U.S. House Speaker Pelosi urges Trump to ‘ask for directions’ on COVID-19 crisis

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U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday compared President Donald Trump to “the man who refuses to ask for directions” as she pleaded with the White House to seek input from the United States’ scientific leaders to reverse the rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths.

The Democratic speaker urged Trump to invoke the full power of the Defense Production Act to boost much-needed supplies for coronavirus testing and treatment as a weary nation battles the outbreak.

“Mr. President, admit it, you’ve gone down the wrong path, ask for directions, ask for directions from the scientists,” Pelosi said Thursday at the Capitol.

Tensions are rising as Congress considers the next virus relief package with no apparent endgame in sight for the pandemic that now threatens longer-term economic and societal turmoil than first envisioned.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday urged President Donald Trump to invoke the full power of the Defense Production Act to boost much-needed supplies for coronavirus testing and treatment. (Susan Walsh/The Associated Press)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is poised to release the Republican party’s $1-trillion US package as soon as next week. That plan is a counteroffer to the sweeping $3-trillion US proposal that House Democrats approved in May, before the latest spike in coronavirus cases and hot spots.

Months after McConnell hit “pause” on new spending, as he puts it, Republicans face a potentially more dire situation. They had hoped the pandemic would ease and the economy would recover. Instead, cases are spiking, states are resuming shutdowns and parents are wondering if it’s safe to send children back to school.

“There were some that hoped this would go away sooner than it has,” McConnell said Wednesday during a hospital visit in Kentucky, where he urged people to wear masks and socially distance.

“The straight talk here that everyone needs to understand: This is not going away,” McConnell said.

The United States is the worst-affected country in terms of infections, followed by Brazil and India. More than 137,000 people have died in the U.S. as a result of the virus, the highest of any country. As of 3 p.m. ET on Thursday, the global coronavirus case count stood at 13,654,445, with 586,174 deaths and 7,622,505 cases considered recovered, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

On Thursday, Florida reported the largest one-day increase in deaths from the novel coronavirus since the pandemic began and its second-largest increase in cases.

Florida announced 13,965 new cases, bringing the total number of cases in the state and the centre of the latest outbreak to over 315,775, according to the state health department.

Florida’s COVID-19-related deaths rose by 156 to a total of 4,782, surpassing its previous one-day record of 133 new deaths on July 12. Current hospitalizations of patients with COVID-19 was the highest ever reported at 8,626, up 321 in the past 24 hours, according to a state agency.

Meanwhile, Republicans will significantly limit the number of attendees at the party’s August convention nominating Trump for a second White House term in Jacksonville, Fla., amid the ongoing surge of cases.

“We had hoped to be able to plan a traditional convention celebration to which we are all accustomed. However, adjustments must be made to comply with state and local health guidelines,” Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel said in a letter delivered to delegates on Thursday.

Elsewhere in the U.S., bars and restaurants in New York City that receive three “strikes” for failing to enforce physical distancing will be forced to close, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday. Separately, an announcement on whether New York City would enter Phase 4 of reopening will be made at 4 p.m. ET on Friday, Cuomo said.

WATCH | Infection control epidemiologist responds to questions on the evolving risk of coronavirus:

Colin Furness says the low number of coronavirus cases from early B.C. serology tests show how vulnerable Canadians still are to COVID-19.  ‘We have a susceptible population in Canada, coast to coast,’  he said. 5:43

Two major U.S. retailers on Thursday joined the growing list of national chains that will require customers to wear face masks regardless of where cities or states stand on the issue.

Target’s mandatory face mask policy will go into effect Aug. 1, and all CVS drug stores will begin requiring them on Monday.

More than 80 per cent of Target’s 1,800 stores already require customers to wear masks due to local and state regulations. Target said it will hand out masks at entrances to those who need them.

The announcements come one day after the nation’s largest retailer, Walmart, said it would mandate face coverings for all customers starting Monday. Starbucks, Best Buy, Kohl’s and Kroger Co. have also announced mandatory masks nationwide.

What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada

As of 3 p.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had 109,083 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 72,782 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 8,860.

WATCH | Labour lawyer cautions that enforcing mask policies is likely to cause some conflict:

Andrew Monkhouse says companies need to plan for difficult customers with clear policies and training for employees to help reduce tension. 5:26

A Russian hacking group has gone after COVID-19-related vaccine research in Canada, the U.K. and the U.S., according to Canada’s cyber spies.

The Communications Security Establishment, responsible for Canada’s foreign signals intelligence, said APT29 — also known as Cozy Bear and the Dukes — is behind the malicious activity.

The group “almost certainly operates as part of Russian intelligence services,” the CSE said in a statement released Thursday morning in co-ordination with its international counterparts, an allegation the Kremlin immediately denied.

Cozy Bear has been identified by Washington as one of two Russian government-linked hacking groups that broke into the Democratic National Committee computer network and stole emails ahead of the 2016 presidential election. The other group is usually called Fancy Bear.

Here’s what’s happening around the world

Spain paid tribute Thursday to the nation’s victims of the novel coronavirus and workers who put their lives at risk during the worst of the pandemic with a solemn state ceremony in Madrid.

Relatives of around 100 people who died during the pandemic, and representatives of medical personnel, police and other essential workers, joined King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia, government members and officials from the European Union and the World Health Organization at an esplanade in Madrid’s Royal Palace.

