would pause that progression as the state records a spike in covid-19 cases.

“We all want to get back to doing all the things we love in Washington during the summer, and fully open our economy, but we aren’t there yet,” Inslee said in a statement. “This is an evolving situation and we will continue to make decisions based on the data.”

Although there have been only two confirmed cases in Lincoln County, one of the regions that was on track to open, the state overall has experienced an uptick in infections. Washington, which this week mandated that masks be worn in public, has seen a 26.6 percent change in coronavirus-related hospitalizations since Memorial Day, according to data collected by The Washington Post.

Washington was also one of 13 states to hit a seven-day new case average on Friday, joining the likes of Arizona, Florida and Texas.

10:59 p.m.
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Bagpiper plays on his Brooklyn street corner to honor covid-19 victims

NEW YORK — Mike Mallazzo walked along Seventh Avenue in Park Slope and took note of John Henderson, a densely built bon vivant with bagpipes under his left arm. Henderson, clutching a milk stout, stood outside American Cheez, a bar Mallazzo frequents. Mallazzo grew concerned.

“This isn’t an Irish funeral, right?” Mallazzo said. “They’re not closing, right?”

Henderson, 56, did not intend to haunt. On Fridays amid the pandemic, the Iowa native walks six doors down from his house here in Brooklyn, stands alone on the corner and plays to honor the dead — 22,000 and counting, according to city data — in his adopted city.

Neighbors lean out windows; others watch from rooftops. Drivers honk car horns; police officers flash lights. Requests come; applause follows.

Read more here.

10:12 p.m.
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Trump campaign directed removal of thousands of social distancing stickers before Tulsa rally

In the hours before his rally in Tulsa, President Trump’s campaign directed the removal of thousands of “Do not sit here, please!” stickers from seats in the arena that were intended to establish social distance between rallygoers, according to video and photos obtained by The Washington Post and a person familiar with the event.

The removal contradicted instructions from the management of the BOK Center, the 19,000-seat arena in Tulsa where Trump held his rally on June 20. At the time, coronavirus cases were rising sharply in Tulsa County, and Trump faced intense criticism for convening a large crowd for an indoor political rally, his first such event since the pandemic began.

As part of its safety plan, arena management had purchased 12,000 do-not-sit stickers for Trump’s rally, intended to keep people apart by leaving open seats between attendees. On the day of the rally, event staff had already affixed them on nearly every other seat in the arena when Trump’s campaign told event management to stop and then began removing the stickers, hours before the president’s arrival, according to a person familiar with the event who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters.

Read more here.

10:06 p.m.
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Pence nixes campaign rallies in hard-hit Arizona and Florida

Vice President Pence has postponed planned campaign events in Arizona and Florida next week “out of an abundance of caution” amid spikes in coronavirus cases in those states, a Trump-Pence reelection campaign official said Saturday.

The campaign also moved to make some meetup events in key states virtual, rather than in-person, as new cases continue to break records. The campaign website said people who had registered for in-person events would be given new details.

Pence had said Friday that campaign events would continue despite an acknowledged rise in cases in the Sun Belt, because free speech and freedom of assembly are constitutional rights.

“Freedom of speech, the right to peaceably assemble, is enshrined in the Constitution of the United States, and we have an election coming up this fall,” Pence said at a briefing with members of the White House coronavirus task force.

The campaign official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the vice president’s schedule, did not say when the events would be rescheduled.

The Trump campaign has been criticized for going ahead with in-person political events in the past week over the advice of local officials and federal public health advisers.

Pence, who heads the task force, is still planning to travel to Arizona, Florida and Texas next week for official White House business. He will meet with governors and their health-care teams in each state, a White House official said.

Pence’s change of plans on holding campaign events was first reported by NBC News.

9:05 p.m.
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MLB team expected to use cardboard cutouts of fans to fill stadium seats

The San Francisco Giants are expected to follow other professional sports teams with a popular way to fill seats in the era of covid-19.

