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Live Coronavirus Updates: U.S. Sets Case Record

Record cases across the U.S. as the country heads into the July 4 weekend.

The United States reported nearly 50,000 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the fifth single-day case record in eight days, as the nation staggers toward a holiday weekend burdened by a pandemic that is only growing worse.

In the face of cases reaching disheartening new highs, health officials around the country have urged Americans to scale back their holiday plans.

Texas reached more than 8,000 new infections, surpassing its previous daily record set on Tuesday. Arizona added more than 4,700 cases, just under its single-day record set a day earlier. In Georgia, there were more than 2,300 new cases. Florida had more than 6,500.

In Arizona, which Mr. Trump visited in May and praised for its reopening plans, Gov. Doug Ducey decided this week to close the state’s water parks and to order bars, gyms and movie theaters to close for 30 days. On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence visited Arizona to discuss the crisis.

Mr. Pence told Mr. Ducey that the federal government would help the state with a request for 500 additional public health personnel by mobilizing doctors, nurses and technical personnel.

In Nebraska, state leaders suggested that holiday cookout hosts keep guest lists to make contact tracing easier if there were an outbreak. The Oregon Health Authority warned residents that “the safest choice this holiday is to celebrate at home.” And in Los Angeles County, Calif., where 10,000 new cases have been announced since last Friday, the health department ordered beaches closed and fireworks shows canceled.

Elsewhere, the pleas were similar: Skip the party. Stay home. Don’t make a bad situation worse.

Employers added 4.8 million jobs last month, the Labor Department said Thursday, the second month in a row that hiring picked up following a calamitous loss of more than 20 million jobs in April.

The unemployment rate was 11.1 percent.

But the survey was compiled in mid-June, before coronavirus cases began to surge in Arizona, Florida and several other states. More recent data, also released by the Labor Department on Thursday, showed that 1.4 million Americans filed new claims for state unemployment benefits last week, and more than 800,000 filed for benefits under the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.

Economists fear that layoffs could accelerate now that California, Texas and other states have begun ordering some businesses to close again.

“We’re in a very deep hole, and we just set ourselves back again,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at the accounting firm Grant Thornton. “It’s difficult to climb out of that hole.”

Total employment has grown the past two months because companies have begun recalling temporarily laid-off workers. But layoffs have continued as the economic effects of the pandemic ripple through the economy.

Another looming threat: the expiration of government assistance, in particular the enhanced unemployment benefits providing an extra $600 per week to laid-off workers. Those benefits are set to sunset at the end of this month.

Congress needs to spend more money, soon, to continue to bridge the American economy through its coronavirus recession. But there is little consensus on what that next aid package will look like and when it will arrive.

The pandemic has turned the world into a giant laboratory of competing systems, each with its own way of fighting the virus and mitigating its economic damage. The contrast between Europe and the United States has been particularly stark.

After the devastating financial crisis of 2008, the United States recovered much faster than Europe, which suffered a double-dip recession. This time, many economists say Europe may have the edge.

Much of Europe resorted to strict lockdowns that mostly beat back the virus but capsized economies. In the United States, President Trump has prioritized getting the economy moving even as infections multiply.

The main reason America did well after the financial crisis was the rapid response of the government and the flexible nature of the American economy, which was quick to fire workers but also to hire them again. Europe, with built-in social insurance, tries to keep workers from layoffs through subsidies to employers, making it harder to fire workers and more expensive to rehire them.

But this is a different kind of collapse, a mandated shutdown in response to a pandemic, driving down both supply and demand simultaneously. And that difference creates the possibility that the European response, freezing the economy in place, might work better this time.

“It’s an important debate,” said Jean Pisani-Ferry, a senior economist with Bruegel in Brussels and the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. “This isn’t a normal recession, and there’s a lot you don’t know, especially if the virus comes back.”

A groom felt ill at his wedding. Days later, he was dead. Soon, at least 100 guests had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Now, Indian officials have opened an investigation into the mid-June gathering, which some experts are calling a superspreader event, attended by more than 300 guests in the city of Patna, in the northeastern state of Bihar, according to relatives who were there.