The guests, masked and seated in a physically distanced fashion surrounding a central cauldron, included representatives from a dozen religious organizations and ambassadors. As a live performance of string music took over from the speeches, attendees left white roses by the cauldron.

Spain has officially recorded 28,413 deaths from the virus, although excess mortality figures suggest the actual figure is thousands higher. The country is grappling with dozens of fresh outbreaks after it emerged from a strict lockdown last month.

WATCH | White roses, black masks in Spanish tribute to COVID-19 victims:

The ceremony in Madrid also honoured front-line health-care workers. The disease hit Spain hard, killing more than 28,000 people to date.   1:00

France reported 534 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 18 new deaths from the virus on Thursday, hours after ministers urged people to start wearing masks in enclosed public places to prevent a new flare-up of the epidemic.

According to health ministry data, the total death toll since the outbreak started reached 30,138, and the number of confirmed cases was 173,838.

Earlier in the day, new Prime Minister Jean Castex said masks will be mandatory in closed public places as of next week, sooner than Aug. 1 as announced earlier by President Emmanuel Macron.

Australia’s coronavirus hot spot — the state of Victoria — is reporting a record 317 newly confirmed cases in a day. The tally for Thursday surpassed the state’s previous high of 288 on July 10.

The previous one-day Australian record was 212 cases set March 28 by New South Wales state during the first peak of the pandemic. New South Wales reported only 10 new cases Thursday. Two men in their 80s died in Victoria in the last 24 hours, bringing the country’s death toll for the pandemic to 113.

Victoria’s government is reducing the number of non-urgent surgeries allowed in hospitals to increase beds available for COVID-19 patients. State officials had planned to restore hospitals to normal medical services by the end of July before infections began to rise in recent weeks.

WATCH | Australian PM says situation in Victoria ‘very concerning’

While hopeful the lockdown will help lower the number of COVID-19 cases in the state of Victoria, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison remains concerned about the situation. 0:29

Confirmed coronavirus cases in Tokyo hit a daily record with 286, raising alarm Japan may be reopening too quickly. Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said one reason for the recent rise in cases is increased testing, which numbered more than 4,000 on Thursday.

She said 760 people are hospitalized, seven of them in serious condition, while more than 350 are quarantined at hotels and homes. Japan has had fewer than 23,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, and about 1,000 deaths.

People in Tokyo wear protective face masks as the city recorded a new daily high of COVID-19 cases. (Issei Kato/Reuters)

Israel reached a daily record of confirmed coronavirus cases, the country’s Health Ministry said Thursday, as a new nationwide lockdown to curb the pandemic appeared imminent.

The Health Ministry on Thursday reported 1,898 new cases of the virus. The country has registered more than 44,500 total cases. At least 380 Israelis have died of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.

A paramedic with Israel’s Magen David Adom emergency medical service holds a tube containing a swab from a COVID-19 test. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)

Hospitals in Iran face acute shortages of medical personnel and beds as the country tackles a powerful second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, a senior official of Tehran’s anti-coronavirus task force said on Thursday.

Iran, the Middle East country hardest hit by the pandemic, began relaxing its lockdown in mid-April. But a second wave of infections emerged in early June and has proven much more serious than the first one, said Reza Jalili-Khoshnood, who is himself infected, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported.

WATCH | Where are we in the pandemic?

Four months into the COVID-19 pandemic and answers to questions about masks, vaccines and catching the virus are still evolving. We check in with Dr. Lynora Saxinger and Dr. Raywat Deonandan for the latest insights. 7:20

Iran recorded 13,608 related deaths as of Thursday, including 198 in the previous 24 hours, according to Health Ministry spokesperson Sima Sadat Lari, who was speaking on state TV. Sadat Lari told state television that the total number of diagnosed cases in the country had reached 267,061, up by 2,500 in the last 24 hours.

Jalili-Khoshnood was quoted as saying that at one hospital — Tehran’s Shohada, where he is hospitalized — 172 medical staff have been infected themselves or are caring for infected family members. He said he there were also shortages of beds, including of intensive care beds.

His comments contrast with President Hassan Rouhani’s regular assurances that Iran has sufficient supplies of medical personnel and facilities. While struggling to curb the spread of COVID-19, Iranian authorities are concerned that tougher measures against it could wreck an economy already reeling under U.S. sanctions.

A woman wears a protective face mask as she walks through the Nasr Shopping Center in Tehran. (Vahid Salemi/The Associated Press)

India’s virus cases have surged another 32,695, taking the national count closer to one million and forcing a new lockdown in the popular western beach state of Goa, two weeks after it reopened to tourists.

The new confirmed cases took the national total to 968,876. The Health Ministry on Wednesday also reported a record number of 606 deaths for a total of 24,915.

The Indian Medical Association said 99 doctors have died and another 1,302 are infected with the coronavirus. It called for shortening of working hours for health workers following safety concerns. It also said the fatality rate among doctors was 7.6 per cent, much higher than the national average of about 2.5 per cent.

About a dozen states, including Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Assam, have put high-risk areas under lockdowns, allowing only essential food supplies and health services.

Published at Thu, 16 Jul 2020 11:04:47 +0000

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