Texas, Florida recall upon reopening, restricting bars as new coronavirus cases peak

Texas and Florida closed the bars again on Friday in the biggest retreat so far amid a surge in the south and west that sent the number of new confirmed coronavirus infections per day in the US to a record high of 40,000.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered the closure of all bars, while Florida banned alcohol consumption in all of those establishments. Together, the two states joined the small but growing list of those who are regressing or putting on hold any reopening of their economies due to the virus’s return.

Abbott has so far pursued one of the most aggressive reopening times in any state and not only has resisted calls to order the use of masks, but has also refused until last week to allow local governments to take such measurements.

“It is clear that the increase in cases is largely due to certain types of activities, including Texans who congregate in bars,” he said. “Actions in this executive order are essential to our mission to quickly contain this virus and protect public health.”

The Florida agency that governs the bars acted after the daily number of confirmed cases approached 9,000, a record that nearly doubled the previous mark set just two days earlier.

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Meanwhile, Texas reported more than 17,000 new confirmed cases in the past three days, with a record of nearly 6,000 on Thursday. The day’s count of more than 4,700 hospitalizations was also a record.

Several of the hardest hit states, including Texas, Florida, Arizona and Arkansas, have Republican governors who have resisted the requirements to wear masks and echoed President Donald Trump’s desire to quickly reopen the economy.

Amid the surge, the White House coronavirus task force, chaired by Vice President Pence, was scheduled to hold its first briefing in nearly two months on Friday afternoon. noting management’s recognition that it cannot ignore the alarming increases.

Meanwhile, the number of new confirmed infections in the US per day exceeded the previous high of 36,400, set on April 24, during one of the deadliest stretches of the crisis thus far, according to the count maintained by the Johns Hopkins University. The average number of new cases per day has increased approximately 60 percent in the past two weeks, according to an analysis by the Associated Press.

While the increase is believed to partly reflect widely expanded evidence, experts say there is ample evidence that the virus is making a comeback, including rising deaths and hospitalizations in parts of the country, especially in the south and west. .

Deaths from the coronavirus in the US fell to around 600 per day, compared to around 2,200 in mid-April. Despite the increase in cases, some experts have expressed doubts that deaths will return to that level, due to advances in treatment and prevention and also because a large part of new infections occur in younger adults, who they are more likely than the older ones to survive. .

The virus is attributed to 124,000 deaths in the US and 2.4 million confirmed infections nationwide, according to the Johns Hopkins count. But US health officials said the true number of infected Americans is about 20 million, or almost 10 times more. Worldwide, the virus has claimed nearly half a million lives, according to Johns Hopkins.

In addition to closing bars again, Abbott reduced the restaurant’s capacity and shuttered rafting operations, saying that any outdoor gathering of more than 100 people will need approval from the local government. The move came when the number of patients in Texas hospitals across the state doubled in two weeks.

On Thursday, Arizona suspended efforts to reopen the economy, and Republican Governor Doug Ducey said the numbers “continue to go in the wrong direction.” Arizona reported more than 3,000 additional infections on Thursday, the fourth day of a week with a rise above that mark.

The Nevada governor ordered the use of facial masks in public, including Las Vegas casinos.

Elsewhere in the world, China came close to containing a new outbreak in Beijing. Another record daily rise in India pushed the workload in the world’s second most populous nation toward half a million. And other countries with large populations such as Indonesia, Pakistan, and Mexico dealt with large numbers of infections and strained healthcare systems.

South Africa, which accounts for about half of infections on the African continent with more than 118,000, reported a record nearly 6,600 new cases after loosening what had been one of the world’s strictest blockades earlier this month.

Italy, one of the most affected European nations, struggled to control an outbreak among seasonal Bulgarian crop gatherers near Naples.

The governor of the southern region of Campania insisted that workers who live in an apartment complex with dozens of COVID-19 cases remain indoors for just over two weeks, without even going out to look for food, the authorities will deliver food.