The latest on the coronavirus pandemic around the U.S. and the world.

Arizona’s Republican governor shut down bars, movie theaters, gyms and water parks Monday and leaders in several states ordered residents to wear masks in public in a dramatic course reversal amid an alarming resurgence of coronavirus cases nationwide.

Among those implementing the face-covering orders is the city of Jacksonville, Florida, where mask-averse President Trump plans to accept the Republican nomination in August. Trump has refused to wear a mask during visits to states and businesses that require them.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s order went into effect immediately and for at least 30 days. Ducey also ordered public schools to delay the start of classes until at least Aug. 17. Most Arizona bars and nightclubs opened after the governor’s stay-at-home and business closure orders were allowed to expire in mid-May.

Arizona health officials reported 3,858 more confirmed coronavirus cases Sunday, the most reported in a single day in the state so far and the seventh time in the past 10 days that daily cases surpassed the 3,000 mark. Since the pandemic began, 74,500 cases and 1,588 deaths stemming from the virus have been reported in Arizona.

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People are tested in their in vehicles Saturday in Phoenix. Arizona’s governor shut down bars, movie theaters, gyms and water parks Monday, and leaders in several states ordered residents to wear masks in public in a dramatic course reversal caused by an alarming resurgence of coronavirus cases. Associated Press/Matt York

“Our expectation is that our numbers next week will be worse,” Ducey said Monday.

The state is not alone in its reversal. Places such as Texas, Florida and California are backtracking, closing beaches and bars in some cases amid a resurgence of the virus.

Read the full story on the resurgence of coronavirus here.

Tracking coronavirus cases proves difficult amid new surge

HOUSTON — Health departments around the U.S. that are using contact tracers to contain coronavirus outbreaks are scrambling to bolster their ranks amid a surge of cases and resistance to cooperation from those infected or exposed.

With too few trained contact tracers to handle soaring caseloads, one hard-hit Arizona county is relying on National Guard members to pitch in. In Louisiana, people who have tested positive typically wait more than two days to respond to health officials – giving the disease crucial time to spread. Many tracers are finding it hard to break through suspicion and apathy to convince people that compliance is crucial.

Contact tracing – tracking people who test positive and anyone they’ve come in contact with – was challenging even when stay-at-home orders were in place. Tracers say it’s exponentially more difficult now that many restaurants, bars and gyms are full, and people are gathering with family and friends.

Christella Uwera, Dishell Freeman, Alejandra Camarillo

Contact tracers, from left to right, Christella Uwera, Dishell Freeman and Alejandra Camarillo work at Harris County Public Health contact tracing facility on Thursday in Houston. On Monday, the U.S. reported 38,800 newly confirmed infections, with the total surpassing 2.5 million, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. David J. Phillip/Associated Press

“People are probably letting their guard down a little … they think there is no longer a threat,” said Grand Traverse County, Michigan, Health Officer Wendy Hirschenberger, who was alerted by health officials in another part of the state that infected tourists had visited vineyards and bars in her area.

Her health department was then able to urge local residents who had visited those businesses to self-quarantine.

Hirschenberger was lucky she received that information – only made possible because the tourists had cooperated with contact tracers. But that’s often not the case.

Read the full story on the challenge of tracking coronavirus infections here.

Jacksonville, site of Republican convention, orders wearing of masks

The city of Jacksonville, Florida, where mask-averse President Trump plans to accept the Republican nomination in August, ordered the wearing of face coverings Monday, joining the list of state and local governments reversing course to try to beat back a resurgence of the coronavirus.

Less than a week after Mayor Lenny Curry said there would be no mask requirement, city officials announced that coverings must be worn in “situations where individuals cannot socially distance.”

White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany responded by saying the president’s advice is to “do whatever your local jurisdiction requests of you.”

Trump has refused to wear a mask during visits to states and businesses that require them.

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People, social distancing and wearing masks to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, wait in line at a mask distribution event on Friday in a COVID-19 hotspot of the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami on Friday. Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

In recent weeks, the Republicans moved some of the convention pageantry to Jacksonville after Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina objected to the holding of a large gathering in Charlotte without social-distancing measures. The convention will be in late August.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has opposed a statewide mask requirement but said in response to Jacksonville’s action that he will support local authorities who are doing what they think is appropriate.

The Jacksonville order came on the same day that the head of the World Health Organization warned that the pandemic is “not even close to being over” and is accelerating.

“The worst is yet to come,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu. “With this kind of environment and condition, we fear the worst.”

