As the U.S. hits a new record for daily coronavirus cases, the White House Coronavirus Task Force held its first public briefing in nearly two months and the governors of Texas and Florida hit pause on their reopening plans, with both states effectively closing bars to limit the spread of coronavirus.
Coronavirus cases are trending upward in about half of U.S. states, and several have reported record-breaking daily new case counts this week, according to Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. reported 39,972 daily cases of the coronavirus Thursday, a new daily record, according to Johns Hopkins.
But the actual number of infections is likely 10 times the number of reported cases, said Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on Thursday. That would mean officials estimate that 20 million Americans, or 6% of the nation's 331 million people, have actually been infected, leaving the vast majority of the population susceptible.
America’s death toll also has taken a dramatic spike upward after New Jersey added 1,854 people to its official toll. The deaths occurred throughout the pandemic, but all the previously uncounted fatalities were included in Thursday’s total – creating an artificial one-day spike in national death numbers.
Here are the most significant developments of the day:
California Gov. Gavin Newsom is urging one county to reinstate its stay-at-home order amid a surge in positive coronavirus tests there.
One day after pausing additional efforts to reopen Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday announced another round of restrictions, including closing bars and limiting restaurant occupancy. And in Florida, bars on Friday were prohibited from allowing alcohol consumption.
The federal government will continue to fund community testing sites across Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday. The sites were due to stop receiving funding at the end of the month.
In their first public briefing since April 27, White House Coronavirus Task Force officials pleaded with adults under 40 to act responsibly to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Vice President Mike Pence did not wear a mask during the news conference.
📈Today's stats: Worldwide infections have surpassed 9.7 million, with more than 2.4 million in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 494,000 people have died worldwide, with more than 124,000 deaths in the U.S.
📰 What we're reading: As states struggle to manage rising COVID-19 cases, the next two weeks are "critical" for coronavirus spread, Dr. Anthony Fauci says. We explain why.
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Infections up in some hot areas
New coronavirus infections are surging in some of America’s hottest places. Florida on Friday became the second state, after New York, to report more than 8,900 new cases in a single day. But New York’s high was back in April.
That report came as Florida neared an all-time heat record. Sun-baked Texas and Arizona are also getting hit particularly hard by coronavirus. Outside the U.S., crippling outbreaks are underway in such sweltering places as India and Mexico.
President Donald J. Trump suggested several times starting last winter that coronavirus would dissipate as warm temperatures came in April. “The virus that we’re talking about having to do, a lot of people think that goes away in April, with the heat, as the heat comes in, typically that will go away in April,” Trump told governors in February, The New York Times reported.
Trump said at a February campaign rally in Manchester, "The virus: They're working hard. Looks like by April, you know, in theory when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away. Hope that's true. ... We only have 11 cases and they're all getting better.”
Instead, April was the deadliest month, claiming the lives of 57,723 Americans, Johns Hopkins University data indicate.
– Mike Stucka
New Jersey says 1,854 additional residents likely died of coronavirus
New Jersey added 1,854 people to its official toll after counting them as probable COVID-19 deaths. The deaths occurred throughout the pandemic, but all the previously uncounted fatalities were included in Thursday’s total – creating an artificial one-day spike in national death numbers.
“We report this out of nothing else than a solemn sense of duty," Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday. "For many families we hope these determinations will provide a sense of closure and of finally knowing. For our state, I hope it steels our resolve to do all that we can to save every single life that we can save.”
The state previously counted lab-confirmed cases. The newly released numbers add people whose deaths included COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2 or novel coronavirus on the death certificates. They also include people who died in known outbreaks, like those in nursing homes, but without tests; and people who received an early but no-longer accepted coronavirus test, Gannett New Jersey reported.
On Wednesday, data reported from Johns Hopkins University said America recorded 754 deaths in one day; with New Jersey’s deaths reported Thursday, the count leaped to 2,425. Though relatively few of those deaths actually occurred recently, it’s the single-largest increase in coronavirus deaths since April 29 in the Johns Hopkins data.
– Stacey Barchenger and Mike Stucka
California urges one county to re-institute stay-at-home order
Gov. Gavin Newsom is urging Imperial County to "pull back" and reinstate its stay-at-home order amid a surge in positive coronavirus tests there and through much of the state.
About 23% of people tested in the Southern California county, which borders the Mexican state of Baja California, are positive for COVID-19, according to Dr. Sonia Angell, director of the California Department of Public Health and state health officer.
That rate is "particularly concerning," Angell said Friday afternoon. The state places counties on a watch list if more than 10% of people test positive.
