A long-feared surge in COVID-19 cases is underway in the U.S. and abroad, leading to a new round of virus-related rules in some areas, restrictions that have quickly met pushback.
The U.S., now topping 9 million cases, on Friday posted a record number of cases for a single day, 99,321, and a record 551,167 cases in a week.
A judge in El Paso County, Texas, ordered a two-week shutdown of nonessential services starting at midnight Friday amid growing hospitalizations in the area. Texas’ attorney general has joined several restaurant owners in suing to block the order.
A surge in coronavirus cases has led officials in Harrison County, Iowa — a heavily Republican county — to require people to wear face masks in public. But Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds has continued this week to downplay efforts to contain the virus and has rejected mask requirements. Reynolds has said Iowans must learn to live with the virus.
Meanwhile in Europe, hard-hit Belgium imposed a partial lockdown in an attempt to gain control of the virus’ spread. In France, authorities ordered another four-week lockdown that began Friday, and Austria planned to shut hotels and restaurants in a second shutdown.
In London, British prime minister Boris Johnson announced a national, four-week lockdown in England starting Thursday that will close nonessential retail shops, pubs, restaurants and entertainment businesses.
This week, the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predicted daily U.S. deaths will triple by mid-January, although increased mask use can still save lives and delay the need for social distancing mandates, the influential model said.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 9 million cases and more than 229,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 45 million cases and 1.18 million deaths.
British PM announces new, four-week lockdown in England
British prime minister Boris Johnson announced plans Saturday for a four-week national lockdown in England starting next week that will shut pubs, restaurants, entertainment facilities and nonessential businesses.
Schools, universities and manufacturing facilities will remain open during the period from Thursday until Dec. 2.
“Unless we act, we could see deaths in this country running at several thousand a day,” Johnson said.
Johnson said that individuals will only be allowed to leave their homes for specific reasons like medical appointments, shopping for essentials, education and work that cannot be done from their residence.
“No one wants to be imposing these kinds of measures anywhere,” the prime minister said, but added that “no responsible prime minister can ignore” the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, told reporters at a news conference that England is experiencing 50,000 new cases daily and that the figure is rising.
Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, will shed 10,903 unionized employees as part of the 28,000 layoffs that the company has previously announced, it was disclosed Friday in a filing to the state.
Walt Disney Co. blamed the layoffs on the “continuing business impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic” in the document, obtained by Fox 35 TV. Overall, Disney said its parks and resorts division will lose 11,350 employees in Florida in total, all due to be laid off on Dec. 31.
The layoffs underscore how deeply the pandemic has cut into tourism. Walt Disney World reopened in July with new protocols in place to try to protect guests and employees from the coronavirus.
In a blog post Friday, a Disney official said the impacts from the pandemic have lasted longer than expected.
“As a result,” wrote Bettina Buckley, vice president of Walt Disney World Live Entertainment, “we’ve had to pause many live shows and entertainment experiences at our resort for longer than originally anticipated.” Instead, she said the resort has created new entertainment choices and experiences.
US hits 9 million COVID-19 cases, far ahead of other countries
The United States has hit the 9 million mark when it comes to coronavirus cases, Johns Hopkins University reports.
The U.S. also posted a record for cases in a single day — 99,231on Friday — and cases for a single week — 551,167.
With a count of 9,048,430 cases as of 9 a.m. EDT, the U.S. bests the next highest country, India by more than 911,000 cases. India comes in at 8,137,119 and Brazil with 5,516,658 cases. After that comes Russia, France and Spain.
The U.S. also crossed another milestone Saturday, posting 230,009 deaths.
The increase comes amid a surge of new cases in the U.S. as the weather becomes colder. On Oct. 23, the nation hit a new one-day record, 83,757 new daily cases, according to Johns Hopkins.
President Donald Trump’s campaign events may have caused some 30,000 new cases of COVID-19 and could lead to 700 deaths, according to a Stanford University study that relied on prediction models to measure the public health impact of more than a dozen rallies.
The study considered the trajectory of coronavirus cases in counties that hosted 18 of Trump’s rallies between June 20 and Sept. 22 and attempted to predict the difference in how the course of the virus changed after the event.