Read the full story here.

Hundreds line up for tests as Florida cities close beaches

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Hundreds of people lined up at coronavirus testing sites around Florida on Monday, as the state remained in the virus’s grip.

St. Petersburg Police said on Twitter that a testing site located at Tropicana Field — where the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team normally plays — closed early because it was at capacity, shortly after 8 a.m.

The site ran out of tests, officials said. More than five hundred people lined up in their cars for testing. Police said the Florida Department of Health and BayCare, a hospital system asked people to “try again” when testing resumes Tuesday at 7 a.m.

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People, social distancing and wearing masks to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, wait in line at a mask distribution event on Friday. Hundreds of people lined up at coronavirus testing sites around Florida on Monday. Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

In Jacksonville, more than 300 cars lined up for testing at the TIAA Bank Field, where the NFL Jaguars play. The city’s leaders on Monday enacted a mandatory mask requirement for public & indoor locations, and “in other situations where individuals cannot socially distance.” The requirement begins at 5 p.m. Monday.

Beaches and bars in South Florida are closing, just days before the normally busy Fourth of July weekend. Monroe County, which comprises the Florida Keys, said Monday it would close beaches. Fireworks shows have also been canceled in several cities, and some attractions are closing their doors as well.

The Miami Seaquarium announced it would be closing temporarily beginning Monday in response to the rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases locally and statewide. The aquarium said they have not had any known or suspected cases and that the decision was out of an abundance of caution. Zoo Miami officials told local media late Sunday that four employees had tested positive for the new coronavirus, and they were canceling animal feedings.

The Florida Department of Health reported on Monday more than 5,400 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and three deaths. In total, the state now has more than 141,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 3,400 deaths.

Monday’s positive test numbers were fewer than in the past three days, possibly due to reporting lags over the weekend.

Florida is second only to Arizona in new cases per capita, with about 300 per 100,000 people over the past two weeks.

Hospitalizations have been ticking upward but still haven’t spiked as dramatically as new cases, with an average of about 170 to 174 new hospitalizations per day over the past five days, according to figures from covidtracker.com. State and hospital officials have said the new wave of confirmed infections has been in patients skewing younger who are less likely to develop severe illness and far less likely to end up in intensive care units.

Dr. Jason Foland of Studer Family Children’s Hospital in Pensacola said at a news conference Sunday that a less aggressive form of the virus appeared to currently be spreading in Florida.

Read the full story about Florida here.

Partial lockdown extended in German district

BERLIN — Authorities have extended by a week a partial lockdown in a western German district hit by a big coronavirus outbreak at a slaughterhouse.

The measures were imposed on Guetersloh county, home to some 360,000 people, for an initial one-week period nearly a week ago. Cinemas, gyms and bars were closed, but stores remained open and restaurants have been able to serve customers from the same household. People from the district have faced restrictions on travel elsewhere in Germany.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s state governor, Armin Laschet, said Monday that the measures are being extended by a week in Guetersloh as a precaution. But the partial lockdown will end on Tuesday in neighboring Warendorf county, where some of the slaughterhouse workers live.

New infections in Guetersloh, although they are falling, remain above 50 per 100,000 inhabitants over the past week, the level at which German regions are supposed to take action. But they have dropped below that level in Warendorf.

Laschet said that much-increased testing has shown no sign of infections crossing into the wider population in Warendorf, and “only a slight entry” into the population beyond slaughterhouse workers in Guetersloh.

Tokyo reports 58 new cases

TOKYO — Japan’s capital city of Tokyo reported 58 new cases of coronavirus, as the number remained at recent highs since last week and a top government official said the trend doesn’t look good.

The number of cases in Tokyo rose to 60 on Sunday, highest since early May and nearly doubling from 31 five days ago. About half of recent daily confirmed cases have been detected among staff or customers of Tokyo’s nightlife districts.

Tokyo’s numbers were at their highs since the late May lifting of a pandemic state of emergency.

“We are closely watching the latest development,” Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters. “Frankly, this gives me a rather bad feeling.”

He said he planned to meet with Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike to discuss the situation and a new set of caution scale that would balance disease prevention with maintaining economic activity. Koike planned to announce a new set of infection monitoring measures on Tuesday.

The latest cases brings Tokyo’s total infections to 6,172, with 325 deaths — about one-third of national total.