According to several reports, on Thursday the Giants informed season-ticket holders that fans will not be allowed inside Oracle Park when the Major League Baseball season returns in late July. However, those fans can submit an image of themselves to be displayed as cutouts on their seats.

Giants fans who are not season-ticket holders will have to pay $99 to have their images inside the ballpark.

As sports return, cardboard fans have replaced real-life people in stadiums across the world as a way to limit crowds and stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. In April, Borussia Mönchengladbach, a German pro soccer club, started the trend by placing blown-up photographs of fans, coaches, players and staffers in the stands.

However, this idea of filling stadiums with stand-ins has not always gone off without a hitch. In May, a South Korean soccer team apologized and said it had been fined approximately $82,000 by its league for placing sex dolls as “cheer mannequins” in the stands. Also, Leeds United of the English Football Club drew criticism for allowing an image of Osama bin Laden in a prime seat.

This week, MLB announced it will play a 60-game regular season, beginning July 23 or 24.

8:53 p.m.
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Texas hospitalizations hit a new high for 16th consecutive day

Texas set a record for coronavirus-related hospitalizations for the 16th consecutive day on Saturday, with 5,523 patients currently being treated.

Hospitalizations have risen rapidly since Memorial Day, when there were 1,511 covid-19 patients in the state’s hospitals.

Marc Boom, an executive at Texas Medical Center in Houston, said Friday that Texans must “dramatically change” their behavior to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. The hospital’s intensive care units were nearing full capacity, he said.

Cases across the state are also on the rise. Although the 5,747 infections reported Saturday is not a new high, the state’s seven-day average of new cases set a record — 5,091 — for the 18th straight day.

Other states where cases are continuing to surge include Wyoming, whose seven-day average hit a new high Saturday for the first time since April 27. The state averaged 30 daily cases in the past week.

The number of single-day cases reported in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Nevada also hit new highs. Arizona, meanwhile, set a record, with 2,577 current hospitalizations.

8:28 p.m.
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Texas mayor orders overnight curfew amid coronavirus concerns

With coronavirus cases continuing to surge in Texas, the mayor of a Houston suburb issued an overnight curfew order Friday in an attempt to combat infections.

Beginning Saturday, the curfew in Galena Park will be in effect from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. every night until further notice.

Mayor Esmeralda Moya’s decision came the same day that Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo increased the county’s covid-19 public-threat level to “severe.” The Level 1 label signifies a “severe and uncontrolled level” of the virus with worsening outbreaks and strained testing and contact-tracing capacity.

“Let’s remember that our collective fight against COVID-19 is one in which we mustn’t underestimate,” Moya wrote in a Facebook post. “We must all do our part to ensure the protection of our family, friends, and fellow citizens of Galena Park.”

Harris County, which includes the city of Houston, reported 1,238 new cases Saturday, reaching a total of 28,255 since the pandemic began. State health officials announced 5,747 new infections in Texas.

Also Friday, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) reimplemented restrictions forcing bars to pause in-person service and restaurants to limit their capacity to 50 percent.

At least two other cities besides Galena Park have imposed coronavirus-related curfews.

In Arkansas, Little Rock issued an overnight curfew in March for everyone and a daytime curfew for minors to try to enforce social distancing. In April, the mayor of Flint, Mich., announced a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. That order was extended several times.

7:19 p.m.
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Catholic school edits graduation video showing school president asking students to remove masks

After the president of an all-boys Catholic private school in Miami asked students to remove their face masks to sing during a graduation Mass held last week, the school edited out the request in a video of the event, the Miami Herald first reported.

Days later, Belen Jesuit Preparatory School announced that at least two attendees of the June 15 and 16 graduation events had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

According to the original live-stream of the Mass held at a Catholic church in Doral, Fla., the school’s president, Father Guillermo M. García-Tuñón, asked the congregation to remove their masks to sing a song in prayer.

