The latest on the coronavirus pandemic from around the U.S. and the world.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Millions more children in the U.S. learned Friday that they’re unlikely to return to classrooms full time in the fall because of the coronavirus pandemic as death tolls reached new highs.

It came as many states — particularly in the Sunbelt — struggled to cope with the surge and governments worldwide tried to control fresh outbreaks. In a sign of how the virus is galloping around the globe, the World Health Organization reported nearly a quarter-million new infections in a single day.

In the U.S., teams of military medics were deployed in Texas and California to help hospitals deluged by coronavirus patients. The two most populous states each reported roughly 10,000 new cases and some of their highest death counts since the pandemic began. Big numbers in Florida, Arizona and other states also are helping drive the U.S. resurgence that’s forcing states to rethink the school year.


Vincent Velarde, 11, left, and his brother, Emilio, 12, jump into an inflatable pool in Los Angeles on Friday. California Gov. Gavin Newsom laid out strict criteria Friday for school reopenings that make it unlikely the vast majority of districts will have classroom instruction in the fall as the coronavirus pandemic surges. Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

California Gov. Gavin Newsom laid out strict criteria for school reopenings that make classroom instruction unlikely for most districts. The Democrat’s rules mandate that students above second grade and all staff wear masks.

Texas gave public schools permission to stay closed for more than 5 million students well into the fall. Under the guidelines, schools can hold online-only instruction for up to the first eight weeks, potentially pushing a return to campus in some cities until November.

Most Chicago children would return to the classroom just two days a week and spend the other three days learning remotely under a tentative plan outlined by officials from the nation’s third-largest school district. A final decision for fall classes for the district’s more than 300,000 students won’t come until late August.

Read the full story here.

Texas reports most COVID-19 deaths in a single day

AUSTIN, Texas — The deadliest month of the pandemic in Texas continues, with state officials reporting 174 new deaths, the most in one day since the coronavirus outbreak began.


Amid concerns of the spread of COVID-19, teachers check students before a summer STEM camp at Wylie High School in Wylie, Texas, on Tuesday. LM Otero/Associated Press

Texas also reported more than 10,000 confirmed new cases Friday for the fourth consecutive day.

The rate of positive cases also climbed above 17 percent for the first time.

Officials on the Texas-Mexico border, which has been especially hard hit, say hotels could be converted into medical units as early as next week.

The grim markers were announced hours after Texas gave public schools permission to keep campuses closed for more than 5 million students well into the fall.

Nearly a third of the more than 3,700 coronavirus deaths in Texas have come in July.

Because if virus spread, Australian PM acts to cancel next sitting of parliament

CANBERRA, Australia — Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is moving to cancel the next two-week sitting of parliament because of the recent spread of the coronavirus in parts of the country.

Parliament has been scheduled to meet Aug. 4-13 and then sit again for a two-week session starting Aug. 24.

Morrison said Saturday that he has written to the parliamentary speaker asking for a cancellation, but the request is considered only a formality.

In a statement, the prime minister said acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly has advised that there would be “significant risks” in holding a meeting of parliament due to increased community transmission of the coronavirus in Victoria state as well as trends in New South Wales.

Stress rises for unemployed as extra $600 benefit nears end

WASHINGTON — A major source of income for roughly 30 million unemployed people is set to end, threatening their ability to meet rent and pay bills and potentially undercutting the fragile economic recovery.


Henry Montalvo, 30, of Phoenix was furloughed in March and his federal unemployment benefit expires later this month. Matt York/Associated Press

In March, Congress approved an extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits as part of its $2 trillion relief package aimed at offsetting the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. That additional payment expires next week unless it gets renewed.

For Henry Montalvo, who was furloughed from his job as a banquet server and bartender in Phoenix in mid-March, the expiration of the $600 will cut his unemployment benefits by two-thirds. He uses the money to help support his three children and pregnant girlfriend.

“Now that it’s about to end, that grim and uneasy feeling is coming back and really fast,” Montalvo said.

The unemployment insurance program has emerged as a crucial source of support at a time when the jobless rate is at Depression-era levels. In May, unemployment benefits made up 6 percent of all U.S. income, ahead of even Social Security, and up dramatically from February, when it amounted to just 0.1 percent of national income.

