- U.S. death toll, unemployment figures creep upwards.
- Ottawa says COVID-19 tracing app now in beta testing.
- Bolivia first responders clear hundreds of bodies in recent days in La Paz, Santa Cruz.
- Tokyo dealing with rise in cases as a long weekend approaches.
- Florida reports record single-day death toll, as Republican convention cancelled in that state.
- South Africa excess death study reveals toll of coronavirus.
- France sees new cases increase by 66% in 3 weeks.
U.S. President Donald Trump announced on Thursday that he has cancelled the bulk of the Republican National Convention scheduled for Florida next month, as the state reported a record single-day death toll.
The announcement also comes as U.S. coronavirus cases topped four million, with more than 2,600 new cases every hour on average, the highest rate in the world, according to a Reuters tally.
Trump cited a “flare-up” of the coronavirus in announcing the cancellation of the plans in Florida.
His formal renomination will still go forward in North Carolina, where a small subset of GOP delegates will gather in Charlotte for just four hours on Aug. 24.
Florida was to have hosted four nights of programming and parties that Trump had hoped would be a “four-night infomercial” for his re-election.
“It’s a different world, and it will be for a little while,” Trump said, explaining his decision. “To have a big convention is not the right time.”
Trump moved the ceremonial portions of the GOP convention to Florida last month amid a dispute with North Carolina’s Democratic leaders over holding an event indoors with maskless supporters. But those plans were steadily scaled back as coronavirus cases spiked in Florida and much of the country over the last month.
Trump said he would deliver an acceptance speech in an alternate form, potentially online.
Florida on Thursday reported a record one-day increase in deaths from COVID-19, with 173 lives lost, for a cumulative total of 5,632 deaths. It was the fifth straight day of rising casualties.
Elsewhere in the U.S., Arizona topped 3,000 deaths with the state Health Services Department reporting 89 new deaths Thursday, bringing the statewide total since the outbreak began to 3,063.
More than 1,000 deaths have been reported in the past 15 days. The state has nearly 153,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
In Texas, one hard-hit county is storing bodies in refrigerated trucks after COVID-19 deaths doubled in the span of a week. Hidalgo County, at the southern tip of the state on the U.S. border with Mexico, has seen cases rise 60 per cent in the last week, according to a Reuters tally, with deaths doubling to more than 360.
WATCH | Keeping school children in masks all day may be ‘practically impossible’:
The White House reluctantly dropped its bid to cut Social Security payroll taxes Thursday as Republicans prepared to unveil a $1-trillion US COVID-19 rescue package, yielding to opposition to the idea among top Senate allies.
“It won’t be in the base bill,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, speaking on CNBC about the payroll tax cut, killing the idea for now. The cut in the tax that finances Social Security and Medicare has been a major demand from Trump.
The long-delayed legislation was originally to be released Thursday morning by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, but the Kentucky Republican instead hosted an unscheduled meeting with Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and delayed the planned release of his proposal.
After, Mnuchin declared the administration had reached a “fundamental agreement” with Senate Republicans.
Given the hold-up, however, Mnuchin and Meadows floated the idea of breaking off a smaller bill that would be limited to maintaining jobless benefits that would otherwise expire and speeding aid to schools.
Democrats immediately panned that idea, saying it would strand other important elements like aid to state and local governments.
The urgency to get a deal done was illustrated by the latest unemployment figures. For an 18th consecutive week, jobless claims exceeded one million, according to the latest U.S. Labour Department release on Thursday.
The number of laid-off Americans seeking unemployment benefits actually rose last week for the first time since the pandemic struck in March, to 1.4 million. The previous week’s total was 1.3 million.
An additional 975,000 applied for jobless aid under a separate program that has made self-employed and gig workers eligible for the first time. That figure isn’t adjusted for seasonal trends, so it’s reported separately.
In a video released Thursday by Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s campaign, Biden and former president Barack Obama discuss the challenges the U.S. faces with respect to public health and the economy.
“If you want the economy growing again, people have to feel safe,” said Obama.
WATCH | Niagara Falls boats show differing approaches to physical distancing:
What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada
As of 4:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, Canada has seen 112,557 confirmed coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 98,449 of those as recovered or resolved and a total of 5,202 still active. A CBC News tally based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting indicates that 8,906 Canadians have died.
The federal government says a smartphone app meant to warn users if they’ve been in close contact with someone who tests positive for coronavirus is now in beta testing.
The app was supposed to be tried out in Ontario starting early this month but the trial to look for bugs and other problems was delayed.
Now, the Canadian Digital Service — an agency that puts federal services online — is asking people to sign up for the app and try it out.
WATCH | Doug Ford contrasts Ontario’s COVID-19 situation with ‘disaster’ south of border:
In Ontario, several unions launched a campaign on Thursday calling on the provincial government to phase out for-profit companies that operate long-term care homes. COVID-19 has hit for-profit homes harder than their non-profit or municipally run counterparts, they noted.