– Rebecca Plevin and Mark Olalde, Palm Springs Desert Sun
16 NBA players test positive for COVID-19
Sixteen NBA players of 302 tested positive for the coronavirus, the NBA and National Basketball Players Association said in a joint news release Friday.
"Any player who tested positive will remain in self-isolation until he satisfies public health protocols for discontinuing isolation and has been cleared by a physician," both organizations said in a statement.
Teams started mandatory testing for players on Tuesday, and Denver’s Nikola Jokic, Indiana’s Malcolm Brogdon and Sacramento’s Jabari Parker were among those who have tested positive.
– Jeff Zillgitt
Trump administration extends funding for testing sites in Texas
The federal government will continue to fund community testing sites across Texas as the state sees record-breaking increases in new daily coronavirus cases, Gov. Greg Abbott announced in a press statement Friday.
The Trump administration had planned to end federal funding of 13 coronavirus testing sites in five states on June 30 in favor of a "more sustainable model" done in coordination with the states and retail and pharmacy partnerships, according to a senior administration official earlier this week.
The sites – in Colorado, Pennsylvania, Illinois, New Jersey and Texas – were originally expected to stop receiving funding in May but received a 30-day extension. Texas is home to seven of the sites.
Fauci, task force urge adults under 40 to act more responsibly
Administration officials pleaded with adults under 40 on Friday to act responsibly to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In the first public meeting of the White House Coronavirus Task Force since late April, several administration officials said the rising number of cases in states like Florida, Texas and Arizona suggest that younger adults are not following public health guidance for containing the COVID-19 outbreak.
Healthy young people are less likely to suffer the worst symptoms of COVID-19, but they can still infect others – numbers suggest that everyone who catches the virus infects at least one other person, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. And some of those people will be vulnerable to breathing struggles, organ failure, immune overreaction and even death from COVID-19, he said.
– Karen Weintraub
Pence doesn't wear face mask in task force briefing
Vice President Mike Pence on Friday mentioned everything health officials say Americans should do to protect themselves and others against the coronavirus — hand washing, avoiding touching the face, disinfecting frequently.
He pointedly did not mention two of the CDC's main pieces of advice — wearing face masks and social distancing. Pence was speaking at the first news conference the White House Coronavirus Task Force has held since April 27. He did not wear a mask during the news conference.
Health officials in attendance, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, wore masks except when speaking at the microphone.
– Elizabeth Weise
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Startling images reveal coronavirus forming tentacles in cells
Startling, never-before-seen images show that the new coronavirus hijacks proteins in our cells to create monstrous tentacles that branch out and may transmit infection to neighboring cells.
The finding, accompanied by evidence of potentially more effective drugs against COVID-19, published Saturday in the journal Cell by an international team of scientists.
By focusing on the fundamental behavior of the virus — how it hijacks key human proteins and uses them to benefit itself and harm us — the team was able to identify a family of existing drugs called kinase inhibitors that appear to offer the most effective treatment yet for COVID-19.
– Mark Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Florida bars must stop serving alcohol as state sees almost 9,000 daily cases
Florida is ordering bars to stop serving alcohol effective immediately.The Department of Business and Professional Regulation on Friday morning announced on Twitter that it was suspending on premises consumption of alcohol at bars statewide.
The new state requirement only applies to bars, so restaurants that serve alcohol can remain open. The order announced Friday suspends the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises "for all vendors licensed for such sale who derive more than 50 percent of gross revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages," the state agency said in a news release."
The news comes as the state Friday smashed the daily record for new COVID-19 cases with 8,942 reported. That's a 62% increase over the previous record of 5,508 reported Wednesday.
– Dave Osborn, Naples Daily News
Young Americans less likely to social distance, survey says
Nearly half of young Americans say they’ve hung out with people outside of their household without social distancing, according to a new survey.
Among Americans ages 18 to 29, 45% said in the past week they have socialized with people they do not live with while not maintaining social distancing, according to a new survey from the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project. That is the highest rate among all age groups, with those ages 30 to 44 trailing just slightly at 42%.
That is almost two times the rate of other age groups. Among Americans ages 45 to 64, 28% reported socializing without social distancing. Americans over 65 were the least likely (21%) to have hung out with people they don't live with while not social distancing.
– Rebecca Morin
Texas closes bars, limits restaurant occupancy
One day after pausing additional efforts to reopen Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday announced another round of restrictions, including closing bars and limiting restaurant occupancy.
