WORLD NEWS
07/06/2020 09:31 EDT | Updated 07/08/2020 07:49 EDT

COVID-19 Live Updates: States Still Struggle To Administer Coronavirus Tests

Stay up to date as we cover the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its effects across the world.

Since Chinese officials locked down the city of Wuhan in January, there have been more than 11.8 million cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, across the planet.

More than 544,000 people have died from the disease, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Efforts to curb the outbreak have led to the global disruption of daily life and the economy, as schools and workplaces shuttered in hopes of slowing transmission. After months of precautions and lockdowns, governments have begun to reopen their economies.

HuffPost reporters around the world are tracking the pandemic and its effects.

Read the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic below. (To see the latest updates, you may need to refresh the page. All times are Eastern. For earlier updates on the pandemic, go here.)

Boris Johnson Accused Of ‘Trumpian’ Response To UK Care Home Row — 7/08/20, 7:45 a.m.

A charity boss who went viral for his attack on U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s “cowardly” criticism of care homes has hit out at Downing Street’s “Trumpian” response and refusal to apologize.

Mark Adams, who oversees a workforce of 6,500 staff helping people with dementia and learning difficulties, spoke out after Johnson’s spokesman tried to suggest the prime minister was not apportioning blame when he said, “Too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures in the way that they could have.”

The row, which has dominated British politics this week, has seen Johnson blasted for a string of government failures in the pandemic. Adams told HuffPost UK that the government’s move to clarify Johnson’s remarks felt like an attempt to “bluff” his way through the controversy.

He added that Johnson response echoed Donald Trump’s denial of statements he himself had made, which were easily provable. “I think we’ve had numerous examples of kind of Trumpian revisions of history. I mean it’s normally been other ministers standing up at [the] five o’clock [government press conference] patting themselves on the back for a job well done,” he said.

The U.K. death toll stands at 44,391, the third-highest in the world. Read more

— Paul Waugh

Millions Of Australians Head Back In Back Into Lockdown Amid Melbourne Outbreak — 7/08/2020, 7:30 a.m.

Five million Australians face a heavy police clampdown from midnight on Wednesday to contain a flare-up of coronavirus cases, with checkpoints to be set up around Melbourne to ensure people stay at home.

Police said they would conduct random checks of vehicles on major roads surrounding the country’s second-most populous city, creating a “ring of steel” as partial lockdowns are reinstated for six weeks to stem a surge in infections.

Melburnians will be allowed to leave home only for essential business for the next six weeks. Cafes, bars, restaurants and gyms will shut again.

The renewed lockdown follows the closure of the country’s busiest border, between Victoria and Australia’s most populous state New South Wales, on Tuesday night.

Melbourne is the capital of Victoria state, which reported 134 new infections on Wednesday, down from the previous day’s record 191 but well over the low single-digit daily increases elsewhere in the country.

Nationwide, Australia has reported about 9,000 COVID-19 cases and 106 deaths from the virus.

— Reuters

6 Dead, 1,500 Infected As Virus Ravages California’s San Quentin Prison — 7/8/2020, 4:50 a.m.

As of Tuesday, 1,369 people incarcerated at California’s San Quentin Prison and 184 staffers had tested positive for the coronavirus, and six inmates have died, per the state’s tracking tool, in an outbreak that has grown devastating in recent weeks.

Advocates have urged Gov. Gavin Newsom to release more prisoners in response. Last week, 20 inmates went on hunger strike to protest its inhumane conditions including dirty, cramped cells.

There have been more than 5,000 coronavirus cases among California’s prison system and 29 inmates have died. Read more

—  Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

Trump Promises To Pressure Governors To Reopen Schools In Fall – 7/07/20, 10:00 p.m.

President Donald Trump vowed to pressure states and local governments to open schools in the fall, despite the recent surge in coronavirus cases nationwide. At a White House roundtable to discuss fall plans for public schools, Trump claimed, without proof, that some schools were staying closed for political reasons.

“They think it’s going to be good for them politically, so they keep the schools closed,” Trump said of local leaders. “No way. We’re very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools.”

The president also claimed that “everybody” wanted schools to open in-person classes for the fall.