“The increase has likely done as much or more to limit widespread hardship like food insecurity, homelessness, utility cutoffs, and mental health challenges, as any provision Congress has enacted in response to the pandemic and recession,” said Indivar Dutta-Gupta, co-executive director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty & Inequality.

Congress enacted the extra payment for just four months, largely on the assumption that the viral outbreak would subside by late July and the economy would be well on the way to recovery. But confirmed case counts are rising in 40 states and 22 states are either reversing or pausing their reopening efforts, threatening to slow rehiring. The number of people seeking weekly jobless aid has leveled off at roughly 1.3 million, after falling steadily in May and early June.

Eliminating the extra payment would cut benefits for most recipients by 50 percent to 75 percent, depending on the size of each state’s unemployment benefit, which varies based on a worker’s prior income. Arizona’s maximum payment of $240 is near the low end, while Massachusetts is among the most generous, with a weekly maximum payment of more than $800.

Read the full story about unemployment benefits here.

Military medics deploy in California, Texas as virus surges 

MIAMI — Teams of military medics were deployed in Texas and California to help hospitals deluged by coronavirus patients, as Miami area authorities began stepping up enforcement Friday of a mask requirement — echoing efforts in many parts of the world to contain surging infections.

In California, military doctors, nurses and other health care specialists were being deployed to eight hospitals facing staffing shortages amid a record-breaking case numbers. In Houston, an 86-person Army medical team worked to take over a wing of United Memorial Medical Center.

Texas reported 10,000 new cases for the third straight day Thursday and 129 additional deaths. California, meanwhile, reported its largest two-day total of confirmed cases, nearly 20,000, along with 258 deaths over 48 hours. There are more than 8,000 people in hospitals who have either tested positive for the coronavirus or are suspected to have it.

There were signs elsewhere in country’s Sunbelt that the virus was stretching authorities’ capacity to respond. The medical examiner’s office in metro Phoenix has gotten portable storage coolers and ordered more to handle an influx of bodies — reminiscent of New York City at the height of the pandemic there earlier this year.

Katy Bessler, Gadiel Alvarado

Army Maj. Katie Bessler, right, and Infectious Disease Physician Maj. Gadiel Alvarado, enter a hospital in Houston on Thursday. Soldiers will treat COVID-19 patients in the newly prepared hospital wing as Texas receives help from across the country to deal with its coronavirus surge. Associated Press/David J. Phillip

In Florida’s Miami-Dade County, the county commission unanimously approved an emergency order giving all code and fire inspectors authority to issue tickets of up to $100 for individuals and $500 for businesses not complying with guidelines to wear masks and practice social distancing. Police officers already had this enforcement power.

“We’re going to put a heck of a lot of people out there,” said Mayor Carlos Gimenez. “Our people are going to go everywhere.”

Gimenez said that too few people, especially younger people, have been following the “new normal” guidelines, so the county needed another enforcement tool.

In Miami-Dade, which is Florida’s most populous county and the current epicenter of the outbreak, more than 3,100 new coronavirus cases were reported on Thursday. The state, meanwhile, reached another ominous record, with 156 virus deaths, and a staggering 13,965 new cases.

Amid the upsurge, a Florida state legislator, Republican Rep. Anthony Sabatini, filed a lawsuit Friday against a mask ordinance in Pinellas County, home to St. Petersburg and Clearwater. About 100 people in support of his stance rallied in front of the county courthouse, some holding signs saying mask requirements are unconstitutional.

At least half of the 50 states have adopted requirements for wearing masks or other facial coverings.

Queen Elizabeth emerges from royal bubble to knight a pandemic folk hero

LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II popped out of her royal bubble on Friday to knight Tom Moore in a private ceremony on the outdoor grounds of Windsor Castle.

Moore, a 100-year-old World War II veteran widely known as “Captain Tom,” won the heart of a nation after he raised more than $40 million for National Health Service charities by walking laps across his garden with the aid of his trusty walker.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who nominated Moore for a knighthood, called him “a national treasure.”

