U.S. tops 3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19

U.S. tops 3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19

The latest:

As the number of COVID-19 cases surpassed three million in the U.S. on Wednesday, President Donald Trump threatened to withhold federal money if schools don’t reopen in the fall, and lashed out at federal health officials over school reopening guidelines that he says are impractical and expensive.

Taking to Twitter to voice his frustration, Trump argued that countries including Germany, Denmark and Norway have reopened schools “with no problems.” He also repeated his claim that Democrats want to keep schools closed for political reasons, not because of any risks associated with the novel coronavirus.

“The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November election,” Trump tweeted, “but is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!”

He did not immediately say what funding he would cut or what authority he had to make the move.

Shortly afterward, Vice-President Mike Pence announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would be issuing new guidance next week “that will give all new tools to our schools.”

The advice will keep students safe, he said, but “the president said today we just don’t want the guidance to be too tough. “

WATCH | Vice-President Pence says COVID-19 fatality rate remains ‘low and steady’:

U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence thanked health care workers and the American people for their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 1:28

Trump made his comments a day after launching an all-out effort pressing state and local officials to reopen the nation’s schools and colleges this fall.

At a White House event on Tuesday, health and education officials argued that keeping students out of school for the fall semester would pose greater health risks than any tied to the coronavirus.

His comments came as Johns Hopkins University reported the grim new milestone in the number of cases confirmed in the U.S., a day after the country’s two most-populous states, Texas and California, reported record numbers of new infections. As of Wednesday, 131,594 people are known to have died from the respiratory illness in the U.S. 

Authorities have reported alarming upswings of daily caseloads in roughly two-dozen states over the past two weeks, a sign that efforts to control transmission of the novel coronavirus have failed in large swaths of the country.

Meanwhile, Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart said Wednesday that a crowd of thousands attending Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla., in late June, along with large groups of people who showed up to protest, “likely contributed” to a dramatic surge in new coronavirus cases in the area.

Tulsa County reported 261 confirmed cases on Monday, a new record one-day high, and another 206 confirmed cases on Tuesday. A spokesperson for the Trump campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

A waiter carries plates past social distancing greenhouse dining pods in the former parking lot of the Lady Byrd Cafe in Los Angeles on Tuesday. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

Worldwide, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases has climbed to 11,922,399, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of global deaths stands at 546,325. 

What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada

As of 2:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Canada had 106,416 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 70,232 of the cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 8,774. 

The federal government on Wednesday released a long-awaited “fiscal snapshot” that forecast nearly two million Canadians could be without jobs this year.

The document details how the Trudeau Liberals see the COVID-19 pandemic dragging down the domestic economy and sending the deficit to a historic $343.2 billion.

The economic and fiscal report from the government lays out the Liberals’ belief that there will be a slow return to a new normal, with unemployment high and economic growth low through to at least the end of 2021.

Even though the government believes the worst of the economic harm from the pandemic is behind the country, the document says a recovery can’t begin in earnest until an effective vaccine or treatment becomes widely available.

People wear face masks at Toronto’s Eaton Centre shopping mall on Tuesday. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Also on Wednesday, Canada’s public health agency released the latest figures in its modelling of the coronavirus outbreak in the country, showing the epidemic is on the same trajectory as it was at the end of June.

Dr. Howard Njoo, deputy chief public health officer of Canada, told a media briefing in Ottawa that “the current patterns of COVID-19 infections show limited to no transmission in most areas of the country.”

While he said the outbreak in Canada remains “largely under control,” he warned that the potential for a significant spike in new cases “is not just hypothetical, as this is exactly what we are already seeing in some other parts of the world.”

Njoo was also asked about the latest discussions at the World Health Organization on “emerging evidence” of airborne transmission of the virus.

He said that evidence so far has not shown COVID-19 to be airborne “in that classic definition in a sense as measles.”

“And certainly based on what we’ve done so far in terms of public health measures, they’ve been proven effective,” he said.

Ontario, with the second-highest count for COVID-19, added 118 new cases on Wednesday, for a total of 36,178 — after reporting 112 new cases on Tuesday, when the province introduced new legislation to enable the extension of some pandemic emergency orders over the next year. 

Quebec added 82 new cases Wednesday for a provincial total of 56,079.

In Edmonton, the Misericordia Community Hospital is closing its doors to new patients and has cancelled all surgeries as an outbreak of COVID-19 continues to spread.

As of Wednesday morning, 20 patients and 15 staff members had tested positive. Three patients linked to the outbreak have died.

The hospital had previously cancelled day surgeries, restricted visitors and had begun testing of staff and patients.

WATCH | Is the handshake over?

COVID-19 has made the handshake a thing of the past. The National’s Adrienne Arsenault finds out how people can show trust and goodwill without shaking on it. 5:03

Here’s what’s happening around the world

In South America, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said he is confident he will swiftly recover from the novel coronavirus thanks to treatment with hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug that has not been proven effective against the virus.

Bolsonaro, 65, said he tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday after months of downplaying its severity while deaths mounted rapidly inside the country.