“We want to reopen the schools,” Trump said. “Everybody wants it. The moms want it, the dads want it, the kids want it. It’s time to do it.”

Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association, a prominent education union, decried Trump’s promise to pressure local leaders to open schools and called for safer measures in an interview with The Associated Press.

“Trump has proven to be incapable of grasping that people are dying — that more than 130,000 Americans have already died,” García told the AP. “Educators want nothing more than to be back in classrooms and on college campuses with our students, but we must do it in a way that keeps students, educators and communities safe.”

– Carla Russo

Months Into Pandemic, Several States Continue To Struggle Administering Coronavirus Tests — 7/07/20, 1:07 p.m. ET

Several months since the first coronavirus case was diagnosed in the U.S., multiple states are still having trouble administering coronavirus tests to all who want them, kneecapping efforts to slow the spread of the virus. In numerous states seeing spikes in cases and hospitalizations — including Arizona and Texas — some people have reported waiting in miles-long lines for hours to receive drive-thru testing. 

Just weeks after Donald Trump told attendees at a rally he asked officials in his administration to “slow the testing down,” the faltering testing systems in Arizona and Texas, as well as in Louisiana and Florida, demonstrates the wide gap between Americans’ lived experiences and the White House’s lax approach to the pandemic.  

In Arizona and Texas, in particular, several people wanting to get tested have reported using up their gas tanks spending hours in drive-thru lines. In Florida, a test site spokesman recently said the state is “asking people to have plenty of gas and make sure the air conditioning is working and make sure your windows can fully open and close because if not, they can’t perform a test on you.”

On Sunday, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said the Federal Emergency Management Agency told her they’ve “moved away” from assisting communities with testing after she requested help administering tests in her city, which leads the country in the number of new coronavirus cases per capita.

“We’ve asked FEMA if they could come and do community-based testing here,” Gallego said. “We were told they’re moving away from that, which feels like they’re declaring victory while we’re still in crisis mode.”

— Ja’han Jones

Brazil’s Bolsonaro Tests Positive For Coronavirus  — 7/07/20, 11:30 a.m. ET

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro has tested positive for the coronavirus after spending months flouting public health guidelines and dismissing the threat posed by a pandemic that has killed more than half a million people worldwide.

Bolsonaro, 65, said Monday that he had been tested for the virus and that an exam had showed his lungs were “clean.” Bolsonaro told reporters Tuesday that his test results came back positive, CNN Brazil reported.

The Brazilian president has long been dismissive of the virus even as hundreds of thousands of people in his country have tested positive.

Bolsonaro was tested at least three times for the virus in March after meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, and all those tests came back negative. More than 1.6 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Brazil, and at least 65,000 people have died there. Only the U.S. has more cases and more deaths.

— Nick Visser

Quarantined Melbourne Tower Block Residents Demand Relief — 7/07/20, 11:10 a.m. ET

Thousands of residents in nine public housing towers in Melbourne, Australia, say they are struggling to obtain food and other support from the government after being placed on “hard lockdown.”

Under the hastily imposed restrictions, the harshest in the country so far, the buildings’ 3,000 residents, many from low-income, immigrant communities, have been banned from leaving their homes for any reason.

The draconian measures were put in place on Saturday when more than 500 armed police officers surrounded the towers in Australia’s second largest city, after a number of residents tested positive for the coronavirus. 

After largely bringing the coronavirus pandemic under control, the virus has surged back in Australia in recent days, forcing authorities to reimpose a six-week stay-at-home order in Melbourne and one regional area in the state of Victoria.

On Tuesday, 199 new cases were reported nationally, the biggest one-day rise since early April. Victoria was responsible for 191 of those cases — many of them in Melbourne.

The state line between New South Wales and Victoria is due to close at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday for the first time in 100 years.

— James Martin

Spanish Antibody Study Casts Doubt Over Herd Immunity  — 7/7/20, 6:30 a.m. ET

Results from a nationwide antibody study show just 5.2% of Spain’s population has been exposed to the coronavirus, health officials said Monday.

The study, which tested nearly 70,000 people across Spain three times over the past three months, found the virus’ prevalence had not altered significantly since preliminary results were published in May.

