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Virus Updates: US Sets New Single-Day Record of Cases; CDC Extends ‘No Sail Order'

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The U.S. on Thursday set a new record of more than 72,000 coronavirus cases reported within a single day as the total numbers climb to nearly 3.6 million cases and over 139,000 deaths, according to NBC News.

The U.S. reported 72,494 cases on Thursday shortly before 9 p.m. ET, according to an NBC News tally. The number of cases is expected to rise before the day's end. The previous record of 71,254 was set July 10.

Target and CVS Health joined Walmart and other companies in saying they will also start requiring all customers to wear a face covering when shopping at locations nationwide. Starbucks, Best Buy, Kohl’s and Kroger Co. have also announced mandatory masks nationwide.

In the South, Republican governors in Tennessee, South Carolina and Florida have resisted calls for a statewide mask mandate but allow local jurisdictions to implement them.

Georgia's Gov. Brian Kemp has gone in another direction. Even though he has "strongly encouraged" people to wear masks, he issued an executive order banning local mask mandates. That prompted backlash from leaders in many of the 15 cities and counties that had ordered face coverings be worn to slow the spread of the virus.

At the White House Wednesday, President Donald Trump said he has "a very good relationship" with Dr. Anthony Fauci and that "we're all on the same team" after trade adviser Peter Navarro published an op-ed in USA Today criticizing Dr. Fauci.

USA Today, for its part, said Thursday that the column it had solicited from Navarro was misleading and did not meet its fact-checking standards.

Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.:

'Fighting Alone': Maryland's Republican Governor Says Trump Left State Vulnerable to Pandemic

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican who has received bipartisan praise for his handling of the pandemic, said Trump left states to fend for themselves during the pandemic and accused the president of not listening to medical experts in a piece published by The Washington Post.

"While other countries were racing ahead with well-coordinated testing regimes, the Trump administration bungled the effort," Hogan wrote. "Meanwhile, instead of listening to his own public health experts, the president was talking and tweeting like a man more concerned about boosting the stock market or his reelection plans."

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany dismissed Hogan's remarks as "revisionist history," NBC News reports.


CDC Extends US Ban on Cruise Ships Through September

Federal health officials are extending the U.S. ban on cruise ships through the end September as coronavirus infections rise in most U.S. states, including Florida.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday that it was extending a no-sail order that had been scheduled to expire July 24.

Major cruise lines that belong to an industry trade group had already canceled cruises until Sept. 15 because of ongoing discussions with federal officials over how to restart operations safely.

Coronavirus infections are rising in 40 states, and daily deaths have climbed more than 20% from a week ago. Florida, where many cruises begin and end, reported nearly 14,000 new virus cases and set a single-day record of 156 deaths reported on Thursday, beating the previous high of 132 deaths reported Tuesday.

From March 1 through July 10, there have been nearly 3,000 cases of COVID-19 or similar illnesses and 34 deaths on cruise ships, according to the CDC. There have been 99 outbreaks covering 80% of the ships in U.S. waters, the CDC said.

Major cruise lines are trying to save cash and raise more money on the private credit markets to survive the pandemic. Carnival Corp. said last week that it expects to burn about $20 million a day in cash through the rest of this year.


Governors in Arkansas, Colorado Issue Statewide Mask Mandates

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said Thursday he is issuing an executive order requiring face coverings in indoor public areas to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Polis, a Democrat, had long resisted issuing a statewide mask mandate. But he's come under increasing pressure as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations mount in Colorado.

Several local governments have caused confusion by opting out of mask orders issued by individual county health departments. Polis’ order will override those local decisions.

More than 38,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Colorado, and more than 1,700 people have died with the disease, according to state health officials.

In Arkansas, Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued an order Thursday requiring people to wear face masks in public throughout the state, which has had a surge in coronavirus cases over the past several weeks.

The Republican governor had resisted a statewide mask mandate and opposed issuing a stay-at-home order earlier in the pandemic, but he signed the order requiring masks when social distancing isn't possible in the hopes of slowing the disease's rapid spread in the state. The order takes effect Monday.

Arkansas' coronavirus cases have dramatically risen since May, when the state began allowing businesses that had closed because of the pandemic to reopen despite warnings from national health officials about the risks of doing so too soon. Arkansas was one of a handful of states that did not issue a broader stay-at-home order that kept most businesses closed.