“It’s proven: For-profits have the worst outcomes in this pandemic,” said Sharleen Stewart, president of Service Employees International Union Healthcare, which represents front-line workers in the province.
For-profits account for just over half of Ontario’s more than 620 nursing homes, but are also in place across Canada. COVID-19 has been especially brutal for the money-making enterprises, with 13 of the 15 hardest-hit facilities in the province run by for-profits.
WATCH | B.C. tightens some restaurant rules but not all servers wear masks:
In British Columbia, new measures will be introduced at restaurants, bars and nightclubs amid rising COVID-19 numbers.
Thirty-four new cases were announced in the province on Wednesday, bringing its total to 3,362. No new deaths were announced.
What’s happening in the rest of the world
The city of Tokyo announced a record 366 new daily coronavirus cases on Thursday, exceeding 300 for the first time as Japan begins a four-day weekend with many people joining a tourism promotion campaign that the government is pushing despite concerns of a new wave of infections nationwide.
The number of daily cases in Tokyo had fallen to just a small number in late May after the government ended a national state of emergency but have climbed steadily since late June, with the number tripling in the first three weeks of July.
WATCH l Upcoming sports launches will provide lessons for Olympics:
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike has asked residents to stay home as much as possible during the long weekend, even though Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has gone ahead with a “Go To” tourism promotion campaign that excludes Tokyo for now to help the badly hit tourism industry.
Until recently, officials have said most cases were limited to younger people linked to nightlife entertainment districts, but experts at a Tokyo task force meeting on Wednesday said infections have spread to older people and to regular homes, workplaces and restaurants.
Tokyo, which earlier allocated 1,000 beds for coronavirus patients, has asked hospitals to secure up to 2,800 beds, but preparations are taking time and beds are filling up quickly. Koike said the city is also in the process of securing hotel rooms for less sick patients.
The city would have been hosting the 2020 Summer Olympics beginning Friday, but the global competition was scrapped months ago. Hopes that the Games can take place in 2021 are questionable.
WATCH | ‘COVID long-haulers’ — Tracking small number whose symptoms persist:
South Africa witnessed some 17,000 extra deaths from natural causes, or 59 per cent more than would normally be expected, between early May and mid-July, scientists said, suggesting many more people are dying of COVID-19 than shown in official figures.
New data by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), released overnight, showed that just in the week to July 14 — the latest figures available — there was an excess of 5,022 deaths by natural causes, about 50 per cent more than usual.
The council’s data showed that of the 17,090 extra deaths, 11,175 were people over the age of 60, a telltale sign of COVID-19, which is overwhelmingly more deadly for older people.
Africa’s most industrialized nation is in the middle of a runaway epidemic, with coronavirus cases increasing by more than 10,000 a day and the current total surpassing 400,000. But its recorded death toll has so far been low, at 5,940 deaths, or less than 1.5 per cent of cases.
South African public schools will close for a four-week break, with some exceptions, President Cyril Ramaphosa said in an address to the nation on Thursday.
He said it was important to ensure that schools did not become sites of transmission at a time when the country’s coronavirus cases are rising at one of the fastest rates in the world.
In France, the country’s public health authority said on Thursday there had been a significant rise in confirmed, new cases of people suffering from COVID-19, as the number of deaths in the country edged up.
The number of deaths in France from COVID-19 rose by 10 from the previous day to 30,182 — the sixth highest casualty toll in the world.
The number of confirmed new cases rose by 1,000, a 66 per cent increase in three weeks, as people adhered less to physical distancing measures and increased testing led to the discovery of new clusters in parts of the country.
WATCH | French hospital tests new method of detecting coronavirus:
Meanwhile, a hospital in the southern French city of Lyon is testing a new breathalyzer-style machine that allows patients to breathe into a tube and get coronavirus test results in a matter of seconds.
The machine is entering a second trial phase after three months of use on dozens of people. Unlike the uncomfortable standard PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests, it is not invasive and provides an immediate result.
Bruno Lina, an independent virus expert who has been consulted on the machine, said it was a step in the right direction, but at this stage was too expensive for widespread distribution in hospitals.
The government in Chile is letting its elderly out of the house after a four-month ban on people 75 and older in public. The government says the elderly will be allowed to leave their homes for an hour three times a week.
The age-based restriction was one of the strictest, though it’s not clear how much it helped. The South American nation’s hospital critical care units remain 82 per cent occupied.
The country of 19 million has recorded 336,000 confirmed infections of the coronavirus and 8,700 deaths.
Worldwide, more than 15.3 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus and 627,021 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
Published at Thu, 23 Jul 2020 11:53:20 +0000