The results show that so-called herd immunity is unlikely even in hardest-hit countries, with 70% to 90% of a population needing to be immune from an illness.

The study also suggested that immunity to the virus can be short-lived, with 14% of participants who tested positive for antibodies in the first stage subsequently testing negative in the last stage.

“Immunity can be incomplete, it can be transitory, it can last for just a short time and then disappear,” said Dr. Raquel Yotti, director of Spain’s Carlos III Health Institute, which co-led the study.

HuffPost Spain reported (in Spanish) that the loss of antibodies was more frequent in people who had not had any symptoms. The data also showed that among healthcare workers the prevalence rate of antibodies was 10%.

Spain has gradually lifted restrictions from May as the death rate has fallen, however the regions of Galicia and Catalonia imposed local lockdowns over the weekend, isolating some 270,000 people after small-scale outbreaks were detected.

— James Martin

As COVID-19 Cases Surge, Fauci Says U.S. Is Still ‘Knee-Deep’ In First Wave — 7/6/20, 10:00 p.m.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the U.S., said Monday that the country is in a “serious situation” that needs immediate attention as the coronavirus surges in certain parts of the country.

During a live interview streamed on Facebook, Fauci noted that the U.S. is “still knee-deep in the first wave” of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I would say this would not be considered a wave. It was a surge, or resurgence of infections superimposed upon a baseline ... that really never got down to where we wanted to go,” Fauci told National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins.

“If you look at the graphs from Europe — Europe, the European Union as an entity, it went up, and then came down to baseline,” he added.

“We went up, never came down to baseline, and now we’re surging back up. So it’s a serious situation that we have to address immediately.”

— Carla Russo

Atlanta Mayor Tests Positive For Coronavirus After July 4th Weekend 7/6/20, 7:15 p.m.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced Monday that she had tested positive for COVID-19. “COVID-19 has literally hit home,” she tweeted Monday evening. “I have had NO symptoms and have tested positive.”

Her infection comes at a time when Georgia is experiencing an increase in coronavirus cases across the state. Last week, Georgia had its highest number of COVID-19 cases reported in a single day, hitting more than 3,000 cases within a 24-hour period between July 1 and July 2.

Fulton County, which includes Atlanta, has reported more than 8,800 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic.

— Carla Russo

West Virginia To Require Face Coverings Indoors ― 7/6/20, 1:05 p.m. ET

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) said Monday that he planned to sign an executive order requiring everyone over the age of 9 to wear a mask indoors when social distancing is not possible. He said the order would go into effect at midnight.

Justice said positive cases in the state now exceed 3%.

“If we don’t do this and do this now, we’re going to be in a world of hurt,” he said.

— Paige Lavender

Miami-Dade County Rolls Back Business Openings Amid COVID-19 Surge ― 7/6/20, 11:30 a.m. ET

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez on Monday reversed course and signed an emergency order closing restaurants (except for takeout and delivery), ballrooms, banquet facilities, party venues, gyms and short-term rentals.

For now, Giménez is leaving outdoor activities untouched. But he vowed to close beaches and pools “if we see crowding and people not following the public health rules,” including wearing masks and maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from other people.

“We are still tracking the spike in the number of cases involving 18- to 34-year-olds that began in mid-June,” Giménez said, “which the County’s medical experts say was caused by a number of factors, including young people going to congested places — indoors and outside — without taking precautions such as wearing masks and practicing social distancing.”

The order goes into effect Wednesday.

― Ryan Grenoble

Vast Majority ‘Do The Right Thing’ As UK Pubs Reopen After 15 Weeks — 7/06/20, 7:50 a.m. ET

Most people who went out on so-called Super Saturday as coronavirus restrictions were eased in England “acted responsibly,” the U.K. health secretary has said.

Matt Hancock said most people were “doing the right thing” as pubs, restaurants, cafes and other venues reopened for the first time in three months, marking a major milestone in Britain’s efforts to restart the economy.

But it came after the chairman of the Police Federation said it was “crystal clear” that drunk people are unable to follow the 1 meter-plus social distancing rules amid images of streets packed with drinkers in Soho, London.

Many establishments chose to remain closed Saturday, and those that did open offered customers a very different pub experience, with staff decked out in gloves and face masks, plastic screens installed above bars and tables spaced at least one meter apart.

