Trump delivered a fiery speech Friday, for the first of two nights of Independence Day celebrations he will attend.
Heading into the holiday weekend, at least 20 states set record highs for the average of new cases over seven days, with Florida, Texas, California, Arizona, Georgia and North Carolina tallying the highest number of infections.
Florida leads the nation with 9,488 new reported cases Friday — the 26th consecutive day it has set a record in its seven-day average. Meanwhile, scientists warn of a new coronavirus mutation, which doesn’t appear to make people sicker, but there’s concern it has made the virus more contagious.
Here are some other significant developments:
- Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams, speaking Friday on NBC’s “Today” show, said everyone should wear a mask when going out in public but stopped short of discouraging large gatherings — which would undercut Trump’s desire to see large crowds at his scheduled holiday events.
- The weekend’s weather is expected to push most states into the 90-degree range and threatens to further strain hospital capacity. High temperatures are forecast to be especially intense in the central and southern United States, which is struggling with the worst of the outbreak.
- Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, tested positive for the coronavirus Friday while in South Dakota, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss their personal situation. Trump Jr. was cleared of the virus, and the couple will drive home together to avoid contact with others.
- Ahead of baseball and basketball returning this month, several players were reported Friday to have become infected with the coronavirus. Major League Baseball announced 38 players and staff members tested positive on 19 teams, even as the 60-game schedule is set to open on July 23 or 24.
- Jimmie Johnson, seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, tested positive for the coronavirus, meaning he will not drive in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, the first time he is missing a race in his Cup career, he said in a statement.
Adams suggested Friday that mandates, such as requiring attendees at Trump’s planned holiday events to wear masks, would only make people rebel. It was more beneficial, Adams said, to help people understand why they should wear a mask rather than simply order them to do so.
“As we talk about Fourth of July and independence, it’s important to understand that if we wear these, we’ll actually have more independence and more freedom because more places will be able to stay open,” Adams said.
The Mount Rushmore event, which was supposed to have 7,500 attendees, was not staged to ensure social distancing, as folding chairs were zip-tied together for fire safety reasons, CNN reported ahead of Trump’s arrival. He has continued to downplay concerns about the pandemic, saying Wednesday that the virus would “just disappear.”
More than a dozen governors and mayors since Thursday have urged residents to take precautions and encouraged mask-wearing and social distancing. Gov. Kate Brown (D) reminded Oregonians that cases surged following Memorial Day and that they should keep celebrations “small, local, and with face coverings.”
Ahead of the three-day holiday weekend, Chicago and Pennsylvania announced new travel quarantine measures for arrivals from coronavirus hot-spot states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah. The order goes into effect July 6.
Among American destinations that remain open to visitors is Myrtle Beach, where thousands of beachgoers have flocked. Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune told CNN’s Jim Acosta on Friday that the city is “doing all that we can” to prevent the spread of the virus, even though beaches will remain open. Horry County, home to Myrtle Beach, has reported 3,963 confirmed cases, 1,383 since last week.
However, in California, beaches will be closed this holiday weekend after throngs of people traveled to the sandy shores Memorial Day weekend. Closures extended from Los Angeles County to Ventura and Santa Barbara counties Friday, with Huntington and Newport beaches in Orange County expected to be clear of people Saturday and Sunday, the Associated Press reported.
An outbreak in California’s San Quentin State Prison that has infected hundreds killed two death row inmates Friday, the state’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced Friday.
In an effort to curb the spread of the virus, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) reversed his stance on a mask requirement and on Thursday issued a statewide mandate requiring Texans to wear masks in public in any county with 20 or more novel coronavirus cases. Those who don’t comply could face fines up to $250.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed an executive order Friday giving local officials the authority to issue mask requirements, as the state reported a new high seven-day case average of 1,324.
Officials in many states have reported a rise in infections among younger people.
In Louisiana, 98 percent of the 1,756 new cases reported Friday were from community spread, “rather than congregate settings like nursing homes,” the state’s health department announced. A majority of those who tested positive were younger, with 60 percent under the age of 39.
Nearly 100 University of Washington students, most living in fraternity houses near campus, tested positive, the university said Friday.
In Florida, officials including Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) blamed younger residents who were flouting social distancing without fear of catching the virus. The state reported its youngest coronavirus fatality Thursday, an 11-year-old. The boy, Daequan Wimberly, had preexisting conditions, his family told the Miami Herald.
After Tuscaloosa City Councilor Sonya McKinstry told media that she knew of parties where young people would see who could become infected with the coronavirus, the Alabama Department of Public Health said that it could not verify those reports but that people should not try it, according to the Associated Press.