Coronavirus updates: Texas introduces new face mask requirement

Ovidiu Dugulan/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR and EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 517,000 people worldwide.

Over 10.7 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations’ outbreaks.

Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 2.6 million diagnosed cases and at least 128,385 deaths.

Here’s how the news is developing today. All times Eastern. Please refresh this page for updates:

6:30 p.m.: CDC forecasts 140K to 160K deaths by July 25

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have updated their forecast for deaths from COVID-19.

Forecasts indicate that between 140,000 and 160,000 total deaths nationally are expected by July 25. Previous forecasts had suggested between 124,000 and 140,000 deaths by July 4.

Currently, more than 128,000 people have died from the virus in the U.S.

Forecasts also suggest that the number of new deaths will increase in 11 states: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wyoming. For all other states, that number is expected to stay the same as in previous weeks, or slightly decrease.

4:50 p.m.: Texas introduces new face mask requirement

As coronavirus cases climb in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday issued an executive order requiring face masks in counties with 20 or more diagnosed cases.

“We have the ability to keep businesses open and move our economy forward so that Texans can continue to earn a paycheck, but it requires each of us to do our part to protect one another—and that means wearing a face covering in public spaces,” he said in a statement.

Texas hit a record 8,076 new cases on Wednesday.

Of those being tested in Houston, 20% are now positive, officials said Thursday.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is asking churches to return to virtual services and for offices to revert to no more than 25% occupancy.

4:20 p.m.: California governor encourages fireworks cancelations

As California coronavirus cases continue to rise, Gov. Gavin Newsom is encouraging the 19 counties with new mandatory closures to consider canceling Fourth of July fireworks.

On Wednesday, the governor said 19 counties, representing 70% of the state’s population, were required to close bars and indoor operations at businesses including restaurants and wineries.

“In counties not on the list, municipal fireworks displays may still happen, but to watch them, residents must find ways to watch them from their cars and apart from others,” Dr. Sonia Angell, California’s Department of Public health director and state public health officer, said Thursday.

California has reported new 4,056 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, Newsom said Thursday.

In the last two weeks, hospitalizations have jumped by 56%, he said.

3:50 p.m.: 2 test positive after attending massive party
Two people who went to a massive party in Upstate New York have now tested positive for COVID-19, county officials said.

Hundreds were at the June 20 party in Onondaga County, which includes Syracuse, even though gatherings were not supposed to exceed 25 people, the Onondaga County Health Department said.

“Health Department investigators are in the process of identifying all close contacts of the individuals and notifying them,” the health department said. “Those who attended the party may have been exposed and should monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 until Saturday, July 4.”

Meanwhile, in Rockland County, New York, an ill party host spread the virus to at least eight others.

County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel said Wednesday that some people contacted by health investigators were denying being at the party and refusing to speak to the investigators.

“Many do not answer their cellphones and do not call back,” she said. “‘Sometimes parents answer for their adult children and promise that they have been home consistently — when they have not been.”

Schnabel said she was “forced by these circumstances to send subpoenas to the individuals who are required to cooperate with us.”

County spokesman John Lyon told ABC News on Thursday that all eight people who were issued subpoenas have responded and are now complying with contact tracing.

3:25 p.m.: 11-year-old boy dies from COVID-19 in Florida

An 11-year-old boy has died from COVID-19 in Miami-Dade County, Florida, becoming the state’s youngest known death, state data showed, according to Miami ABC affiliate WPLG.

The number of diagnosed coronavirus cases in the state jumped by 9,558 in one day, according to the state’s Department of Health.

Of those tested in Florida, 14.5% are now positive — which is down 0.5% from Wednesday.

The state now has a total of 169,102 cases.

Miami-Dade County, which includes the city of Miami, set a record daily increase with 2,306 cases. Of those tested in the county, 19.5% are now positive, according to the state’s data

2:08 p.m.: Spike in last few days ‘well beyond the worst spikes that we’ve seen,’ Fauci says

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told BBC News Thursday that the U.S. didn’t lock down as thoroughly as other countries did.

“We’re seeing very disturbing spikes in different individual states,” Fauci said.

“What we’ve seen over the last several days is a spike in cases that are well beyond the worst spikes that we’ve seen,” he went on. “We’ve got to get that under control or we risk an even greater outbreak in the United States.”