Some pubs required patrons to book tables in advance and order drinks via a smartphone app, in order to control crowds and reduce face-to-face contact with staff.

The death toll in Britain from confirmed COVID-19 cases rose by 22 to 44,220 on Sunday, the third-highest in the world. 

Read more here.

— James Martin

Australia Closes Key State Border For First Time In 100 Years — 7/06/20, 7:05 a.m. ET

The border between Australia’s two most populous states will close from Tuesday for an indefinite period after a fresh spike in coronavirus cases.

The decision marks the first time the border between Victoria and New South Wales has been shut in 100 years, with officials last blocking movement between the two states in 1919 during the Spanish flu pandemic.

The number of COVID-19 cases in the Victorian capital Melbourne has surged in recent days, prompting authorities to enforce strict social distancing orders in 30 suburbs and put nine public housing towers into lockdown.

Victoria reported 127 new COVID-19 infections overnight, its biggest one-day spike since the pandemic began. It also reported one death, the first nationally in more than two weeks, taking the country’s total tally to 105. 

Read more here.

— James Martin 

Egypt Arrests Doctors, Journalists Who Criticize President’s Handling Of Outbreak — 7/6/2020, 6 a.m. ET

At least 10 doctors and six journalists have been arrested over criticism of the Egyptian government’s handling of the outbreak since the coronavirus first hit Egypt in February, the Associated Press reports. Other health workers say they have been told to keep quiet or face punishment.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi has described critics of the government’s handling of the crisis as “enemies of the state.” As of Monday, Egypt has recorded 76,253 infections, including 3,343 deaths — the highest death toll in the Arab world. 

Read more here.

— Liza Hearon

Scientists Will Urge WHO To Take Airborne Spread Of Virus More Seriously — 7/6/2020, 3:40 a.m. ET

A group of 239 scientists plans to urge the World Health Organization to more seriously consider the threat that the novel coronavirus may be spread by microscopic particles in the air, The New York Times reported this weekend.

In an open letter set to be published later this week, the international coalition will warn of growing evidence that tiny aerosols can linger in the air indoors and result in new infections. WHO has maintained that the virus spreads mainly through larger respiratory droplets or contact and has primarily urged people to wash their hands and socially distance to prevent infection.

If airborne transmissions present a significant threat, it could dramatically impact safety guidelines, meaning people could need to wear masks inside areas with poor ventilation among other measures.

— Nick Visser

At Least 121 University Of Washington Students Test Positive In ‘Greek Row’ Outbreak — 7/6/2020, 3:30 a.m. ET

Seattle’s University of Washington said this weekend at least 121 students that live in fraternity houses near the college have tested positive for the coronavirus in what officials described as a “Greek Row outbreak.”

The surge in cases near the university was first announced on June 30. Residents of at least 15 of the school’s 25 fraternity houses have tested positive and the system houses about 1,000 students. The houses are independent organizations and are not run by the school.

The University of Washington plans to reopen by the end of September using a hybrid model of teaching, but the outbreak reflects the difficulty some schools may have as the pandemic continues to surge around the nation.

— Nick Visser

New Jersey Governor Calls For Nationwide Mask Requirement — 7/5/20, 2:47 p,m. ET

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) suggested that a nationwide mask requirement be enacted as people emerge from their homes during the summer months.

“It’s become almost not even debatable,” Murphy told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “If you’re leaving your house, put on a mask. I think it ought to be a national ... requirement.”

New Jersey is in its second stage of reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic. In June, the state began allowing restaurants to resume outdoor dining and stores to open again. In July, casinos were allowed to open, and gyms were allowed to operate with outdoor spaces or by appointments indoors. All people are required to wear masks when shopping indoors.

“This thing is lethal. New Jersey’s paid an enormous price,” Murphy said of the coronavirus outbreak in the state. “We went through hell. We cannot go through hell again. We need a national strategy right now, and masking has to be at the core of that.”

The governor reported 303 new coronavirus cases in the state and 25 additional deaths. So far, New Jersey has seen 173,033 cases since the start of the pandemic.

—  Carla Russo

For more on the pandemic, go here.

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