Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 August 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus: California reintroduces restrictions amid new surge of cases

The US Senate will begin debate next week on a fifth coronavirus-response bill

A healthcare worker puts on additional personal protective equipment at a Covid-19 testing site in Houston, Texas. AFP
A healthcare worker puts on additional personal protective equipment at a Covid-19 testing site in Houston, Texas. AFP

California reintroduced coronavirus prevention rules on Monday, closing bars and indoor dining statewide while ordering churches, gyms and hair salons to shut in most places.

The state's two largest school districts, Los Angeles and San Diego, said all learning would be done online only when classes resumed in a few weeks, after a surge in infection numbers.

But US President Donald Trump on Monday repeated his demand that all schools reopen across the nation for classes in autumn.

The Trump campaign for his November re-election bid regards reopening schools as necessary for economic recovery, especially for working parents with young children.

He trails his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, in national opinion polls and in swing states that decide elections.

The US Senate will begin debate next week on a fifth coronavirus-response bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Monday, as he forecast tough negotiations with Democrats who are seeking broader aid than Republicans.

Mr McConnell added the legislation, which has not yet been unveiled, will likely be more contentious than the previous four coronavirus aid bills.

Those pumped more than $3 trillion (Dh11 trillion) into the hobbled economy with a combination of business loans, expanded unemployment benefits for workers and direct payments to families.

"I do think we'll get there and do something that needs to be done" before Congress begins an August recess, the Republican senator predicted.

Elsewhere, top infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci said the surge in US coronavirus cases was caused by the country's failure to shut down completely, then a rush to reopen too soon.

Dr Fauci urged a commitment to guidelines to curb the disease.

He called on states to follow guidelines from White House coronavirus experts for laying out phases in easing restrictions.

Dr Fauci stressed the importance of measures such as physical distancing, wearing masks, avoiding crowds and washing hands thoroughly and often.

"Those things, as simple as they are, can turn it around," he said. "I think we can do that and that's what we've got to do."

Mr Trump on Monday said he had a “good relationship” with Dr Fauci, despite repeatedly undermining the expert and his recommendations.

"I find him to be a very nice person. I don't always agree with him,” the president said.

Mr Trump has not been briefed by Dr Fauci in more than two months and has often disregarded his recommendations.

"We did not shut down entirely and that's the reason why we went up," Dr Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Stanford Medicine.

"We started to come down and then we plateaued at a level that was really quite high, about 20,000 infections a day.

"Then as we started to reopen, we're seeing the surges that we're seeing today as we speak in California, in Arizona, in Texas, in Florida and several other states."

A Covid-19 test site volunteer gives directions to people waiting in line at a walk-in coronavirus test site in Los Angeles, California. AFP
A Covid-19 test site volunteer gives directions to people waiting in line at a walk-in coronavirus test site in Los Angeles, California. AFP

Florida confirmed more than 12,600 new infections on Monday, a day after it shattered the national record for the largest single-day increase in new confirmed cases with a reported 15,299.

New York reached a milestone on Monday in its efforts against the respiratory virus. "For the first time in months, we have a 24-hour period where no one in this city died from the coronavirus," Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday.

"Let's have many more days like that."

While in Texas, virus cases rose by 2.2 per cent to 264,313 compared with the seven-day average of 4.1 per cent. The state, which has seen positive cases explode in the past month, reported another 43 deaths, the least in a week, and 5,655 new cases.

The Texas Supreme Court rejected an appeal on Monday by the state Republicans to hold their convention in-person in Houston — a gathering that was expected to draw 6,000 to the city suffering one of the worst outbreaks in the nation.

The state Republican Party sued to overturn Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s cancellation of the event.

Updated: July 14, 2020 09:39 AM

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