“I know that we’re supposed to be wearing our masks, but I’m going to ask you to take it off for this song. You can put it on afterward,” García-Tuñón told the crowd.

But a video posted on YouTube by the school skips that part.

School spokeswoman Teresa Martinez confirmed the video was edited to remove García-Tuñón’s request because the school administration “realized that’s not the right message to put out.”

“We understand the importance of everyone wearing a face mask,” she wrote in an email to The Post. Martinez said the school provided hand sanitizer and masks at the ceremony. The school also spaced out the seating area for graduates so they were six feet apart, staggered entrances for the crowd and limited the attendance to three people per graduate, Martinez said.

Graduates also posed onstage with school leaders sans masks. The video of the event shows attendees removing their face coverings before receiving Communion.

The school notified families of students that a sibling of a graduate who attended the ceremony had tested positive for the virus that causes covid-19 after the event. The same day that email was sent out, the school also learned that the graduate also tested positive.

“Because the proper social distance was always maintained and a face mask was worn throughout the whole ceremony, we believe the risk to the community was low,” according to the email that was obtained by the Herald and shared on social media.

The Herald reported that the family’s contact tracing revealed the sibling became infected the night of the event.

The school, founded in 1857, is well established in South Florida and Latin America, as its alumni include prominent Florida politicians, business executives and former Cuban political leader and Communist revolutionary Fidel Castro.

6:40 p.m.
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Millennials urged to take virus more seriously

Health officials are imploring young people to wear masks and practice social distancing as coronavirus transmission among younger Americans continued to drive record outbreaks in several states.

The pleas come as governors in Texas and Florida instituted new limits on bars and alcohol consumption to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, citing the skyrocketing number of young people who are contracting it. At the White House Friday, Vice President Pence and other members of the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, in its first briefing in weeks, urged young people to take the virus more seriously.

While the virus is most dangerous to the elderly, it can be devastating to younger victims as well, health professionals said. Younger coronavirus patients are a widening percentage of total coronavirus hospitalizations, with those in the 18 to 49 age group growing from about 27 percent of hospitalizations the week ending March 7 to 35 percent last week, CDC figures show.

Officials across the country — from Ohio to Arizona — said coronavirus cases among young people were spiking as many red states that were slow to shut down in the early days of the pandemic threw their doors back open again.

5:11 p.m.
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Contact tracing is ‘a disaster’ in hard-hit Maricopa County, Arizona congressman says

A Democratic congressman from Arizona on Friday accused health officials in Maricopa County of ignoring federal guidelines for contact tracing, saying they did not reach out to people exposed to the novel coronavirus as the county became the epicenter of the state’s rapidly expanding outbreak.

In a letter to the Maricopa County board, Rep. Greg Stanton (D) said officials had not conducted contact tracing recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for nearly 35,000 positive cases. From late March to early June, he said, people exposed to the virus through contact with an infected person received “no outreach at all” from public health investigators. The county has totaled 42,374 cases as of Saturday.

Stanton said the inaction paved the way for infections to spiral out of control in the county, which is now regularly reporting more than 2,000 new cases per day as the state’s infection rate skyrockets.

“The county’s top public health officials planned for this pandemic poorly — shunning CDC-recommended models that showed a population of 4.5 million residents would have significant contact tracing needs,” Stanton wrote. “The situation is a disaster. It is costing lives. It is inexcusable.”

According to Stanton’s letter, the county spent just 4 percent of the nearly $400 million in federal pandemic funds it received on contact tracing efforts. That is nowhere near enough to shore up the resources needed to run down every positive case, Stanton said.

Epidemiologists and federal health officials have stressed the importance of aggressive contact tracing at the local level, saying a robust system and large groups of contact tracers are essential for containing the virus.

Instead of calling patients on the phone, Maricopa County mainly relies on text-based communications for contact tracing, as the Arizona Republic reported. Only about 1 in 5 investigations are completed using that process, according to the newspaper.

A county spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday morning.