Healthcare workers place a sample from a patient into a tube for testing in the Brooklyn borough of New York. AFP
Two of America's largest states have reversed course and clamped down on bars again in the nation's biggest retreat yet as the daily number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the US surged Friday to an all-time high of 45,300.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered all bars closed, while Florida banned alcohol at such establishments. The two states joined a small but growing number that are either backtracking or putting any further reopening of their economies on hold because of a comeback by the virus, mostly in the country's South and West.
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Health experts have said a disturbingly large number of cases are being seen among young people who are going out again, often without wearing masks or observing other social-distancing rules.
"It is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars,” Abbott said.
The Republican governor, who had pursued one of the most aggressive reopening schedules of any state, also scaled back restaurant capacity and said outdoor gatherings of more than 100 people would need approval from local officials.
Mayor Carlos Gimenez in Florida's Miami-Dade county announced Friday night he would close beaches over the Fourth of July weekend. He said cracking down on recreational activities is prudent given the growing number of infections among young adults.
Stocks fell sharply on Wall Street over the surging case numbers. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 730 points, or nearly 3%.
In Florida, the agency that regulates bars acted after the daily number of new confirmed cases neared 9,000, almost doubling the record set just two days earlier.
Colleen Corbett, a 30-year-old bartender at two places in Tampa, said that she was disappointed and worried about being unemployed again but that the restrictions are the right move. Most customers were not wearing masks, she said.
"It was like they forgot there was a pandemic or just stopped caring," Corbett said.
A number of the hardest-hit states, including Florida and Arizona, have Republican governors who have resisted mask-wearing requirements and largely echoed President Donald Trump’s desire to reopen the economy quickly despite warnings the virus could come storming back.
The White House coronavirus task force, led by Vice President Mike Pence, held its first briefing in nearly two months Friday, and Pence gave assurances that the U.S. is "in a much better place” than it was two months ago.
He said the country has more medical supplies on hand, a smaller share of patients are being hospitalized, and deaths are much lower than they were in the spring.
The count of new confirmed infections, provided by Johns Hopkins University, eclipsed the previous high of 40,000 set the previous day. Newly reported cases per day have risen on average about 60% over the past two weeks, according to an Associated Press analysis.
Johns Hopkins counted 45,300 new coronavirus infections in the US on Saturday after three days in which the daily count reached as high as 54,500 new cases.
The Memorial Day weekend that signals the start of the US summer is normally a time when cemeteries across the nation fill with American flags and ceremonies to remember those who died in US wars.
The travel ban was a blow to right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has followed the example of US President Donald Trump in addressing the pandemic, fighting calls for social distancing and touting unproven drugs.
The Ministry, on Saturday, on its official twitter account said, “In view of the announcement by the health authorities in the Federal Republic of Tanzania and the Republic of Equatorial Guinea of monitoring outbreaks of "Marburg" virus, and based on the Ministry's concern for the safety of the country's citizens, the Ministry advises to postpone travel to the Federal Republic of Tanzania and the Republic of Equatorial Guinea in this period.”
Environmental activists threw black liquid into the waters of a Roman fountain in Piazza di Spagna in the Italian capital, Rome, during a protest in which they spoke of the "end of the world" scenario.
They also do not know how to draw the attention of passersby to help them, which puts them at serious risks including death.