Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 August 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus: Disney World to reopen as Florida cases surge

Donald Trump warns ties with China 'severely damaged' over virus

Florida confirmed its place as an emerging hot spot for Covid-19 infections in the US on Friday by reporting its second highest daily tally of cases, even as Disney prepared to reopen its flagship theme park in Orlando to the chagrin of some employees.

Florida recorded 11,433 new cases, the state health department said, more evidence that the virus is still spreading largely unchecked throughout parts of the country.

The Walt Disney World theme parks in Orlando will open to a limited number of guests on Saturday. To lower the risks, visitors and employees will have to wear masks and undergo temperature checks, and the resort will not hold parades, fireworks displays and other activities that draw crowds.

Workers at the park were among some 19,000 people who signed a petition asking Disney to delay the reopening.

The actors' union that represents 750 Walt Disney World performers has filed a grievance alleging retaliation against its members over the union's demand that they be tested for coronavirus.

“It is shameful that Disney would rather pit workers against each other in a pandemic than agree to testing of their performers,” Actors’ Equity Association’s spokesman Brandon Lorenz told CNN.

Disney opened its California-based Disney Land park earlier this week.

Meanwhile, as president Donald Trump arrived in Florida for a fundraiser – ignoring health advice about the dangers of large gatherings – he warned of frayed ties with China, where the coronavirus emerged late last year.

"(The) relationship with China has been severely damaged. They could have stopped the plague... They didn't stop it," he told reporters on board Air Force One.

The remarks reignited the president's war of words with China, which he has repeatedly accused of hiding the true extent of its own outbreak. China denies the allegations.

President Trump also signalled that a phase two trade deal with China was not a priority now and that he had "many other things" on his mind instead.

Mississippi

At least 26 politicians in the southern state of Mississippi have been diagnosed with coronavirus in the biggest known outbreak in any local government in the US.

That works out to about 1 in 7 Mississippi politicians. None of those infected had been forced to seek hospital treatment, health officials said.

Mississippi has seen a rapid rise in confirmed cases in the past two weeks, with the total hitting nearly 34,622 on Thursday, including at least 1,215 deaths.

In addition to the politicians, at least 10 people who work in the government office have been diagnosed with the virus.

“If you have been in contact with anyone in the Legislature, or if you have been in contact with any staff person that works at the Legislature, you need to get tested,” warned Republican Governor Tate Reeves, who has tested negative.

Mr Reeves has urged people to wear masks and maintain social distancing, but he has not always done those things himself.

California

California surpassed 300,000 coronavirus cases on Friday, with 7,798 new confirmed cases, according to state's Department of Public Health.

Los Angeles County accounts for nearly half of the 304,297 cases in the state.

Admissions to hospitals and intensive care units continued to soar, with more than 6,000 patients currently requiring treatment for Covid-19 symptoms.

The number of deaths recorded on Friday was 140, bringing the state’s death toll to 6,851. It is the second highest number of daily deaths reported in the state, surpassed only by Thursday's tally of 149 fatalities.

Maria Delgadillo takes a selfie with her mother on the reopening day of the Downtown Disney District in Anaheim, California. The Orange County Register via AP
Maria Delgadillo takes a selfie with her mother on the reopening day of the Downtown Disney District in Anaheim, California. The Orange County Register via AP

California announced plans for the early release of about 7 per cent of its prison population, roughly 8,000 non-violent offenders, to relieve pressure on a chronically overcrowded correctional system that’s now struggling with a sharp rise in cases.

“These actions are taken to provide for the health and safety of the incarcerated population and staff,” California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary Ralph Diaz said in the statement.

Outbreaks of the virus have exploded in prisons across the state, including in the San Francisco Bay area’s San Quentin State Prison.

More than 1,600 prisoners have been infected - almost half the population - as well as 200 staff.

Updated: July 11, 2020 03:42 AM

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