Greece relaxes restrictions further

ATHENS, Greece — Movie theaters, casinos and children’s summer camps reopened in Greece on Monday, while concerts, conferences, commercial fairs and artistic events can once again be held, in the latest phase of the country’s easing of lockdown measures.

Outdoor summer movie theaters have already been open for several weeks, but this is the first time indoor theaters will be able to operate since the lockdown was imposed in March.

Greece’s government imposed a lockdown early on in the country’s coronavirus outbreak, a move that has been credited with keeping the number of deaths and critically ill patients low. On Sunday, Greece reported no new deaths and 10 new cases, for a total of 191 deaths and 3,376 confirmed cases. The country has gradually been easing restrictions.

On Wednesday, international flights will be allowed at regional airports across the country once more. Currently tourists can fly into only Athens or the northern city of Thessaloniki. Greece has been eager to attract foreign visitors, as tourism makes up a significant part of the country’s economy.

New cases in Czech Republic continue to surge

PRAGUE — The number of new coronavirus cases in the Czech Republic continues to surge.

The day-to-day increase reached 305 on Sunday, the highest number since April 3.

The Czech Republic had a total of 11,604 confirmed cases of the virus through Sunday, including 348 deaths, according to Health Ministry figures.

Because of the increase in cases, Prague, the capital, and a region in the country’s northeast will remain under orders to wear face masks beyond July 1, when the order will be lifted for the rest of the country, Health Minister Adam Vojtech said Monday.

In Prague, it will still be compulsory to wear face coverings on the subway and at indoor public gatherings of more than 100 people.

In the northeastern region, face masks will remain mandatory in indoor public spaces, on public transport and at gatherings of more than 100 people. The outbreak in that region is linked to miners from a coal mine, their relatives and their other contacts.

India reports nearly 20,000 new infections

NEW DELHI — India on Monday reported nearly 20,000 new coronavirus infections, a new record for the country, as several states reimpose partial or full lockdowns to stem the spread of the virus.

India has seen a jump of nearly 100,000 cases over the past week, the health ministry said. In all, the country has confirmed 548,318 cases, making it the world’s fourth-worst affected country after the United States, Brazil and Russia. India’s death toll has reached 16,475.

The capital district of the northeastern state of Assam on the Bangladesh border has reimposed a full lockdown until July 12 following a spike in cases. Another border state, West Bengal, has extended its lockdown until July 31.

However, in India’s worst-affected states — Maharashtra, which includes India’s financial capital, Mumbai, and Delhi, home to the capital, New Delhi — most lockdown restrictions have been eased, with restaurants, shopping malls and parks reopened, and public buses and shared-ride services back on the roads.

Authorities in Philippines may face charges for parade

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine officials say authorities in a central village may face criminal or administrative complaints for allowing a street parade and dance amid a strict coronavirus lockdown.

Mayor Edgar Labella of Cebu city said officials of Basak village have been ordered to explain why the religious fiesta gathering in honor of St. John the Baptist was held Saturday despite a quarantine prohibition against public gatherings. Performers in native wear and face masks danced during the night procession, which drew a large crowd.

While the Philippines has eased quarantine restrictions in most regions to revive its contracting economy, officials placed Cebu city back under a strict lockdown this month and deployed more policemen to enforce restrictions following a spike in infections.

The Philippines remains a Southeast Asian coronavirus hotspot with more than 35,000 confirmed infections, including 1,244 deaths.

South Korea records 42 new cases

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 42 new infections of COVID-19 as infections steadily climb in the greater capital area, forcing authorities to consider stronger social restrictions.

The figures announced by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday brought the national caseload to 12,757, including 282 deaths. Twenty-four of the new cases were reported from capital Seoul and nearby metropolitan areas, which have been at the center of a virus resurgence since late May. At least 12 of the new cases were linked to international arrivals as the virus continues to strengthen its hold in southern Asia, the United States and beyond.

South Korea was reporting hundreds of new cases a day in late February and early March following a major surge surrounding the southeast city of Daegu, where the majority of infections were linked to a single church congregation with thousands of members.

But while health authorities had used aggressive testing and contact tracing to contain the outbreak in that region, they are having a much harder time tracking recent transmissions in the Seoul metropolitan area, where about half of the country’s 51 million people live. With people increasingly venturing out in the public, new clusters are popping out from just about everywhere, including nightspots, churches, restaurants, warehouses and among door-to-door salespeople.

Health Minister Park Neung-hoo during a briefing Sunday afternoon announced that the government is prepared to implement stronger social distancing measures if the epidemic continues to grow.

 


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