Coronavirus deaths in United States surpass 1,000 for fourth day in a row

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The United States recorded more than 1,000 coronavirus deaths on Friday for the fourth day in a row, as the disease continues to spread rapidly in the southern and western states.

The sustained increase in deaths comes after several weeks in which the number of coronavirus cases has increased dramatically. He passed 4m this week, an increase of 1m in just a fortnight.

As of Friday, 75,193 people had tested positive in the past 24 hours, according to data from the Covid Tracking Project, against 71,027 on Thursday. This is the second biggest single day jump on record.

The 1,178 deaths recorded on Friday marked the first time since May 23 that deaths have increased by more than 1,000 in four consecutive days. California, Texas and Florida all had record one-day deaths this week.

Much of the latest wave was attributed to the southern and western states which quickly reopened after being largely spared in the first months of the pandemic. The epidemics have yet to be as deadly as the first wave of infections that gripped the northeast, and New York City in particular, in March and April.

But there are worrying signs that death rates in solar belt states are expected to rise in the coming weeks, as hospitalizations rise steadily. The daily death toll nationwide had fallen as low as 209 earlier this month.

Earlier on Friday, Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, warned that the situation in California, Texas and Florida was starting to look like New York City at the height of its outbreak and urged state residents to change their behavior.

“What we have right now are basically three New Yorks,” Dr. Birx said. “That’s why you hear us calling for masks and more social distancing, to really stop the spread of this epidemic.”

After weeks of downplaying the severity of the virus, President Donald Trump on Thursday canceled plans to hold most of the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, Fla., Saying it was “not the right time” for a ” large, crowded convention ”and felt that it would be“ wrong for people to go to what turned out to be a hotspot ”.

Florida has become one of the main centers of the current wave of coronavirus cases in the solar belt – and opinion polls have shown the president losing ground to Mr Biden in the presidential race as the There was growing disapproval of his handling of the pandemic. As of Friday, the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the state surpassed 400,000. Only California and New York have recorded more cases since the start of the pandemic.

Line graph of total number of cases for U.S. states with over 300,000 confirmed Covid-19 infections showing Florida becomes third state to confirm over 400,000 cases

Mr Trump resumed holding regular media briefings this week, as he did at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and admitted that the crisis “would unfortunately probably get worse before it gets better.” He also tweeted an image of himself wearing a face mask, which he compared to a “patriotic” act.

There is no federal mandate for face coverings, however, which has left states, counties, and businesses to introduce their own requirements.

Ohio, Indiana, Oregon and Minnesota on Wednesday issued broader mask-wearing requirements, as did the mayors of Washington DC and Baltimore, Maryland. On Thursday, a judge ordered mediation in a lawsuit filed by the Republican governor of Georgia aimed at preventing the Democratic mayor of his largest city, Atlanta, from carrying out a mandate to wear masks in public.

A growing number of companies have also ordered face masks to wear in their stores, including McDonald’s, as restaurants, stores and other businesses try to cautiously restart operations.

One of the most controversial aspects of the reopening debate has been whether to resume face-to-face teaching in schools this fall. Experts have questioned whether it was better to allow children – who appear less vulnerable to the disease – to return to school, or whether that would risk the virus spreading further and faster than before.

Mr. Trump called on students to return to classrooms when the new school year begins. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday established guidelines that schools should reopen if the positive test rate for Covid-19 in their neighboring area is less than 5%.

Mitchell Zais, assistant secretary for education, estimated that parents who did not work to care for children cost the economy $ 232 billion and that reopening schools should be the “default” option.

The reopening debate resulted in a wide range of policy approaches in states and regions of the United States. Florida’s largest teachers’ union this week filed a lawsuit challenging a state order that schools should be open at least five days a week and provide a full range of services when term begins.

On July 17, California set guidelines that will likely prevent most of its schools from resuming in-person learning, just days after hard-hit counties of Los Angeles and San Diego decided not to allow students to return to classrooms.

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