Coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose to another single-day high as the nation entered a Fourth of July weekend marked by restrictions on many activities and warnings to maintain social-distancing practices.
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The U.S. reported more than 52,000 new cases on Thursday, about 1,000 more than the previous day, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The country’s death toll topped 128,700. The U.S. is the worst-hit nation globally and accounts for about a quarter of the more than 10.8 million coronavirus cases world-wide, according to Johns Hopkins.
As new cases rise in Washington state, Gov. Jay Inslee said he would pause a phased reopening for all counties for two weeks. He also announced a statewide directive for businesses to require face coverings of all employees and customers.
“The better we can protect ourselves from the virus, the better we can avoid repeating some of the painful measures we had to take in the spring to shut down the economy,” Mr. Inslee said.
Government leaders across the country have urged people to use caution in their Fourth of July celebrations.
“This virus is just as contagious and deadly on a holiday as it is any other day,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said. “We have to remember that a large gathering, especially without masks and social distancing, is one of the most likely places for Covid-19 to spread.”
Los Angeles County and San Francisco have canceled fireworks shows, citing health concerns. In some other places, festivities have gone virtual. Philadelphia is hosting seven days of Fourth of July events online, culminating Saturday in a streamed concert and videos depicting historical re-enactments. In New York, the annual Macy’s Inc. fireworks show is taking place as five-minute displays throughout the week in unannounced locations to prevent viewers from congregating.
Beaches in Miami and other South Florida counties will be closed this weekend, several weeks after reopening. Beach closures have also hit parts of Southern California, including those in Los Angeles and Ventura counties and parts of Orange County.
Meanwhile, more local governments are asking people who have traveled to states with surges in coronavirus cases to quarantine for 14 days upon return.
Chicago issued an emergency travel order requiring all visitors from 15 states to quarantine starting on Monday. Pennsylvania state officials issued a similar travel advisory.
Coronavirus cases are also surging in Latin America.
Brazil, the second worst-hit country after the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins, reported 48,105 new cases and a further 1,252 deaths, bringing its total death toll to 61,884.
Mexico, which does the least amount of testing of any major country, posted its largest daily increase with 6,741 new cases. Mexican government officials say because testing is limited, a more accurate reflection of new cases would require multiplying by roughly eight.
In India, new cases rose by 20,903, a single-day record, raising the total tally of infections to 625,544, according to data from the Health Ministry. India has so far reported a total of 18,213 deaths. As cases continue to rise, the government has extended lockdowns in areas with high caseloads through July.
On Friday, South Korea reported 63 new cases as infections linked to clusters outside the Seoul metropolitan area increased. About 50 cases have been linked to a Buddhist temple in Gwangju, a city about 200 miles from Seoul. Daegu, the city once at the center of South Korea’s outbreak, added 13 new cases, hitting double digits for the first time in almost three months.
“We have not seen a mass spread of infections, but we are approaching a dangerous degree of risk,” South Korea’s vice health minister, Kim Gang-lip, said.
In Japan, the capital city of Tokyo has seen a resurgence of cases in recent days. On Friday, city officials confirmed 124 new cases, hitting triple digits for the second straight day in about two months. Many of the cases involve people in their 20s or 30s and are linked to nighttime entertainment areas where aggressive testing has been conducted recently, contributing to the rise in positive tests, according to the Tokyo government.
While hospitalizations in Japan have been increasing, the number of patients in serious condition has been falling. Japan is “not on the verge of issuing a state of emergency again,” said government spokesman Yoshihide Suga.