CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus Live Updates: Florida, Arizona, Texas Opened 'Too Aggressively,' Public Health Expert Says

Stay up to date as we cover the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its effects across the world.

Since Chinese officials locked down the city of Wuhan in January, there have been more than 12.9 million cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, across the planet.

More than 569,000 people have died from the disease, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Efforts to curb the outbreak have led to the global disruption of daily life and the economy, as schools and workplaces shuttered in hopes of slowing transmission. After months of precautions and lockdowns, governments have begun to reopen their economies.

HuffPost reporters around the world are tracking the pandemic and its effects.

Read the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic below. (To see the latest updates, you may need to refresh the page. All times are Eastern. For earlier updates on the pandemic, go here.)

Florida, Arizona, Texas ‘Opened Too Early’ And ‘Too Aggressively,’ Public Health Expert Says — 7/13/20, 8:52 a.m. ET

Florida and other states that have reached a new peak in COVID-19 cases reopened businesses “too early” and “too aggressively,” the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute said Monday.

“We know how we got here. Florida, along with other states, opened too early when they weren’t quite ready,” Dr. Ashish Jha said on NBC’s “Today” show, citing bars and restaurants in particular, which have been the source of many new cases.

Jha added that governors and other leaders have been “slow to react” to the new surge. For example, in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has still not mandated masks even though many other states and municipalities have done so, and public health experts widely believe wearing a mask can help limit the spread of the coronavirus.

On Sunday, Florida set a new single-day record for the highest number of new cases, reporting more than 15,000. That exceeded the previous record set in April in New York, once the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S. but now one of the few states that have largely contained the virus.

Earlier this year, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) earned praise for acting early to shut down the state. But in the last month, the number of cases has gone up again, and Jha said some parts of Southern California now look a lot like Arizona, Texas and Florida.

When asked why, he said state leaders “pulled back too early” and “were too slow to react” when cases began to increase again. He also said it was ill-advised to leave reopening decisions up to local governments. 

—Marina Fang

Sydney Pub Cluster Adds To Second Wave Fears In Australia — 7/13/20, 7:55 a.m.

Australia’s most populous state reported 14 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, with a growing cluster at a pub used by freight drivers traveling the country adding to fears of a second wave of the virus.

The new cases in New South Wales come after neighboring Victoria last week forced about 5 million people back into lockdown after a surge of new coronavirus cases.

Australia has avoided the high COVID-19 casualty numbers of other nations with swift and strict measures, recording fewer than 10,000 coronavirus cases in total, or about a sixth of the daily cases seen in the U.S. in recent days.

However, authorities are worried about rising cases of community transmission. This accounted for eight of the 14 new cases in New South Wales in the last 24 hours, while the rest were people who have returned from overseas and are already in hotel quarantine or have returned from Victoria.

The bulk of these community transmission cases were people who recently visited a pub in southwest Sydney, the Crossroads Hotel, with authorities confirming Monday afternoon that there are 21 cases linked to that cluster. In a bid to curtail the spread, authorities urged anyone who attended the pub to isolate for two weeks and get tested. On Monday, long lines of cars were waiting more than three hours to attend a drive-through test clinic at the venue.

In Victoria, authorities on Monday reported 177 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, the eighth consecutive day of triple-digit rises in COVID-19 cases, but down from 273 cases the previous day. 

Read more.

— Reuters

200 Workers Quarantined On UK Farm Amid Coronavirus Outbreak  — 7/13/20, 7:45 a.m.

Seventy-three key workers at a farm in the U.K. have tested positive for COVID-19 with dozens more now forced to self-isolate. Around 200 workers are employed for picking and packing work at the farm in Mathon, Herefordshire, in the west of England. Herefordshire Council is arranging food and essential supplies for residents on the site – who live in mobile homes based on the farm during the harvesting season – while they self-isolate.

In a statement farm owners AS Green and Co said: “Our work force and local community are our priority at this difficult time and we continue to follow the guidance of the relevant bodies to ensure that the spread of the virus is controlled and our workforce is supported.

“Public Health England advises that it is very unlikely COVID-19 can be transmitted through food or food packaging, so shoppers can remain confident buying British fruit and veg.”

The U.K. has recorded 44,819 deaths and 321,057 cases. Read more

— Sarah Turnnidge

Florida Sets U.S. Record For New Daily Coronavirus Cases — 7/12/20, 1:10 p.m. ET

Florida on Sunday reported more than 15,000 new cases of the coronavirus, setting a new national record for single-day tallies.

The total of 15,299 new cases, reported by Florida’s health department, is 2,452 cases higher than the daily record set by New York state in April, when it was the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak.

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has ordered bars to close in response to the outbreak, but has resisted calls for a statewide mandate to wear masks in public.

Single-day records were also reported in some of Florida’s largest cities on Sunday, including Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Fort Myers, West Palm Beach, Pensacola and Sarasota.

Read more here

— Nina Golgowski

Louisiana Governor Shutters Bars And Orders State To Mask Up — 7/11/20, 5:18 p.m. ET

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) announced a new mask mandate Saturday as the state’s coronavirus crisis rapidly worsened. People aged 8 and up will be required to don a face covering in public, beginning at 12:01 a.m. Monday. 

“At the end of the day, while I know that this is going to be unpopular with some and controversial with some, we know that face masks work. It really is that simple,” Edwards said in a news conference. “For some reason in this country and in the state of Louisiana, there has been a political dynamic that has emerged around the whole issue of masks. That doesn’t make any sense to me.” 

Bars, which were permitted to reopen last month under the state’s phase two guidelines, will be ordered to close again.

Cases of COVID-19 have spiked in the last month across Louisiana, where the virus once appeared to be concentrated in the New Orleans area. The state has seen nearly 77,000 confirmed cases since the crisis began and in recent days has been adding new cases at a pace of roughly 2,000 per day. Much of the surge can be attributed to people who gather in bars and backyards, according to Edwards.

Edwards halted any further plans to reopen parts of the economy, saying Louisiana will remain in phase two at least until July 24. Certain parishes and municipalities will be able to opt out of the mask mandate, but only if they do not exceed a threshold of cases.

The Southern state’s actions followed a recent trend of backtracking on reopening across parts of the U.S. amid skyrocketing case counts. Local news outlets have reported that intensive care unit beds have become a scarce commodity in some of the state’s hospitals — meaning that some of the sickest patients could face difficulty obtaining treatment.

— Sara Boboltz

For more on the pandemic, go here.

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