Virus surges in US, states shut down again

Tamara Lush and Emily Schmall
Arizona on Sunday reported the highest number of new coronavirus infections in a single day

Arizona's Republican governor has shut down bars, movie theatres, gyms and water parks and leaders in several US states have ordered residents to wear masks in public in a dramatic course reversal amid an alarming resurgence of coronavirus cases nationwide.

Among those implementing the face-covering orders is the city of Jacksonville, Florida, where the mask-averse President Donald Trump plans to accept the Republican nomination in August. Less than a week after Mayor Lenny Curry said there would be no mask requirement, city officials announced that coverings must be worn in "situations where individuals cannot socially distance".

Trump has refused to wear a mask during visits to states and businesses that require them.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey's order went into effect immediately on Monday and for at least 30 days. Ducey also also ordered public schools to delay the start of the classes at least until August 17.

"Our expectation is that our numbers next week will be worse," he said.

Arizona health officials reported 3858 more confirmed coronavirus cases on Sunday, the most reported in a single day in the state so far and the seventh time in the last 10 days that daily cases surpassed the 3000 mark. Since the pandemic began, 74,500 cases and 1588 deaths stemming from the virus have been reported in Arizona.

Most Arizona bars and nightclubs opened after Ducey's stay-at-home and business closure orders were allowed to expire in mid-May.

The state is not alone in its reversal. Places such as Texas, Florida and California are backtracking, closing beaches and bars in some cases amid a resurgence of the virus. Oregon and Kansas, meanwhile, announced on Monday that everyone would be required to wear masks in public.

The United States on Monday reported 38,800 newly confirmed infections, with the total surpassing 2.5 million, or about a quarter of the more than 10 million cases worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 503,000 people have died.

Elsewhere around the world, Britain reimposed lockdown restrictions on the city of Leicester after a spike in cases, ordering the closing of schools along with stores that do not sell essential goods.

India set another record with a one-day total of 20,000 newly confirmed infections. Several Indian states have reimposed partial or full lockdowns after the total number of cases jumped by nearly 100,000 in one week to about 548,000.

In China, nearly 8.3 million out of about 21 million have undergone testing in recent weeks in Beijing after an outbreak centred on a wholesale market. The country reported just 12 new cases on Monday, including seven in Beijing.

South Korean authorities reported 47 new cases as they struggled to curb outbreaks that have spread from Seoul to other regions. Officials said they are preparing to impose stronger social-distancing measures - including banning gatherings of more than 10 people, shutting schools and halting professional sports - if the daily increase in infections doubles more than twice in a week.

In the Philippines, a Southeast Asian coronavirus hot spot with more than 35,000 confirmed infections, local officials came under fire for allowing a street parade and dance during a weekend religious festival to honour St John the Baptist despite prohibitions against public gatherings.

The European Union is preparing a list of 15 countries whose citizens will be allowed to visit the bloc beginning on Wednesday, Spain's foreign minister, Arancha Gonzalez Laya, told the Cadena SER radio network. Because of the resurgence in the US, America may not be on that list.

"This is not an exercise to be nice or unfriendly to other countries. This is an exercise of self-responsibility," she said.