Captain Sir Thomas Moore receives his knighthood from Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle on Friday. Captain Sir Tom raised almost £33 million for health service charities by walking laps of his Bedfordshire garden. (AP) Chris Jackson via Associated Press

“Ready and raring to go for what is a very special day,” Moore wrote before the ceremony on his Twitter account, which featured a photo of him in a blue blazer bedecked with medals.

There was nothing quite normal about this ceremony, known as an accolade, as it occurred in the middle of a pandemic that has left Britain with the highest death toll in Europe.

Before his arrival at Windsor, Moore tweeted on Friday: “It is such a huge honour and I am very much looking forward to meeting Her Majesty The Queen. It is going to be the most special of days for me.”

But it was not a typical knighthood ceremony. Although the queen wielded a sword that once belonged to her father, George VI, the proceedings were staged outdoors, in the castle’s quadrangle, to lower risks of infection.

Read the full story.

Trump faces rising disapproval and widespread distrust on coronavirus, poll finds

Americans’ views of President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic have deteriorated significantly as cases rise across the country and personal fears of becoming infected persist, a Washington Post-ABC News poll finds.

The Post-ABC poll shows 38 percent of Americans approve of his handling of the outbreak, down from 46 percent in May and 51 percent in March. Sixty percent disapprove, up from 53 percent in May and 45 percent in March.

More than half of the public — 52 percent — now disapproves “strongly” of Trump’s handling of the outbreak, roughly double the percentage who say they strongly approve of his efforts and an increase from 36 percent in strong disapproval since March.

Trump has sent mixed messages throughout the pandemic and has often been at odds with scientists and health officials in his administration. He now faces clear credibility problems with the public. More than 6 in 10 say they do not trust what he says about the outbreak, including 2 in 3 political independents and nearly 3 in 10 Republicans.

President Donald Trump wore a mask publicly for the first time on July 11. Associated Press/Patrick Semansky

Trump’s disconnect with the public is clear on questions about reopening the economy and the wearing of masks. While Trump has called on states to lift business restrictions in an effort to boost the economy, Americans say that controlling the spread of the virus is a higher priority.

A 63 percent majority say it is more important to try to control the spread of the virus even if it hurts the economy, up from 57 percent in May. The share who “strongly” favor controlling the virus’s spread over restarting the economy has grown from 41 percent in May to 52 percent in the latest survey.

On the subject of masks, nearly 8 in 10 Americans say they are wearing one most or all of the time when they come close to others in public. Trump wore a mask for the first time in public last week after months in which he showed reluctance to follow the recommendations of public health officials. Even after that display at a military hospital, however, he publicly contended the use of masks should not be mandatory.

The Post-ABC poll was conducted July 12-15 among a random national sample of 1,006 adults, with 75 percent of interviews conducted by cellphone and the rest on landline. The margin of sampling error for overall results is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

With morgues nearing capacity, officials in Texas and Arizona are ordering portable storage coolers

Overwhelmed morgues in Texas and Arizona are ordering refrigerated trailers to handle an influx of bodies, officials said, as hospitals with few beds left transfer patients to medical facilities in neighboring New Mexico.

A body wrapped in plastic is loaded onto a refrigerated container truck used as a temporary morgue in New York City in March. Associated Press/John Minchillo

The grim measures, which evoke some of the actions taken by New York City during the peak of the pandemic there, underscore how the changing geography of outbreaks is pushing medical and funeral systems to the brink.

According to data tracked by The Washington Post, Texas and Arizona are among the five states leading the country for new infections and fatalities over the past week. The states have collectively reported nearly 1,100 deaths since last Friday.

In Bexar County, Tex., which includes San Antonio, authorities have prepared two portable storage coolers and expect to have three more ready by the end of this week, KSAT reported.

“This is a morbid topic, and it’s not one we enjoy talking about, but it really does underscore the severity of COVID-19 in our community,” Mario Martinez, assistant director of the local health department, told the TV station.

Ivan Melendez, who leads the public health efforts in Hidalgo County on the Mexican border, said the body of a patient may lie on a stretcher for up to 10 hours before it can be removed from an overcrowded intensive care unit.

“Before someone gets a bed in the COVID ICU unit, someone has to die there,” Melendez told the Associated Press.

In Arizona, hospitals are so pressed for space that dozens of patients have been transferred to New Mexico, the Albuquerque Journal reported, under a federal law requiring hospitals to accept patients from neighboring states.