Pelosi Urges Trump to 'Ask for Directions' From Scientists

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 nation's 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 to the pandemic that now threatens longer-term economic and societal turmoil that first envisioned.

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


Nearly a Thousand COVID-19 Cases Reported in California Day Cares

NBC Bay Area's Investigative Unit obtained new data that shows 998 positive cases of the new coronavirus at child care facilities across California in the four months between March 11 and July 12.

The cases are up 12% since last week, according to California’s Department of Social Services, which recently started compiling the cases at child care facilities and will continue posting weekly on its website, along with resources and guidelines for child care businesses.

Scott Murray, Deputy Director of Public Affairs for DSS said the 998 positive COVID-19 cases represent child care staff, children attending the centers, and their parents, across more than 38,000 child care facilities in the state.

Los Angeles tops the list with 170 cases. It has, by far, the most facilities open during the pandemic. Santa Clara County had 28 cases, the most in the Bay Area.

Child care providers told NBC Bay Area they’re struggling to keep up with changing guidelines as they try their best to keep kids safe.

One rule from the CDC requires child care workers to change all of a child’s clothing each time they cry - and then change their own shirt as well. State guidelines require kids to nap in cots that are six feet apart at nap time while arranging cots feet to head alternately. The logistics of that are a challenge for many child care providers, especially smaller home services.

Read NBC Bay Area's full story here.


Local Georgia Officials Say Governor Can't Block Their Mask Bans

Mayors in Atlanta and other Georgia cities say they want their requirements for people to wear masks in public to remain in place, even after Gov. Brian Kemp explicitly forbade cities and counties from mandating face coverings.

Officials in at least 15 Georgia cities and counties had ordered masks, and many are venting outrage at Kemp swatting down their efforts.

Kemp is encouraging people to wear masks, but declines to make it mandatory, unlike governors in 25 other states.

“The mayor's order remains in effect, as science and data will continue to drive the city's decisions,” Michael Smith, a spokesman for Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, wrote to The Associated Press in a text. “Masks save lives.”

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson, the first to defy Kemp by ordering masks on July 1, took to Twitter on Wednesday night to lambaste the governor.

“It is officially official. Governor Kemp does not give a damn about us," Johnson wrote. "Every man and woman for himself/herself. Ignore the science and survive the best you can.”

Read the full story.


Florida Reports Record Deaths, Hospitalizations; Total Case Count Reaches 315K

Florida authorities reported a record 156 new coronavirus-related deaths Thursday and said hospitalization set another record for a second-straight day with 491, NBC Miami reported. The death toll surpassed Tuesday's 132 deaths.

Florida's 13,965 new COVID-19 cases since Wednesday has brought the state's total to 315,775, according to figures released by the Florida Department of Health. More than 83,000 cases have been reported in the past seven days.

The percentage of tests for the virus that came back positive Wednesday was 15.4%, a third-straight daily decline. The World Health Organization has said that countries should aim for a positivity rate below 5%.

In Miami, Mayor Francis Suarez raised the possibility of another lockdown in response to the pandemic.

“I think it’s important that we communicate with the business community before making any decisions," Suarez said. “If something is not done in the next few weeks to alter our course, we could be in a dire situation.”


GOP to Restrict Convention Attendance in Jacksonville

The Republican National Committee is sharply restricting attendance on three of the four nights of its convention in Jacksonville, Florida, next month as coronavirus cases are spiking in the state.

RNC chair Ronna McDaniel said only the roughly 2,500 regular delegates to the convention will be permitted to attend the opening three nights. Delegates, their guests and alternate delegates will be permitted to attend the final night, Aug. 27, when President Donald Trump is set to deliver his acceptance speech.

The GOP was forced to move the convention from Charlotte, North Carolina, after Charlotte officials ruled out a full-capacity crowd because of the pandemic.

Some Republican senators have already said they won't plan to attend the event.

Read the full story.


Hospital Bed Data That Disappeared From CDC Site After HHS Took Control Will Return

Data that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regularly published on the availability of hospital beds and intensive care units across the country disappeared soon after the Department of Health and Human Services directed that states stop sending hospital information to the CDC's system, CNBC reported.

“We were surprised because the modules that we normally go to were empty. The data wasn’t available and not there,” said Ryan Panchadsaram with the data-tracking site Covid Exit Strategy. “There was no warning.”

Public health experts have said that the CDC's data reporting system needed to be overhauled. But some expressed concern that the Trump administration's shift in reporting could lead to less transparent data.

