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Coronavirus Live Updates: U.S. Nears 4 Million Cases

2020-07-23 12:40:08

California and Texas are among the states setting new daily records.

California recorded new highs in both coronavirus deaths and total number of cases on Wednesday, as troubling data emerged across the United States and more than 1,100 deaths were reported for the second consecutive day.

Missouri, North Dakota and West Virginia recorded their highest daily case numbers on Wednesday, while Alabama, Idaho and Texas reported daily death records, according to a New York Times database.

Nationwide, 69,707 new virus cases were reported on Wednesday. Total confirmed cases in the United States were expected to pass 4 million on Thursday.

And 59,628 people were being treated at hospitals on Wednesday, according to the Covid Tracking Project. That is near the peak of 59,940 on April 15, when the center of the outbreak was New York. Experts have warned that the data likely undercounts both cases and deaths.

Months ago, the urgency of the virus outbreak was concentrated in the New York City area. Now, the scale of the crisis is dispersed and harder to grasp.

“There’s this pandemic fatigue,” said Thomas Tsai, an assistant professor of health policy at Harvard University. “All eyes were on New York. Houston is New York now. Miami is New York now. Phoenix is New York now. We need that shared collective urgency.”

After more than three months of slow declines, the number of people filing new claims for state unemployment benefits in the United States rose last week. The Labor Department reported Thursday another 1.4 million new state applications.

The uptick comes just days before an extra $600-a-week jobless benefit is set to expire.

An additional 975,000 claims were filed by freelancers, part-time workers and others who do not qualify for regular state jobless aid but are eligible for benefits under an emergency federal program, the Labor Department announced. Unlike the state figures, that number is not seasonally adjusted.

The stubbornly high rate of new weekly claims more than four months into the pandemic “suggests that the nature of the downturn has changed from early on,” said Ernie Tedeschi, a policy economist at Evercore ISI. It may mean that businesses are shutting down again as cases surge in some places, or that funds from emergency small business loans through the Paycheck Protection Program are running out, he said — or worse, something more fundamental.

“It might be that businesses are running through their first line of credit,” he said, “and now they’re facing the music of an economy that has recovered a little bit but nearly enough.”

During the worst of the Great Recession in 2009-9, the weekly number of claims never exceeded 700,000. Since mid-March, new state unemployment applications have yet to fall below a million.

Congressional lawmakers and the White House are negotiating a roughly $1 trillion coronavirus relief package that would include extending some benefits for unemployed workers.

For workers who cobble together employment, the pandemic has exposed deep holes in the safety net.

China’s National Health Commission on Thursday issued new guidelines for the country’s meat processors, citing outbreaks at plants in the United States, Germany and Britain, as well as the higher risks of transmission in the closed, crowded and low-temperature environments at such facilities.

All imported meat must be certified as having passed nucleic acid tests that check for the coronavirus before being processed in the country, according to the guidelines. And five environmental samples must be collected for those tests daily from meat-processing facilities in medium- and high-risk regions. In low-risk areas, such tests should be conducted at least once a week.

The guidelines were released after China has recently halted imports from a range of overseas suppliers. A worker at a seafood processing plant in the northeastern city of Dalian tested positive for the virus on Wednesday, Chinese state media reported.

China has already suspended imports from major meat producers such as Germany’s Tönnies and American meat giant Tyson. And it banned imports from three Ecuadorean companies after the coronavirus was detected on a container and on packages of frozen shrimp from Ecuador.

China’s health authorities on Thursday recorded 22 new confirmed cases in the previous day, including 18 cases in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.

Two cafeterias in the White House complex close after an employee tests positive.

The White House notified employees about measures in an email and said that there was no need for them to self-quarantine, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly about the situation.

In May, a military aide who had contact with President Trump tested positive for the virus, as did Katie Miller, the press secretary for Vice President Mike Pence.

The surge of coronavirus cases could be slowed if the world’s poorest people receive a temporary basic income, enabling them to stay at home, according to a United Nations report released on Thursday.

The pandemic is spreading by more than 1.5 million new virus cases a week, but in some places it may not be possible for workers to take measures like isolating. In developing countries, seven out of 10 workers can’t earn money if they are at home, according to the United Nations Development Program report, “Temporary Basic Income: Protecting Poor and Vulnerable People in Developing Countries.”

It would cost at least $199 billion a month to provide fixed-term basic income to 2.7 billion people in 132 developing countries, the report said, allowing these people to pay for their food, and health and education expenses.

Achim Steiner, administrator of the United Nations Development Program, said the introduction of a temporary basic income might have seemed impossible a few months ago, but “unprecedented times call for unprecedented social and economic measures.”

“Bailouts and recovery plans cannot only focus on big markets and big business,” he said in a statement.

Adding that up to 100 million more people have so far been forced into extreme poverty this year, the report suggested that countries could pay for this measure by repurposing the funds they would use to service their debt.

A convent in Michigan has lost 13 sisters to the virus, a dozen of them in just one month.

The deaths cut deep in the communities where the sisters worked in schools, libraries and the medical field, the order said in a statement.

The women were all members of the Felician congregation for at least 50 years, according to obituaries provided by Suzanne English, executive director for mission advancement for sisters.

For example, Sister Celine Marie Lesinski, who died at 92, worked for 55 years in education, including 27 years as a librarian. And a former director of nursing, Sister Victoria Marie Indyk, who died at 69, was a nursing professor at Madonna University and was known for leading nurses on mission trips to support the Felician sisters’ mission in Haiti.

Reporting was contributed by Emily Cochrane, Patricia Cohen, Keith Collins, Matthew Conlen, Nicholas Fandos, Manny Fernandez, Lazaro Gamio, Matthew Goldstein, J. David Goodman, Maggie Haberman, Christine Hauser, Tyler Kepner, Iliana Magra, Sarah Mervosh, Katie Rogers, Jim Tankersley, Daniel Victor, Neil Vigdor, Allyson Waller and Elaine Yu.


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