Worries are also rampant in Arizona that morgues will run out of room. Many funeral homes are at capacity and cannot accept more bodies, officials said, and the medical examiner’s office has ordered more portable storage coolers.

British PM moves to ease virus restrictions

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced the next tentative steps to reopen society, allowing live indoor performances, the reopening of leisure centers and bowling alleys starting on Aug. 1.

Johnson announced a raft of measures aimed at easing COVID-19 restrictions on Friday, including trials on larger gatherings in places like sports stadiums as the country emerges from a lockdown imposed on March 23.

Johnson is trying to walk a tightrope, persuading Britons that the country is ready for new outbreaks while also encouraging a return to shops, restaurants and workplaces to kick-start a moribund economy that has shrunk by a quarter since March.

He also offered employers “more discretion’’ in bringing their employees back to work.

Residents of Barcelona asked to stay at home as much as possible

BARCELONA, Spain — Health authorities are asking Barcelona’s 5.5 million residents to keep their socialization to a minimum and to stay at home as much as possible.

The measures announced Friday mix mandatory orders like banning social gatherings of more than 10 people and closing nightclubs and gyms, as well as a public call for voluntary compliance with restrictions on mobility, including refraining from traveling to second homes outside of the regional capital.

Nearly 1,300 more people were confirmed or suspected of carrying the virus in Catalonia on Thursday, the highest daily increase in weeks.

The regional government’s spokeswoman, Meritxell Budó, has said that stricter measures such as a full lockdown would only be avoided by reducing social activity and venturing out for essential activities such as work.

Mandatory use of masks, even when outdoors, is rapidly spreading across Spain as officials grapple with more than 150 active outbreaks.

Masks required in 2 French regions

PARIS — French authorities are imposing mask requirements and testing in two western regions where virus infections are picking up, amid fears that summer holidays will bring a new wave of illness.

Masks will be required in all indoor public places in France starting next week, but the Finistere region of Brittany and Mayenne region near the Loire Valley are doing so already in select cities and towns, outdoor markets and islands that attract summer tourists.

In Mayenne, several clusters have appeared over the past several days.

The virus reproduction rate in Finistere climbed from below 1 in recent weeks to 2.5, meaning one person with the virus infects 2.5 others. But the regional health agency noted Thursday that rising case numbers are also linked to a 50% increase in testing in the area over the last week, and noted that there are only three people in intensive care with the virus in the region.

France has reported 30,138 deaths related to the virus.

UN appeals for humanitarian aid

BERLIN — The United Nations is increasing to $10.3 billion its appeal for humanitarian aid funding to handle the fallout from the coronavirus crisis around the world.

Jens Laerke, a spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said in Geneva on Friday that “the number of people in the world who need humanitarian assistance has more than doubled because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects of the global lockdown of economies and societies.”

At the beginning of the year, humanitarian agencies targeted around 110 million people, he said. They now need to reach 250 million in 63 countries.

Laerke said the U.N. initially asked for $2 billlion in late March for the immediate response. That was increased to $6.7 billion in May.

He said the appeal does cover basic health services but the bulk of it is related to non-health needs, such as food, water, sanitation and shelter. He added that “we are seeing a huge increase in the number of starving people, which could reach some 270 million by the end of the year.”

So far, the U.N. has received $1.7 billion.

Nelson Mandela’s daughter tested positive for the virus before her death

JOHANNESBURG — South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is praising the family of the daughter of anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela for disclosing that Zindzi Mandela had tested positive for the coronavirus before she died Monday.

“This is a virus that affects us all, and there should never be any stigma around people who become infected,” the president said in a statement. In disclosing her status “you are helping encourage social acceptance for sufferers.”

South Africa how has the world’s sixth largest confirmed virus caseload with nearly 325,000 infections. Mandela, a South African diplomat, was buried Friday. Her family has said they were still awaiting her autopsy for the official cause of death.

U.S. diplomats among new coronavirus cases in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Two U.S. diplomats are among five new cases of coronavirus in Cambodia announced Friday by health officials.

All five cases involve people who had traveled from the United States. Three are Cambodians who arrived Wednesday via Taiwan, said a Health Ministry statement.