The executive order requires Texas bars to close at noon Friday, although those businesses can still remain open for delivery and take out, including for alcoholic beverages. Restaurant dining rooms can remain open, but the order moves occupancy levels from 75% to 50%.
And outdoor gatherings of 100 or more must be approved by local governments, with exceptions for professional and collegiate sports, swimming pools, water parks, museums and libraries, zoos, and rodeo and equestrian events. Those businesses can remain open without approval from local governments but must operate at 50% occupancy.
– Nicole Cobler, Austin American-Statesman
Trump administration considering 'pool testing' for coronavirus
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, told the Washington Post that officials are talking about implementing a new strategy that tests groups of people together.
It's known as pool testing, where samples from multiple people are combined and tested as a group.
Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said this week that "pooling would give us the capacity to go from a half a million tests a day to potentially 5 million individuals tested per day," according to health news site STAT.
Analysis: Younger people are a factor in surge of COVID-19 cases
A USA TODAY analysis finds that while most cases prior to late May were people 45 and older, most new cases since then are among younger people.
The rapid growth in coronavirus infections among younger Americans is one factor behind why some states have broken single-day records this week, and it marks a new phase in a U.S. pandemic that first gained widespread attention with a Washington nursing home outbreak in late February and early March.
Total cases among people younger than 45 have grown nearly twice as fast as for people 65 and older since late May, USA TODAY's analysis of CDC data shows. The younger the age cohort, the more rapid the pace of growth.
Although COVID-19 has been known mainly for its impact on seniors, experts said the disease can debilitate patients in young age groups as well. And they warned that an expansion in cases among younger people ultimately threatens any vulnerable person with whom they come in contact.
– Jayme Fraser, Matt Wynn, Dan Keemahill and Karen Weintraub
Biden says he'd require everyone to wear masks in public
Former Vice President Joe Biden said in a Thursday television interview he would require wearing face masks in public to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Asked by Pittsburgh CBS affiliate KDKA what he would do to help halt the surge in coronavirus cases, Biden said he would "go back to making sure that everyone had masks."
When asked if he would use federal powers to require the wearing of masks, Biden said, "Yes, I would. From an executive standpoint, yes I would."
Biden and Trump have struck different tones on face masks while coronavirus case counts continue to rise and the United States reaches new records for daily cases. Trump called masks a "double-edged sword" in an interview with the Wall Street Journal last week and has retweeted posts making fun of Biden for wearing one.
– Nicholas Wu
Florida pauses reopening plan; Arizona stops elective surgeries
In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a press conference Thursday that he had no plans of moving to phase three of the state's economic reopening plan, according to WTFS-TV.
Phase two kicked in June 5, allowing for 50% capacity in bars, restaurants, movie theaters, concert venues, arcades and other entertainment businesses, not including some hard-hit counties. There was no official date for phase three, but DeSantis said he's unwilling to start the final stage until the second phase has been successfully completed.
Meanwhile, some Arizona hospitals are pausing elective surgeries or considering pausing them to ensure there’s enough capacity to handle the influx of patients. Hospitals were allowed to resume elective procedures May 1 provided they met certain criteria for available personal protective equipment, beds and staffing, according to an executive order from Gov. Doug Ducey in late April.
– Rachel Leingang and Alison Steinbach, Arizona Republic
18 family members in Texas test positive after birthday party
Eighteen members of a North Texas family tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a surprise birthday party in late May. Only one member of the family unknowingly had the virus at the time of the party, WFAA reports.
"We knew this was going to happen. I mean this whole time this has been going on we’ve been terrified," Ron Barbosa told WFAA.
Barbosa, who is a volunteer EMT, and his wife, a doctor, chose not to attend the party, which was hosted by his nephew, due to safety reasons. Barbosa said his family suspects his nephew, who had a slight cough at the time of the party, was the family member who was unknowingly infected after possibly being exposed at work.
Those infected include two young children, Barbosa’s elderly parents and his sister, who is battling breast cancer. Barbosa’s father, Frank, was admitted to the hospital on June 17 and placed in the intensive care unit soon after, where he remains.
While it appears that most of Barbosa’s family is on the road to recovery, the experience serves as a warning for what could happen even when proper safety precautions are attempted. Barbosa says all 25 people who attended the party attempted to remain socially distant, and not all of the attendees were there for the entirety of the party.
– Lauren Mitchell, Austin American-Statesman
More on the coronavirus from USA TODAY
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Contributing: Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Covid cases: Texas, Florida pause reopening; pool testing; NBA players