HHS spokesman Michael Caputo told CNBC in a statement that the CDC was directed to make the data available again on its site.

In the future, he said “more powerful insights” will be provided by HHS, he said.

Read CNBC's full story here.


US Prison Populations Down 8% Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

There has been a major drop in the number of people behind bars in the U.S. An analysis by The Marshall Project and The Associated Press found that between March and June, more than 100,000 people were released from state and federal prisons.

That's a drop of 8%. By comparison, the Vera Institute of Justice found that for all of 2019, the state and federal prison population fell by 2.2%.

As the U.S. struggles with the coronavirus, prison reform advocates are urging releases to halt its spread in correctional facilities. But their release, and how they behave when they’re out, is likely to affect the larger criminal justice reform movement.

Carolyn Johnson reported on NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Monday, May 18, 2020.

Number of Laid-off Workers Seeking Jobless Aid Stuck at 1.3M

The number of laid-off workers seeking unemployment benefits remained stuck at 1.3 million last week, an historically high level that indicates many companies are still cutting jobs as the viral outbreak intensifies.

The elevated level of applications for jobless aid is occurring as new confirmed cases of coronavirus are spiking across much of the Sunbelt, threatening to weaken the economic recovery.

Case counts are rising in 40 states and 22 states have either paused or reversed their efforts to reopen their economies, according to Bank of America.

Read the full story here.


Public Schools Will Be Virtual-only in the Fall in Richmond, Va.

A Virginia school board has decided to hold only virtual classes during the fall for all grade levels because of coronavirus concerns.

The Richmond School Board decided in an 8-1 vote Tuesday to teach lessons online with COVID-19 cases rising in the state.

Superintendent Jason Kamras gave the board five plans to choose from that included hybrid lessons or allowing certain students and grades to go back to in-class learning.

Kamras said the virtual instruction would be broken down into live-teaching and playlist-teaching. He also said teachers and staff would be given more training for working in a virtual environment. The district also plans to buy an additional five to eight thousand chromebooks, WIFI hotspots and 250 laptops.

Richmond joins a growing list of U.S. cities to announce that public school students will not return to classrooms when the new term begins because of surges in coronavirus cases. San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Diego, are among those choosing to start the new term with digital learning amid strong concerns from teachers unions and public health officials about the safety of staff on school campuses.

Parents from across the country are expressing conflicting emotions about school reopening plans for the fall. Some parents want to keep their children out of school until there is a vaccine while others believe that children will suffer mentally and emotionally without proper in-person instruction.

New Evidence Shows That Cloth Face Coverings Slow Coronavirus Spread

With coronavirus spreading faster than ever in the U.S., two new studies are providing more evidence that universal face masking is an effective tool to help slow the spread of the virus, TODAY reported.

In the first study, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston monitored how wearing a mask affected transmission rates of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, among hospital health care workers.

Researchers tracked the infection rates among staff before and after the mask mandate.

Before masking, the positivity rate of testing was increasing exponentially at a rate of 1.16 percent per day. After masks were required, the positivity rate among health care workers started to slowly decline at rate of 0.49 percent per day.

A separate report released by the CDC Wednesday found that masks protected against the virus spread in a Springfield, Missouri, hair salon.

Two hairstylists at the salon developed respiratory symptoms but had continued working until they received positive test results for coronavirus.

Between the two stylists, 139 clients had been potentially exposed between the time the stylists developed symptoms to when they received the test results. Both of the stylists and their clients wore face coverings while they were in the salon.

Through contact tracing efforts, local officials found no symptomatic cases reported from exposure to the hairstylists. In addition, 67 of the clients who were exposed were tested and all of them were negative.

Read the full story here

Here are some dos and don'ts when it comes to wearing a mask, explained by some of history's most famous paintings.

New York State Tops 25,000 Confirmed Coronavirus Deaths

New York state's confirmed virus deaths topped 25,000 Wednesday as Gov. Andrew Cuomo added nine more names to the toll, NBC New York reported.

Daily death tolls have dropped to the single digits in recent weeks, down from an 11-day stretch of "hell" in April, according to the governor, where nearly 800 New Yorkers were dying a day. New York City accounts for the lion's share of the state's confirmed deaths (65 percent) and adds another 4,616 fatalities that were probably attributable to the virus but were never connected via diagnosis.

Cuomo acknowledges the state's actual death toll is likely much higher -- and warns it could grow more if New Yorkers don't continue the mitigation measures like masks and social distancing that he says bent the curve in the first place.