The statement described the two Americans as senior diplomats who had flown from the U.S. via South Korea and also arrived Wednesday.

It said the two are being isolated at the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh. An embassy spokesman declined to provide immediate comment or details.

Cambodia banned virtually all new arrivals in March but last month eased the rules, allowing the repatriation of more Cambodians and the tightly restricted entry of foreigners.

Cambodia has had 171 confirmed coronavirus cases with no deaths.

Leader of church connected to coronavirus outbreak questioned in South Korea

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korean prosecutors have questioned the leader of a secretive church sect over accusations that they hampered the government’s anti-virus response after thousands of COVID-19 infections were detected among its members in February and March.

Lee Man-hee, the 88-year-old chairman of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, was questioned for about four hours Friday at a district prosecutors’ office in Suwon, south of capital Seoul, before being sent home after he complained about unspecified health problems, prosecution and church officials said.

Lee and other Shincheonji leaders have faced suspicions of hiding some of the church’s membership and under-reporting its worship activities to health authorities to avoid broader quarantines. Prosecutors last week arrested three senior members of the church over the allegations. Lee and Shincheonji have steadfastly denied the accusation, saying that the church has been properly cooperating with health authorities.

More than 5,200 of South Korea’s 13,672 COVID-19 cases have been linked to the church so far.

Israel reimposes restrictions

JERUSALEM — Israel has reimposed sweeping restrictions in response to a new surge in coronavirus cases, including weekend closures of many businesses and the limiting of all restaurants to takeout and delivery.

The government announced the restrictions early Friday after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “interim steps” were needed to avoid another general lockdown.

All gyms and exercise studios will be closed except for use by competitive athletes. Restaurants will no longer be allowed to have on-site seating and beaches will be closed on weekends beginning later this month.

Stores, malls, barber shops, beauty salons and tourist sites will also be closed on weekends. Public gatherings will be limited to 10 people indoors or 20 outside.

By late May, Israel had largely contained its outbreak following a two-month lockdown. But cases have soared in the weeks since restrictions were lifted, with Israel reporting around 1,900 new cases on Thursday alone. At least 384 people have died since the outbreak began.

Cases in Tokyo continue to rise

TOKYO — Japan’s capital has recorded a single-day record number of new coronavirus cases for a second straight day.

Tokyo confirmed 293 new cases Friday.

“We have asked people and businesses to raise their alert levels,” Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike told reporters, urging social distancing, regularly disinfecting of hands and other measures to curb the outbreak.

Virus cases in Tokyo were confirmed at 286 Thursday, setting off worries the economy had reopened too quickly. Tokyo was taken off the area eligible for discounts, set to start next week, under the government “Go To Campaign” to encourage travel and tourism within Japan.

Japan has never had a total lockdown but asked businesses to close and people to work from home in an “emergency,” starting in April. That has been gradually lifting.

Japan has so far avoided the massive cases of the hardest hit nations, at fewer than 24,000 confirmed cases and about 1,000 deaths.

Melbourne continues to be Australia’s hotspot

MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s Victoria state has reported a daily record of 428 new COVID-19 cases as authorities move to increase testing in the state to monitor for any spread of the coronavirus from the Melbourne area.

Most of the new cases and three deaths reported Friday were in Melbourne.

Melbourne and neighboring semi-rural Mitchell Shire have been locked down since last week and authorities hope the restrictions will soon bring a plateauing of infections.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews says only five of the new cases are in parts of the state not in lockdown. He says the government is increasing the number of testing sites outside Melbourne.

The state health minister adds that all but 42 coronavirus infections detected in Victoria this month were in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire.

Sout Korean authorities believe outbreak is stabilizing

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korean health officials are expressing optimism that the country’s COVID-19 outbreak is coming under control despite a spike in infections tied to international arrivals.

Senior Health Ministry official Yoon Tae-ho said at a briefing Friday that the spread of the coronavirus is clearly stabilizing in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area and other major cities, where transmissions had surged since late May.

South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 60 newly confirmed cases, including 39 linked to people arriving from abroad.

Yoon says imported cases are less threatening than local transmissions because South Korea is enforcing two-week quarantines on all people arriving from abroad and having them tested within three days.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: