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U.S. closes in on 3 million total coronavirus cases

The latest:

  • Trump threatening to withhold federal money if schools don’t reopen in the fall.
  • U.S. reaches milestone of more than three million known COVID-19 infections.
  • Canadian finance minister to deliver fiscal ‘snapshot’ of federal spending since pandemic started.
  • Edmonton hospital closed to patients as COVID-19 outbreak intensifies.
  • Brazilian president says he is confident he will swiftly recover from COVID-19.
  • Spain’s Catalonia region makes masks mandatory everywhere.
  • Africa’s confirmed COVID-19 cases now above a half million.

As the number of COVID-19 cases surpassed three million in the U.S. on Wednesday, President Donald Trump threatened to withhold federal money if schools don’t reopen in the fall, and he lashed out at federal health officials over school reopening guidelines that he says are impractical and expensive.

Taking to Twitter to voice his frustration, Trump argued that countries including Germany, Denmark and Norway have reopened schools “with no problems.” He also repeated his claim that Democrats want to keep schools closed for political reasons, not because of any risks associated with the novel coronavirus.

“The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November election,” Trump tweeted, “but is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!”

He did not immediately say what funding he would cut off or what authority he had to make the move.

Trump made the comments a day after launching an all-out effort pressing state and local officials to reopen the nation’s schools and colleges this fall. At a White House event on Tuesday, health and education officials argued that keeping students out of school for the fall semester would pose greater health risks than any tied to the coronavirus.

His comments came as Johns Hopkins University reported the grim new milestone in the number of cases confirmed in the U.S., a day after the country’s two most-populous states, Texas and California, reported record numbers of new infections. As of Wednesday, 131,594 people are known to have died from the respiratory illness in the U.S. 

Authorities have reported alarming upswings of daily caseloads in roughly two-dozen states over the past two weeks, a sign that efforts to control transmission of the novel coronavirus have failed in large swaths of the country.

Hawaii, Missouri, Montana and Oklahoma on Tuesday also shattered their previous daily record highs for new cases. About 24 states have also reported disturbingly high infection rates as a percentage of diagnostic tests conducted over the past week.

In Texas alone, the number of hospitalized patients more than doubled in just two weeks.

A waiter carries plates past physical distancing greenhouse dining pods in the former parking lot of the Lady Byrd Cafe in Los Angeles on Tuesday. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

In Florida, more than four-dozen hospitals across 25 of 67 counties reported their intensive care units had reached full capacity, according to the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration. Only 17 per cent of the total 6,010 adult ICU beds statewide were available on Tuesday, down from 20 per cent three days earlier.

Additional hospitalizations could strain health-care systems in many areas, leading to an uptick in deaths from the respiratory illness that has killed more than 131,000 Americans to date.


What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada

As of 11:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Canada had 106,367 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 70,161 of the cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 8,768. 

Canadians will get a glimpse on Wednesday at how much the federal government has been spending since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Finance Minister Bill Morneau delivers what he call his fiscal “snapshot,” starting at 1:40 p.m. ET. It’s projected that the deficit could be in excess of $250 billion.

“As we measure the cost of helping Canadians, we shouldn’t forget that the cost of doing nothing would have been far more to both our health care and our economy,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said ahead of Morneau’s report.

Ontario, with the second-highest count for COVID-19, added 118 new cases on Wednesday, for a total of 36,178 — after reporting 112 new cases on Tuesday, when the province introduced new legislation to enable the extension of some pandemic emergency orders over the next year. 

Quebec added 82 new cases Wednesday for a provincial total of 56,079.

People wear face masks at Toronto’s Eaton Centre shopping mall on Tuesday. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

In Edmonton, the Misericordia Community Hospital is closing its doors to new patients and has cancelled all surgeries as an outbreak of COVD-19 continues to spread.

As of Wednesday morning, 20 patients and 15 staff members had tested positive. Three patients linked to the outbreak have died.

The hospital had previously cancelled day surgeries, restricted visitors and had begun testing of staff and patients.

WATCH | Is the handshake over?

COVID-19 has made the handshake a thing of the past. The National’s Adrienne Arsenault finds out how people can show trust and goodwill without shaking on it. 5:03

Here’s what’s happening around the world

In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro said he is confident he will swiftly recover from the novel coronavirus thanks to treatment with hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug that has not been proven effective against the virus.

Bolsonaro, 65, said he tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday after months of downplaying its severity while deaths mounted rapidly inside the country.

WATCH | Bolsonaro tests positive after downplaying risk of COVID-19:

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro tests positive for COVID-19, after spending months downplaying the risk of the disease. 2:03

The president told reporters he underwent a lung X-ray on Monday after experiencing fever, muscle aches and malaise. As of Tuesday, his fever had subsided, he said, and he attributed the improvement to hydroxychloroquine.

The right-wing populist posted a video to Facebook of him taking his third dose of hydroxychloroquine, which has also been promoted by U.S. President Donald Trump.

“Today I’m a lot better, so certainly it’s working,” Bolsonaro said, downing the dose with a glass of water. 

Brazil, the world’s sixth-biggest nation with more than 210 million people, is one of the outbreak’s most lethal hot spots. More than 65,000 Brazilians have died from COVID-19, and over 1.5 million have been infected.

Both numbers are the world’s second-highest totals, behind those of the U.S., though the true figures are believed to be higher because of a lack of widespread testing. On Tuesday alone, 1,254 deaths were confirmed.

WATCH | Respirologist on risk of airborne transmission of COVID-19:

Dr. Samir Gupta says there is not yet enough evidence to show significant spread of the coronavirus through airborne transmission. 5:40

Africa now has more than a half-million confirmed coronavirus cases. The continent-wide total is over 508,000, according to figures released Wednesday by the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The true number of cases among Africa’s 1.3 billion people is unknown as its 54 countries continue to face a serious shortage of testing materials for the virus.

“A tremendous problem. A real crisis of access,” the World Health Organization’s Africa chief, Matshidiso Moeti, said last week.

A boy stands in front of a graffiti promoting the fight against the novel coronavirus in the Mathare slums of Nairobi, Kenya. (Baz Ratner/Reuters)

Already COVID-19 has killed more people in Africa — 11,955 — than Ebola did in its deadliest outbreak from 2014 to 2016 in West Africa, the WHO said Wednesday.

In Iran, the death toll from COVID-19 passed 12,000 on Wednesday, health ministry spokesperson Sima Sadat Lari said in a statement on state TV. The total number of infections in the country has reached 248,379, she said. 

In the Serbian capital of Belgrade on Tuesday, thousands of protesters fought running battles with police and tried to storm the parliament building after the president announced that a coronavirus lockdown will be reintroduced.

Police fired several rounds of tear gas at the protesters, some chanting “Resignation! Resignation!” as they gathered in front of the downtown parliament building. Some of the protesters briefly managed to enter parliament by force, but were pushed back by riot police.

Protesters scuffle with police in front of the National Assembly building in Belgrade on Tuesday night. (Oliver Bunic/AFP/Getty Images)

The protesters responded by hurling flares, stones, bottles and eggs at police. Several clashes erupted between some of the most extremist rioters apparently belonging to far-right groups and the baton-wielding police.

In Romania, the number of COVID-19 cases now exceeds 30,000, with about 1,800 deaths, the government reported on Wednesday.

In Spain, Catalonia’s regional authorities will on Wednesday decide to make it mandatory to wear masks regardless of people’s ability to maintain a safe distance, becoming the country’s first region to do so, Catalan regional leader Quim Torra said.

Torra said the measure would come into force on Thursday.
 
Wearing masks indoors and outdoors is mandatory in Spain if people cannot guarantee a 1.5-metre distance from one another until a cure or vaccine for the coronavirus is found.

In Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday said the country should slow down the return of its citizens from abroad, as Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, and surrounding regions began another partial lockdown to slow the spread of the virus.

The border between the states of Victoria and New South Wales, the busiest in the country, was closed overnight.

Morrison said he would take a proposal on reducing the number of repatriation flights to a national cabinet of state and territory leaders on Friday.

WATCH | Almost 5 million Australians under lockdown after spike in coronavirus cases:

Lockdown in Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city, includes the closure of the state border, creating headaches for people who routinely work or travel between Victoria and New South Wales. (Ross/AAP Image/Reuters) 1:08

Published at Wed, 08 Jul 2020 12:28:45 +0000

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