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Coronavirus cases top 10 million worldwide with 500,000 confirmed deaths

A health worker checks a woman's temperature as others await their turn during a free checkup in Mumbai, India.
A health worker checks the temperature of a woman as others await their turn during a free medical checkup in Mumbai, India, on June 28, 2020.
(Associated Press)

The world surpassed two sobering coronavirus milestones Sunday — 500,000 confirmed deaths, 10 million confirmed cases — and hit another high mark for daily new infections as governments that attempted reopenings continued to backtrack and warn that worse news could be yet to come.

“COVID-19 has taken a very swift and very dangerous turn in Texas over just the past few weeks,” said Gov. Greg Abbott, who allowed businesses to start reopening in early May but on Friday shut down bars and limited restaurant dining amid a spike in cases.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom rolled back reopenings of bars in seven counties, including Los Angeles. He ordered them to close immediately and urged eight other counties to issue local health orders mandating the same.

South Africa’s health minister warned that the country’s current surge of cases was expected to rapidly increase in the coming weeks and push hospitals to the limit. Health Minister Zwelini Mkhize said the current increase in infections came from people who “moved back into the workplace. It was therefore inevitable that there would be cluster outbreaks as infections spilled over from communities into places of congregation such as mines, factories, taxis and buses.”

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New clusters of cases at a Swiss nightclub and in the central English city of Leicester showed that the virus was still circulating widely in Europe, though not with the rapidly growing infection rate seen in parts of the U.S., Latin America and India.

Poland and France, meanwhile, attempted a step toward normality as they held elections that had been delayed by the virus.

Wearing mandatory masks, practicing social distancing in lines and carrying their own pens to sign voting registers, French voters cast ballots in a second round of municipal elections. Poles also wore masks and used hand sanitizer, and some in virus-stricken areas were told to mail in their ballots to avoid further contagion.

“I didn’t go and vote the first time around because I am elderly and I got scared,” said Fanny Barouh as she voted in a Paris school.

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While concern in the U.S. has focused on big states such as Texas, Arizona and Florida reporting thousands of new cases a day, rural states are also seeing infection surges, including in Kansas, where livestock outnumber people.

The U.S. handling of the outbreak has drawn concern abroad. The European Union seems almost certain to bar Americans from traveling to the bloc in the short term as it draws up new travel rules to be announced shortly.

Vice President Mike Pence called off campaign events in Florida and Arizona after surges in infections prompted worries that the U.S. had lost control of its outbreak. Pence will still travel to those states and to Texas this week to meet with their Republican governors. Those three governors have come under criticism for aggressively reopening their economies after virus lockdowns despite rising infections in their states.

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After confirmed daily infections in the U.S. reached an all-time high of 40,000 on Friday, Texas and Florida reversed course and closed down bars in their states again. Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey reversed himself and allowed cities and counties to require face coverings in public even though he hasn’t been seen wearing one.

“This is not a sprint, this is a marathon,” said Dr. Lisa Goldberg, director of the emergency department of the Tucson Medical Center in Arizona. “In fact, it’s an ultra-marathon.”

Globally, confirmed cases passed the 10-million mark and confirmed deaths topped half a million, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, with the U.S., Brazil, Russia and India having the most cases. The U.S. also has the highest virus death toll in the world at more than 125,700.

Experts say all those figures significantly undercount the true toll of the pandemic because of limited testing and missed mild cases. American government experts last week estimated the U.S. alone could have had 10 million cases.

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Workplace infection worries increased after Tyson Foods announced that 371 employees at its chicken processing plant in southwestern Missouri had tested positive.

The older you are, the greater your risk for a severe case of COVID-19, the CDC says as it expands its list of risky underlying health conditions.

In Washington state, Gov. Jay Inslee put a hold on plans to move counties to the fourth phase of his reopening plan as the number of cases continued to increase. But in Hawaii, the city of Honolulu announced that campgrounds will reopen for the first time in three months with limited permits to ensure social distancing.

Britain’s government, meanwhile, is considering whether a local lockdown is needed for the central English city of Leicester amid reports about a spike in COVID-19 cases among its Asian community. It would be Britain’s first local lockdown.

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“We have seen flare-ups across the country in recent weeks,” Home Secretary Priti Patel told the BBC on Sunday.

Polish voters were casting ballots, in person and by mail, in a presidential election that had been scheduled for May but was chaotically postponed amid the pandemic. President Andrzej Duda, a 48-year-old conservative backed by the nationalist ruling Law and Justice party, is running against 10 other candidates as he seeks a second five-year term.

Iwona Goge, 79, was encouraged to see so many people voting in Warsaw.

“It’s bad. Poland is terribly divided and people are getting discouraged,” she said.

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French voters were choosing mayors and municipal councilors in Paris and 5,000 towns and cities in a second round of elections held under strict hygiene rules. Key battlegrounds include Paris, where the next mayor will preside over the 2024 Summer Olympics. The spread of the virus in France had slowed significantly but was still expected to hurt Sunday’s turnout.

Italy was honoring its dead later Sunday with an evening Requiem concert in hard-hit Bergamo province. The ceremony in the onetime epicenter of the European outbreak came a day after Italy registered the lowest daily tally of COVID-19 deaths in nearly four months: eight.

European leaders were taking no chances in tamping down new clusters. In Germany, authorities renewed a lockdown in a western region of about 500,000 people after about 1,300 slaughterhouse workers tested positive. Swiss authorities ordered 300 people into quarantine after a “superspreader” outbreak of coronavirus at a Zurich nightclub.

The Brazilian government announced an agreement with Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to produce a promising coronavirus vaccine that is undergoing tests. Latin America’s most populous country had more than 1.3 million confirmed infections and more than 57,000 fatalities, and the number of cases continued to rise.

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In Asia, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his country must focus on bolstering the economy as it exits lockdowns, even as the number of coronavirus cases continued to climb. On Sunday, India reported an additional 19,906 confirmed cases, taking its total to nearly 529,000, with more than 16,000 deaths. The pandemic has exposed wide inequalities in India, with public hospitals being overwhelmed by virus cases while the rich get expert treatment in private hospitals.

China reported 17 new cases, all but three of them from domestic transmission in Beijing. Authorities said a campaign for testing of employees at hair and beauty salons across the city had found no positive cases so far.


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