Europe, US watch total number of COVID-19 cases rise, debate new restrictions

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CHICAGO – Confirmed coronavirus infections continued to soar on Saturday in many parts of the United States and Europe. In some cases, anger over restrictions imposed by governments in an attempt to stem the tide has done the same.

Oklahoma, Illinois, New Mexico and Michigan were among states that announced new records of confirmed daily cases on Saturday, a day after a national daily record of more than 83,000 reported infections, according to Johns University Hopkins.

Michigan Medical Director Dr Joneigh Khaldun said it was “now more important than ever that people take this seriously.” The 3,338 new cases of COVID-19 in his state have surpassed the old record of more than 1,300.

German authorities reported a record-breaking one-day total of new coronavirus cases this weekend, as leaders in Spain and Italy debated how to control the resurgence of the virus as the public pushed back curfews despite a number worldwide deaths exceeding 1.1 million people.

In Italy, officials gathered with regional authorities on Saturday to determine what new restrictions could be imposed, with confirmed cases exceeding half a million.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said he does not want to put Italy back under strict lockdown, as he did at the start of the pandemic. In recent days, several governors have ordered night curfews in their areas to prevent people from gathering at night in front of bars and other places.

Such a curfew fueled anger in Naples, sparking a violent clash between protesters and police. Italian media said the protesters threw stones, pieces of broken ceramic tiles and smoke bombs at police as they retaliated with tear gas. Elsewhere in Europe, police in Warsaw, Poland have used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse protesters angry at new virus restrictions, and anti-lockdown protesters have gathered in Trafalgar Square in London.

Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese on Saturday called the Naples protests “unacceptable” and said prosecutors were investigating.

According to figures from the Ministry of Health, the number of new cases of confirmed one-day infections in Italy approached 20,000 on Saturday, a daily increase slightly larger than on Friday. The confirmed death toll in the country, the second highest in Europe after Britain, has risen to 37,210 after 151 more deaths.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez plans to meet his cabinet on Sunday morning in Madrid to prepare for a new state of emergency, a strategy used twice since the start of the pandemic.

The first in March ordered strict home isolation across the country, closed shops and recruited private industry into the national fight for public health. The second entered into force two weeks ago, focusing on transit limits in the Madrid region.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel once again urged citizens to reduce their number of social contacts as the country recorded a new daily record of infections.

The 14,714 cases reported on Saturday include cases on Friday and Thursday due to a three-hour data outage on Thursday at the country’s disease control agency. Forty-nine other people died, bringing the total death toll to more than 10,000.

The Chancellor said in her weekly podcast “If we all obey (social distancing) we will all survive this huge challenge posed by the virus together.” ”

Other European countries have tightened restrictions in hopes of dealing with their own growing number of cases.

Slovenia has closed hotels, shopping malls and other non-essential stores as authorities reported a record level of new daily infections and deaths in the small country of 2 million people. Greece has unveiled a mask requirement and a mandatory nighttime curfew for Athens and other areas deemed to be at high risk.

In South America, Colombia became the eighth country to reach 1 million confirmed cases of coronavirus on Saturday, according to the Colombian Ministry of Health. Two of the others are also in Latin America: Argentina, which reached that level on Monday, and Brazil, which has more than 5 million confirmed cases.

In the United States, the virus has killed around 240,000 people, according to the COVID-19 dashboard released by Johns Hopkins. The total number of cases reported in the United States on Friday was 83,757, exceeding the 77,362 cases reported on July 16.

Many rural communities are paying the price. In Columbia, Tennessee, the Maury Regional Medical Center said Friday it was suspending elective surgeries requiring an overnight stay for two weeks, effective Monday. The Daily Herald reported it was treating 50 COVID-19 hospital patients, 20 of whom were in the 26-bed intensive care unit at the medical center.

Martin Chaney, chief medical officer for Maury Regional, said small home gatherings have become the emerging threat through which the disease is spreading in the six-county area covered by the medical center.

“In our homes, we’ve all let our guard down,” Chaney said. “You think it’s safe not to distance yourself socially and you take off your masks. This spreads the disease very quickly. “

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