Texas Sets Record for COVID-19 Deaths

Two weeks after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott ordered most of the state's 30 million residents to wear masks, Texas is still scrambling to contain one of the biggest coronavirus surges in the U.S., and Abbott is stressing that the widespread use of face coverings could avoid another lockdown --- one he hasn't ruled out.

On Wednesday, Texas again set a new high with nearly 10,800 new cases, along with a record 110 deaths.

Although it remains too early to tell the impact since Texas' mask order was announced before the Fourth of July weekend, other former face mask holdouts continued relenting Wednesday. Republican Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama announced a statewide mask order just a few weeks after saying enforcing one would be "next to impossible," NBC DFW reported.

The moves were a troubling indication that authorities don’t expect an early end to the COVID-19 surge after managing to slower the infection spread earlier this year.

California reported 11,126 additional confirmed cases of the virus between Monday and Tuesday and 140 deaths, the second-highest one-day totals. The largest uptick, by far, was in Los Angeles County, which has a quarter of the state’s population.

It has had well over half of California’s nearly 7,200 COVID-19 deaths.

The Ebb and Flow of New Coronavirus Cases and Deaths

The graphs below illustrate the distribution of new coronavirus cases and deaths in the U.S. While New York accounted for the lion’s share of new cases and deaths in March and April, its numbers have declined in May as some states have increased. Hover or tap to see new daily cases and deaths across the country. States with the most are ordered top to bottom.

Source: The COVID Tracking Project
Credit: Amy O’Kruk/NBC


Another New High Set for Virus Patients in Georgia Hospitals

Large numbers of infections keep getting confirmed every day, more people keep being hospitalized, and deaths are climbing as the coronavirus continues its march through Georgia.

Wednesday's numbers showed nearly 2,800 people hospitalized statewide with the COVID-19 respiratory illness, the highest on record and a number that's nearly doubled since the beginning of the month. The state reports 84% of hospitals' available critical beds are in use, although some hospitals say they have opened up more space and have more room.

Georgia overall had nearly 128,000 confirmed infections and nearly 3,100 deaths overall as of Wednesday, although experts say many more people get the illness but are never tested.

The state has been seeking new hospital beds to handle the record-setting number of people admitted with the virus. Gov. Brian Kemp's administration on Tuesday signed a deal with Piedmont Healthcare, one of four large hospital systems in the Atlanta area, to open 62 beds in a new tower at the system's main Atlanta hospital. The state is providing nurses to staff the beds off a contract with a private staffing company. A Kemp spokesperson on Wednesday could not immediately say how much the state was paying Piedmont or how long the deal would last.

How Coronavirus Has Grown in Each State — in 1 Chart

This chart shows the cumulative number of cases per state by number of days since the 50th case.

Source: The COVID Tracking Project
Credit: Amy O’Kruk/NBC


'An Alarming and Dangerous Phase': California Counties See Virus Spikes

School districts barred campus reopenings, the Rose Parade was canceled and San Francisco doubled down on business restrictions as California hit a near-record level of confirmed coronavirus cases amid a surging outbreak.

Hospitalizations and rates of positive COVID-19 tests also rose on Tuesday and health officers voiced concern that intensive care units could be overwhelmed in some places unless the infection rate is reduced.

The situation is in “an alarming and dangerous phase” in the Los Angeles area, Barbara Ferrer, public health director for the nation’s largest county, said Wednesday.

Her comment came two days after Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti warned that the city was "on the verge” of returning to shutting down all but essential businesses, while San Francisco on Wednesday announced it would retain its ban on indoor restaurant dining and businesses such as nail and hair salons that require close contact with customers.


Pennsylvania Gov. Imposes New Restrictions for Bars, Restaurants and Gyms

Pennsylvania is imposing broad new statewide restrictions on bars and restaurants and larger indoor gatherings, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Wednesday, citing an “alarming escalation” in new coronavirus infections and heavily criticizing people who he said had disregarded public health orders.

Some of the restrictions have already been in place in Philadelphia since the shutdowns began months ago.

Nightclubs will be shut down, bars will also be closed unless they also offer dine-in meals, and bars and restaurants will be limited to 25% capacity under Wolf’s order, which takes effect Thursday and also requires companies statewide to have their employees telework to the extent possible, NBC Philadelphia reported.

The Associated Press/NBC
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