Trump has held more than two dozen rallies since recovering from his own bout with the virus this month – and he is expected to hold several more before Tuesday’s election. The rallies are held outdoors, usually at airports, and supporters usually are packed in tight. While some rally attendees wear masks, many do not, including Trump.
A recent USA TODAY analysis showed COVID-19 cases grew at a faster rate after at least five of Trump’s rallies since mid-August, including in counties in Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Nearly 6 in 10 Americans disapprove of Trump’s decision to continue to hold large rallies during the pandemic, a USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll found this week, while nearly 64% approve of Democrat Joe Biden’s decision to jettison those large events.
Trump aides have dismissed concerns raised by public health officials and Democrats, noting that the president’s supporters choose to attend.
– John Fritze
A California county has reported a case of COVID-19 and flu co-infection — at least the third reported instance of a person having both viruses in the U.S.
A Solano County resident under the age of 65 tested positive for both, the Solano County Department of Health and Social Services confirmed this week.
“With the likelihood of both COVID-19 and seasonal flu activity this winter, contracting either disease may weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to the other disease,” said Dr. Bela T. Matyas, Solano County’s health officer. “Getting a flu vaccine this year is more important than ever, and flu vaccines are the best way to protect yourself, your family, and the community from becoming seriously ill with the flu.”
There has been at least one other case of co-infection reported in California, and one in Texas.
– Grace Hauck
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will allow cruise ships to sail in U.S. waters starting Sunday. But even if they do, passengers won’t be waving goodbye from the deck. In fact, the agency hasn’t said when they’ll be allowed back on board.
That’s according to the public health agency’s new “Framework for Conditional Sailing Order.” Published Friday, it “introduces a phased approach for the safe and responsible resumption for passenger cruises,” the CDC said in a release provided by spokesperson Cate Shockey.
The first cruises to leave port will be simulation sailings designed to show that ships and crews are in compliance with CDC standards and able to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 onboard.
Subsequent phases will include mock voyages with volunteers such as employees or their family members, Shockey told USA TODAY. Those test voyages will be akin to the shakedown cruises that lines do with any new vessel prior to its official maiden voyage.
– Morgan Hines
In a Fox News interview Thursday, Donald Trump Jr. wrongly stated that the rate of COVID-19 deaths has declined to “almost nothing.”
Trump Jr. said during an episode of “The Ingraham Angle” that he “went through the CDC data” and incorrectly claimed the number of COVID-19 deaths has significantly declined.
Notably, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledges that its recent data is “provisional” and often behind data gathered by counties and other sources.
While COVID-19 deaths have been lower than during their peak in April, new cases continue to march to an all-time high. Wednesday set a record of new cases, with 88,521 nationwide, per Johns Hopkins’ dashboard.
In the past week, a USA TODAY analysis found that at least four states set a record number of deaths. Per Johns Hopkins, more than 20,000 people have died so far in October.
– Joshua Bote
A study published Thursday found that grocery store workers had a heightened risk of COVID-19 infection, with 1 in 5 workers surveyed testing positive and most having asymptotic cases.
Workers who were in roles that involved interacting with customers were five times as likely to test positive, the study, published in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine, found. Three in four who did test positive had no symptoms.
“This is definitely very alarming as it means that retail grocery store employees are exposed to customers and sort of serve as a middleman for the virus — like a superspreader almost,” researcher Dr. Justin Yang told CNN.
Europe’s outbreak: 10 million cases; Spain in state of emergency until May
European nations have accounted for more than 10 million cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic and broke a weekly record with more than 1.5 million confirmed last week, the World Health Organization’s Europe director said Thursday.
“Europe is at the epicenter of this pandemic once again,” WHO European regional director Dr. Hans Kluge said. “At the risk of sounding alarmist, I must express our very real concern.”
The Spanish parliament voted to keep a state of emergency intact until May 2021. France says its citizens will be confined to half a mile from their homes for the next month, unless they’re buying food or going to school or a few other exceptions. Pope Francis is halting his public general audiences and will limit participation at Christmas.