Heading into the holiday weekend, at least 16 states — Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin — are seeing the average of new cases over seven days hit record highs.
Florida leads the nation with 9,488 new reported cases Friday — the 26th consecutive day it has set a record in its seven-day average. Meanwhile, scientists warn of a new coronavirus mutation, which doesn’t appear to make people sicker, but there’s concern it has made the virus more contagious.
Here are some other significant developments:
- Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams speaking Friday on the “Today” show said everyone should wear a mask when going out in public, but stopped short of discouraging large gatherings — which would undercut Trump’s desire to see large crowds at his scheduled holiday events.
- The weekend’s weather is expected to push most states into the 90-degree range and threatens to further strain hospital capacity. High temperatures are forecast to be especially intense in the central and southern United States, which is struggling with the worst of the outbreak.
- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) reversed his stance on a mask requirement and on Thursday issued a statewide mandate requiring Texans to wear masks in public in any county with 20 or more novel coronavirus cases; those who don’t comply could face fines up to $250.
- Ahead of baseball and basketball returning this month, several players were reported Friday to have become infected with the coronavirus. Major League Baseball announced 38 players and staff members tested positive on 19 teams, even as the 60-game schedule is set to open on July 23 or 24.
Adams suggested Friday that mandates, such as requiring attendees to Trump’s planned holiday events to wear a mask, would only make people rebel. It was more beneficial, Adams said, to help people understand why they should wear a mask rather than simply ordering them to do so.
“As we talk about Fourth of July and independence, it’s important to understand that if we wear these, we’ll actually have more independence and more freedom because more places will be able to stay open,” Adams said.
The Mount Rushmore event, which is expected to have 7,500 attendees, was not staged to ensure social distancing as folding chairs were zip-tied together for fire safety reasons, CNN reported ahead of Trump’s arrival.
More than a dozen governors and mayors since Thursday have tweeted reminders to take precautions and encouraged mask-wearing and social distancing. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) reminded residents that cases surged following Memorial Day.
Protect your health and your community by keeping your 4th of July celebrations small, local, and with face coverings. We saw a lot of new COVID-19 cases after Memorial Day weekend. Another spike from the 4th could mean our hospitals become overwhelmed by new cases within weeks. pic.twitter.com/RqmfjLWuWK
— Governor Kate Brown (@OregonGovBrown) July 2, 2020
Ahead of a three-day holiday weekend, Chicago and Pennsylvania announced new travel quarantine measures for arrivals from coronavirus hot spot states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah. The order goes into effect July 6.
In Louisiana, 98 percent of the 1,756 new cases reported Friday were from community spread, “rather than congregate settings like nursing homes,” the state’s health department announced. A majority of those who tested positive were younger, with 60 percent under the age of 39.
Other states have similarly reported a rise in infection among younger people. In Florida, officials including Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) blamed those who were flouting social distancing without fear of catching the virus.
“They’re going to do what they’re going to do,” DeSantis said Sunday.
The state reported its youngest coronavirus fatality Thursday, an 11-year-old. The boy, Daequan Wimberly, had preexisting conditions, his family told the Miami Herald.