While some countries in Europe “closed down to the tune of about 97% lockdown,” Fauci said, only about 50% of U.S. states implemented strict lockdowns.

“Now all you have to do is take a look at the news at night and you see people congregating at bars without masks, congregating in different types of groups that are well beyond the recommended number of people,” he said. “What happens when you do that and you don’t wear a mask? You get the kind of outbreaks we’re seeing.”

Fauci stressed that young people play an important role in stopping the spread.

Speaking directly to younger Americans, he said, “If you are infected, it is likely you will infect someone else who will infect someone else, who then might infect a vulnerable person. Then you get into very serious consequences.”

1:30 p.m.: Herman Cain, who attended Trump Tulsa rally, hospitalized for COVID-19

Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain is in an Atlanta-area hospital being treated for the coronavirus, a spokesperson said in a statement.

Cain, a Black Voices for Trump co-chair, attended President Donald Trump’s June 20 rally in Tulsa.

Cain posted a photo of a group at the rally without masks or social distancing.

Cain is awake, alert and not on a respirator, the statement said, adding, “There is no way of knowing for sure how or where Mr. Cain contracted the coronavirus.”

 

12:50 p.m.: Casinos reopen in Atlantic City

Casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey, reopened on Thursday after a 108-day closure.

11:37 a.m.: Nashville closes bars, cancels Fourth of July fireworks

Nashville is closing its bars for at least two weeks and is canceling the Fourth of July fireworks as coronavirus cases sharply rise, Mayor John Cooper said Thursday.

Davidson County, which includes Nashville, is reporting a record daily high of 608 new cases, Cooper said.

The mayor said phase 3 of reopening has not been effective and the city is reverting to its phase 2 plans, with some modifications. Entertainment venues will be closed and restaurants must reduce capacity to 50% from 75% capacity.

11 a.m.: Florida sees 9,558 new cases in 1 day

In Florida, the number of diagnosed coronavirus cases jumped by 9,558 in one day, now reaching a total of 169,102 cases, according to the state’s Department of Health.

The state’s positivity rate now stands at 14.5%, which is down 0.5% from Wednesday.

Miami-Dade County, which includes Miami, set a record daily increase with 2,306 cases. Of those tested in the county, 19.5% are now positive, according to the state’s data.

10:30 a.m.: NYC opening 22 streets for outdoor dining

New York City is doubling down on outdoor dining. Starting this weekend, 22 streets covering 2.6 miles will be dedicated to restaurants, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday.

New York City won’t allow indoor dining because of concerning data from states across the U.S., de Blasio said.

“It became deafening how bad the situation was in many many states and how much it was related back to bars and restaurants,” he said.

Of those tested in New York City, just 2% of residents are now testing positive for the coronavirus, de Blasio said Thursday.

The mayor is also addressing the plan for returning to school in the fall.

He said face coverings will be required and schools will implement social distancing, handwashing stations and deep cleaning.

9:30 a.m.: West Hollywood will charge you $300 for not wearing a mask

As the coronavirus infection rate increases in California, those not wearing masks in West Hollywood will be charged $300 — a $250 fine and $50 fee — for the first-offense, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

“Our last option was to conduct enforcement by issuing an Administrative Citation, but the risk to Community health is too great,” the department said Wednesday night.

In Los Angeles County, 1 in 140 people are estimated to be infected, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday.

Garcetti said the infection rate could be as high as 1 in 70 in the upcoming weeks.

7:29 a.m.: FDA chief details response plan amid rising cases

The head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said they are working to get more personal protective equipment and testing supplies to areas of the country where coronavirus infections are on the rise.

“We are seeing rising cases, particularly in the south and the west,” Dr. Stephen Hahn told ABC News in an interview Thursday on Good Morning America.

Hahn, who is also a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said one advantage the country has now that it didn’t earlier in the year is the newly-authorized experimental therapeutics, such as the antiviral medication remdesivir. There’s also convalescent plasma therapy, a century-old technique used for treating epidemics in which the blood plasma of patients who have recovered from a disease is transfused to those who are still infected.

Some 28,000 people infected with COVID-19 in the United States have been treated with convalescent plasma, according to Hahn, who urged those who have recovered from the virus to donate their plasma.

“We will eventually get beyond this pandemic,” he said. “We have a lot of therapeutics, we have vaccines in the pipeline.”

The FDA has granted authorization for four separate vaccine candidates to proceed with clinical trials. Two of those potential vaccines are expected to begin the late state of trials later this month, according to Hahn.

“We are on target to reach a vaccine by year’s end or early next year,” he added, “so I’m cautiously optimistic.”

Hahn advised people to continue washing hands frequently as well as practicing social distancing and, when that’s not possible, to wear a face mask.

“These are common sense things as we head into the Fourth of July weekend that we can do to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” he said.

6:51 a.m.: University of Oklahoma’s football team reports cluster of cases

At least 14 student-athletes and two staff members of the University of Oklahoma’s football team have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, officials said.

Seven of the school’s 111 football players tested Tuesday were positive for the virus, while the other seven players had tested positive earlier. Two players have since recovered, according to a statement from the University of Oklahoma Athletics Department.

The University of Oklahoma football team has returned to campus and its student-athletes began voluntary workouts Wednesday.

6:02 a.m.: Oregon sees highest single-day jump in cases

Oregon health officials announced Wednesday the highest single-day jump in coronavirus cases that the state has seen since the start of the pandemic.

The Oregon Health Authority said 281 new cases of COVID-19 were identified on Tuesday. About 75 percent of recent cases were patients under the age of 50.

However, since hospitalization is less common among younger patients infected with the virus, statewide hospital capacity is “sufficient for now,” the Oregon Health Authority said in a statement Wednesday.

5:29 a.m.: US testing supply chain is under strain, FEMA memo says

The coronavirus testing supply chain in the United States is under strain with demand for tests outpacing supply, according to an internal daily memo from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Meanwhile, intensive care units in Utah are at 65% capacity and hospitals around the state could reach capacity within two weeks. Utah reported 3,754 new cases of COVID-19 last week, a 13.8% increase from the previous week. Planning is underway to increase ICU capacity and to prepare for patient transfers during a surge, according to the memo obtained by ABC News.

In Hawaii, a bus driver who tested positive for COVID-19 in Honolulu on June 28 continued working for five days while feeling sick. Health officials there are working to trace anyone who came in contact with the driver during that time, the memo said.

4:36 a.m.: 4-month-old baby hospitalized for coronavirus in Alabama, officials say

A four-month-old baby who is infected with the novel coronavirus has been hospitalized in Huntsville, Alabama, according to local ABC affiliate WAAY-TV.

Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children CEO David Spillers told WAAY the infant is their youngest COVID-19 patient.

“I think that probably the news today is we now have five children that are COVID positive that are in the hospital, so if you think this doesn’t affect young people it actually affects young people,” Spillers said during a press conference Wednesday. “Some of those children are only months old. So it’s the first time we’ve seen that during the pandemic.”

Spillers said he’s concerned about how the children contracted the virus. One of the young patients is a 4-year-old who has been receiving cancer treatment and is now positive for COVID-19.

“I feel very confident the outcomes will be good for those children,” he said. “We haven’t seen that before, and I think it’s just a direct result of more COVID in the community and people engaging around children and infecting them.”

For those who are against wearing face masks, Spillers had this message: “I challenge people who resist wearing face coverings to think about this the next time you resist wearing face coverings. Anybody can have COVID. Anyone can give COVID to anyone else because in many cases you could be asymptomatic. If the thought of you accidentally giving COVID to someone, particularly a child with cancer, is not enough reason to put on a face cover, then I don’t know what is.”

A growing number of Alabama cities are making face masks mandatory, but Huntsville isn’t one of them. Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle told WAAY he thinks that mandate will come at some point in the future.

3:32 a.m.: US reports record-high number of new cases in a day

More than 50,000 new cases of COVID-19 were identified in the United States on Wednesday, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

It’s the first time the United States has reached or crossed the 50,000 threshold of new diagnosed cases in a single day.

Wednesday’s caseload shattered the country’s previous record set on June 26, when more than 45,000 new cases were identified.

The national total currently stands at 2,686,582 diagnosed cases with at least 128,062 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.

By May 20, all states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up to over 30,000 and then crossing 40,000 last week.

Nearly half of all 50 states have seen a rise in infections in recent weeks, with some — including Arizona, California and Florida — reporting daily records.

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