ROME (AP) – Coronavirus infections confirmed worldwide reached the 10 million mark on Sunday as Polish and French voters went to the polls for elections delayed by the virus.
New clusters of cases in a Swiss nightclub and in the central English city of Leicester have shown that the virus is still widely circulating in Europe, but not with the rapidly growing infection rate seen in parts of the United States, from Latin America and India.
Wearing mandatory masks, social isolation in the lines and carrying their own pens to sign the voting lists, French voters voted in the second round of the municipal elections. Poles also wore masks and used hand sanitizer, and some in virus-affected areas were asked to send their ballots to avoid further contagion.
“I did not go to vote the first time because I am an elderly person and I was afraid,” said Fanny Barouh when voting in a Paris school.
While the United States is concerned about large states like Texas, Arizona and Florida reporting thousands of new cases a day, rural states are also experiencing outbreaks, including in Kansas, where livestock outnumber humans.
The management of the epidemic by the United States has raised concerns from abroad. The European Union seems almost certain to prevent the Americans from visiting the bloc in the short term as it sets new travel rules which will be announced shortly.
Inflation has prompted Vice President Mike Pence to cancel campaign events in Florida and Arizona, although he will still travel to those states and Texas this week to meet with their Republican governors. These three governors have been criticized for aggressively reopening their economies after virus blockages despite rising infections in their states.
After confirmed daily infections in the U.S. peaked at 40,000 on Friday, Texas and Florida reversed course and closed bars in their states again. Arizona Republican Governor Doug Ducey reversed and allowed cities and counties to demand masks in public even if he has not been seen wearing one.
“It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon,” said Dr. Lisa Goldberg, director of the emergency department at the Tucson Medical Center in Arizona. “In fact, it’s an ultra-marathon. “
US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar noted that “the window is closing” for the United States to take steps to effectively control the coronavirus.
Azar has reported a recent spike in infections, particularly in the south. He says that people must “act responsibly” by taking social distances and wearing face masks, especially “in these hot spots”.
Speaking on NBC and CNN, Azar said the United States is better placed than it was two months ago to fight the virus, as it conducts more tests and has therapies to treat COVID-19.
But he acknowledged that hospitalizations and deaths could increase in the coming weeks.
Globally, confirmed cases of COVID-19 have crossed the 10 million mark and confirmed deaths have approached half a million, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University, the United States, Brazil, the Russia and India with the most cases. The United States also has the highest virus mortality rate in the world, with more than 125,000.
Experts say all of these numbers significantly underestimate the true toll of the pandemic, due to limited testing and mild missed cases. Last week, experts from the United States government estimated that the United States alone could have produced 20 million cases.
Concerns about workplace infections increased after Tyson Foods announced that 371 employees at its chicken processing plant in southwest Missouri were positive for COVID-19.
In Washington State, Governor Jay Inslee has suspended plans to move the counties to the fourth phase of his reopening plan as cases continue to increase. But in Hawaii, the city of Honolulu has announced that campgrounds will reopen for the first time in three months with limited permissions to ensure social distancing.
The British government, meanwhile, is examining whether a local foreclosure is necessary for the central English city of Leicester amid reports of a spike in COVID-19 among its Asian community. It would be Britain’s first local foreclosure.
“We have seen outbreaks across the country in recent weeks,” Interior Minister Priti Patel told the BBC on Sunday.
Polish voters voted, in person and by mail, for a presidential election which should have taken place in May but was chaoticly postponed in the middle of the pandemic. President Andrzej Duda, a 48-year-old conservative backed by the ruling nationalist Law and Justice party, is running against 10 other candidates as he seeks a second five-year term.
Iwona Goge, 79, was encouraged to see so many people voting in Warsaw.
” It’s bad. Poland is terribly divided and people are getting discouraged, ”she said.
French voters chose mayors and city councilors from Paris and 5,000 cities in a second round of municipal elections held under strict hygiene rules. Major battlegrounds include Paris, where the next mayor will preside over the 2024 Summer Olympics. The spread of the virus in France has slowed considerably but is expected to further hamper participation on Sunday.
Italy honored its dead last Sunday with an evening Requiem concert in the hard-hit province of Bergamo. The ceremony at the epicenter of the European epidemic took place one day after Italy recorded the lowest daily count of deaths from COVID-19 in almost four months: eight.
European leaders did not take a chance to demolish new clusters. German authorities have renewed the lockdown in a western region of around 500,000 people after around 1,300 slaughterhouse workers tested positive. Swiss authorities have ordered the quarantine of 300 people after an epidemic of “super spreader” coronavirus in a Zurich nightclub.
In Asia, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his country should focus on strengthening the economy after the blockages, even though the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise. India reported on 19,906 additional confirmed cases on Sunday, bringing its total to nearly 529,000 with 16,095 deaths. The pandemic has revealed great inequalities in India, with public hospitals being overwhelmed by cases of the virus while the wealthy are receiving specialized treatment in private hospitals.
China has reported 17 new cases, all but three of internal transmission in Beijing. But authorities say a campaign to test employees of the city’s hair and beauty salons has so far found no positive cases.