As the U.S. hits a new record for daily coronavirus cases, the governors of Texas and Florida hit pause on their reopening plans, with both states effectively closing bars to limit the spread of coronavirus.
Coronavirus cases are trending upward in about half of U.S. states, and several have reported record-breaking daily new case counts this week, according to Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. reported 39,972 daily cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, a new daily record, according to Johns Hopkins.
But the actual number of infections is likely 10 times the number of reported cases, said Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on Thursday. That means officials estimate that 20 million Americans, or 6% of the nation’s 331 million people, have actually been infected, meaning the vast majority of the population remains susceptible.
Here are the most significant developments of the day:
One day after pausing additional efforts to reopen Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday announced another round of restrictions, including closing bars and limiting restaurant occupancy. And in Florida, bars on Friday were prohibited from allowing alcohol consumption. The Coronavirus Task Force will have its first public meeting in almost two months at the Department of Health and Human Services. It will be led by task force head Vice President Mike Pence, the White House announced Thursday night. The Trump administration on Thursday urged the Supreme Court to overturn the Affordable Care Act, the same day the government reported that nearly half a million people lost their health insurance during the economic shutdown to slow the spread of COVID-19. If the court agrees with the administration, some 20 million Americans could lose their health coverage and protections for people with preexisting health conditions also would be put at risk. Breaking from earlier guidance, the CDC said Thursday that pregnant women may be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant women. Joe Biden said Thursday that if he becomes president, he “would do everything possible to make it required that people had to wear masks in public.” Last week, 1.48 million workers filed first time claims for unemployment insurance, the Labor Department said Thursday. That latest round of applications means a staggering 47.1 million Americans have made initial jobless benefits claims in just 14 weeks.
Florida bars cannot allow alcohol consumption, effective immediately
Florida is ordering bars to stop serving alcohol effective immediately.
The Department of Business and Professional Regulation this morning announced on Twitter that it was suspending on premises consumption of alcohol at bars statewide.
The news comes as the state Friday smashed the daily record for new COVID-19 cases with 8,942 reported. That’s a 62% increase over the previous record of 5,508 reported Wednesday.
– Dave Osborn, Naples Daily News
Young Americans less likely to social distance, survey says
Nearly half of young Americans say they’ve hung out with people outside of their household without social distancing, according to a new survey.
Among Americans ages 18 to 29, 45% said in the past week they have socialized with people they do not live with while not maintaining social distancing, according to a new survey from the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project. That is the highest rate among all age groups, with those ages 30 to 44 trailing just slightly at 42%.
That is almost two times the rate of other age groups. Among Americans ages 45 to 64, 28% reported socializing without social distancing. Americans over 65 were the least likely (21%) to have hung out with people they don’t live with while not social distancing.
– Rebecca Morin
New Jersey adds 1,854 coronavirus deaths after review of records
Another 1,854 New Jerseyans will be counted as victims of the coronavirus following a state review of death certificates and prior outbreaks, bringing the actual total toll to 14,872 residents, officials said Thursday.
The 1,854 deaths were added after laborious work to tally probable COVID-19 related deaths in recent months. The number does not indicate a single-day surge that could slow or derail New Jersey’s phased reopening.
“We report this out of nothing else than a solemn sense of duty,” Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday. “For many families we hope these determinations will provide a sense of closure and of finally knowing. For our state, I hope it steels our resolve to do all that we can to save every single life that we can save.”
– Stacey Barchenger, Trenton Bureau
Texas closes bars, limits restaurant occupancy
One day after pausing additional efforts to reopen Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday announced another round of restrictions, including closing bars and limiting restaurant occupancy.
The executive order requires Texas bars to close at noon Friday, although those businesses can still remain open for delivery and take out, including for alcoholic beverages. Restaurant dining rooms can remain open, but the order moves occupancy levels from 75% to 50%.
And outdoor gatherings of 100 or more must be approved by local governments, with exceptions for professional and collegiate sports, swimming pools, water parks, museums and libraries, zoos, and rodeo and equestrian events. Those businesses can remain open without approval from local governments but must operate at 50% occupancy.
Abbott on Thursday halted the state’s reopening plan and suspended elective surgeries in its largest counties in order to expand hospital bed availability for COVID-19 patients. Texas’ surgery order goes into effect Friday and will require all hospitals in the four designated counties to postpone surgeries and procedures that are not immediately life threatening.
– Nicole Cobler, Austin American-Statesman
Report: Trump administration is eyeing new testing strategy
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, told the Washington Post that officials are talking about implementing a new strategy that tests groups of people together.
It’s known as pool testing, where samples from multiple people are combined and tested as a group. While it doesn’t verify if a person has the coronavirus the way a diagnostic test does, pool testing helps identify people who are asymptomatic, health news site STAT reports.
Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator for the White House’s coronavirus task force, said this week that “pooling would give us the capacity to go from a half a million tests a day to potentially 5 million individuals tested per day,” according to STAT.
It works like this: Samples from a group of people are collected and one test is used on the entire pool. If it comes back negative, researchers can move on. If it comes back positive, each individual would be tested.
“What you need to do is find the penetration of infected people in your society,” Fauci told the Post. “And the only way you know that is by casting a broad net.”
Analysis: Younger people are a factor in surge of COVID-19 cases
A USA TODAY analysis finds that while most cases prior to late May were people 45 and older, most new cases since then are among younger people.
The rapid growth in coronavirus infections among younger Americans is one factor behind why some states have broken single-day records this week, and it marks a new phase in a U.S. pandemic that first gained widespread attention with a Washington nursing home outbreak in late February and early March.
Total cases among people younger than 45 have grown nearly twice as fast as for people 65 and older since late May, USA TODAY’s analysis of CDC data shows. The younger the age cohort, the more rapid the pace of growth.
Although COVID-19 has been known mainly for its impact on seniors, experts said the disease can debilitate patients in young age cohorts as well. And they warned that an expansion in cases among younger people ultimately threatens any vulnerable person with whom they come in contact.
– Jayme Fraser, Matt Wynn, Dan Keemahill and Karen Weintraub