WATCH | Bolsonaro tests positive after downplaying risk of COVID-19:

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro tests positive for COVID-19, after spending months downplaying the risk of the disease. 2:03

The president told reporters he underwent a lung X-ray on Monday after experiencing fever, muscle aches and malaise. As of Tuesday, his fever had subsided, he said, and he attributed the improvement to hydroxychloroquine.

The right-wing populist posted a video to Facebook of him taking his third dose of hydroxychloroquine, which has also been promoted by U.S. President Donald Trump.

“Today I’m a lot better, so certainly it’s working,” Bolsonaro said, downing the dose with a glass of water. 

Brazil, the world’s sixth-biggest nation with more than 210 million people, is one of the outbreak’s most lethal hot spots. More than 65,000 Brazilians have died from COVID-19, and over 1.5 million have been infected.

Both numbers are the world’s second-highest totals, behind those of the U.S., though the true figures are believed to be higher because of a lack of widespread testing. On Tuesday alone, 1,254 deaths were confirmed.

WATCH | Respirologist on risk of airborne transmission of COVID-19:

Dr. Samir Gupta says there is not yet enough evidence to show significant spread of the coronavirus through airborne transmission. 5:40

In Europe, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday he took full responsibility for the government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, denying that he was trying to blame care workers for the spread of COVID-19.

Johnson has been criticized for saying some care homes did not follow procedures to stem the spread of COVID-19 deaths and was repeatedly asked by Opposition Labour Leader Keir Starmer to apologize. The prime minister did not do so.

Serbian police fired tear gas at protesters after being pelted with flares and stones on Wednesday as thousands protested in front of the Belgrade parliament despite warnings that such gatherings could spread the disease.

The evening before, violence erupted when a crowd stormed parliament in protest of plans to reimpose a lockdown following a new spike in COVID-19 cases. Forty-three police officers and 17 protesters were injured and there were 23 arrests.

Serbian riot police clashed with protesters in Belgrade on Wednesday. President Aleksandar Vucic backtracked Wednesday on his plans to reinstate a coronavirus lockdown in the capital after thousands protested the move. (Darko Vojinovic/The Associated Press)

Hours before Wednesday’s protest, President Aleksandar Vucic called on people to stop attending anti-government rallies to avoid a further spread of the coronavirus, warning there were no beds left in hospitals.

Although he had on Tuesday said a new lockdown would be imposed in Belgrade this weekend, Vucic said on Wednesday he had ultimately advised the government and health authorities not to introduce it. The government will announce a new set of restrictive measures on Thursday, he said.

In Romania, the number of COVID-19 cases now exceeds 30,000, with about 1,800 deaths, the government reported on Wednesday.

In Spain, Catalonia’s regional authorities will on Wednesday decide to make it mandatory to wear masks regardless of people’s ability to maintain a safe distance, becoming the country’s first region to do so, Catalan regional leader Quim Torra said.

Torra said the measure would come into force on Thursday.
Wearing masks indoors and outdoors is mandatory in Spain if people cannot guarantee a 1.5-metre distance from one another until a cure or vaccine for the coronavirus is found.

Spain said on Wednesday the daily infection count doubled in 24 hours amid dozens of small outbreaks.

Africa now has more than a half-million confirmed coronavirus cases. The continent-wide total is over 508,000, according to figures released Wednesday by the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The true number of cases among Africa’s 1.3 billion people is unknown as its 54 countries continue to face a serious shortage of testing materials for the virus.

“A tremendous problem. A real crisis of access,” the World Health Organization’s Africa chief, Matshidiso Moeti, said last week.

A boy stands in front of graffiti promoting the fight against the novel coronavirus in the Mathare slums of Nairobi, Kenya. (Baz Ratner/Reuters)

Already COVID-19 has killed more people in Africa — 11,955 — than Ebola did in its deadliest outbreak from 2014 to 2016 in West Africa, the WHO said Wednesday.

In Asia, Indonesia reported another record high of 1,863 coronavirus cases, bringing the national total above 68,000, while the government expects to slowly reopen the tourist island of Bali.

Fifty people died in the last 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 3,359, the highest in Southeast Asia.

Bali Governor I Wayan Koster said that starting Thursday, the island will gradually reopen to local tourists, then domestic and international tourists. It will open to Indonesians from other parts of the country on July 31 and to foreign tourists on Sept. 11.

In Iran, the death toll from COVID-19 passed 12,000 on Wednesday, health ministry spokesperson Sima Sadat Lari said in a statement on state TV. The total number of infections in the country has reached 248,379, she said. 

WATCH | Almost 5 million Australians under lockdown after spike in coronavirus cases:

Lockdown in Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city, includes the closure of the state border, creating headaches for people who routinely work or travel between Victoria and New South Wales. (Ross/AAP Image/Reuters) 1:08

In Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday said the country should slow down the return of its citizens from abroad, as Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, and surrounding regions began another partial lockdown to slow the spread of the virus.

The border between the states of Victoria and New South Wales, the busiest in the country, was closed overnight.

Morrison said he would take a proposal on reducing the number of repatriation flights to a national cabinet of state and territory leaders on Friday.

Published at Wed, 08 Jul 2020 12:28:45 +0000