The groom, a software engineer living near New Delhi, had returned to his home state to prepare for the ceremony, telling friends it would be remembered forever for taking place during the pandemic.

But shortly before the ceremony, the groom, whose name is being withheld by the police pending charges against members of his family, began to vomit and complained of a headache, according to a relative who spoke on condition of anonymity because she feared being ostracized. The relative said the groom’s family took him to a hospital, but that his parents insisted on continuing with the wedding. He was not tested for the coronavirus, the relative said.

A few days after the wedding, Sri Kumar Ravi, the district magistrate in Patna, said he received an anonymous call: The groom had died, possibly from Covid-19, and his parents had cremated his body.

Through an intermediary, the groom’s parents declined to comment. The Wire, an Indian news outlet, quoted the groom’s father as denying that his son had been sick before the wedding. But he said members of his family, including him, had recently tested positive for the virus.

Mr. Ravi likened the wedding to “forcing your guests into mass suicide,” since there was evidence to suggest the groom knew he was sick before the ceremony but proceeded anyway.

Nearly six weeks after Tokyo lifted a coronavirus-related state of emergency and declared the virus contained in the Japanese capital, new cases spiked to 107 on Thursday, up from 67 just a day earlier and the highest level since May 2.

Cases had been rising over the last week, with a high concentration detected in the city’s nightlife districts.

In a news conference on Thursday, Yuriko Koike, the Tokyo governor, said that people in their 20s and 30s accounted for 70 percent of the cases and that many were asymptomatic.

Ms. Koike said she would not ask businesses to close but encouraged the public to take precautions.

Dr. Norio Ohmagari, director of the Disease Control and Prevention Center at the National Center for Global Health and Medicine, said the average daily number of cases, whose route of infection could not be traced, had more than doubled in the last week.

“It indicates the possibility that community transmission could be spreading,” he said.

Elsewhere in the world:

  • New Zealand’s health minister, David Clark, resigned on Thursday, saying that his missteps during the pandemic had become a distraction for the government. He had been criticized for traveling during a national lockdown and mishandling the quarantine of visitors at the border.

  • An outbreak at the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia — and the kingdom more broadly — prompted fears over the safety of diplomats, leading the State Department to allow voluntary departures.

  • The pandemic crushed the tourism industry in Venice and other over-visited cities. But many see this as an opportunity to rethink a “tourism monoculture.”

  • In recent weeks, Brazil has emerged as one of the world’s most severe coronavirus hot spots, second only to the United States. With Brazil’s caseload ballooning, Ernesto Londoño, the Brazil bureau chief for The New York Times, explains what went wrong.

Some conservatives and libertarians have made opposition to masks a political cause, but, as cases surge, a growing number of Republican governors and others in their party are trying to send a different message.

Vice President Mike Pence has abruptly started wearing and recommending masks. Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming shared a photograph on Twitter of her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, wearing a cowboy hat and pale blue surgical mask, adding the hashtag “#realmenwearmasks.”

Some Republicans have shunned masks because President Trump has declined to wear them and stressed that doing so was voluntary. “I don’t think I’m going to be doing it,” he said in April.

But on Wednesday, Mr. Trump spoke less skeptically about masks. Asked whether Americans should be required to wear them, he said he wasn’t sure they should be mandatory but noted: “I’m all for masks. I think masks are good. I would wear one if I were in a group of people and I was close.”

In an interview with Fox Business Network, Mr. Trump said he had worn a mask before, but asserted that it was usually not necessary, because he and anyone allowed near him were regularly tested. “But if I were in a tight situation with people, I would, absolutely,” he said.

Mr. Trump added that he “sort of liked” the way he looked in a mask. “It was a dark black mask,” he said, “and I thought it looked OK. I looked like the Lone Ranger.”

Mr. Trump also said that he believed the virus was “going to sort of just disappear,” even as cases rise rapidly across the nation.

On Monday, Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia posted a selfie wearing a mask decorated with the University of Georgia’s bulldog mascot. “Wear your mask, Georgia — and go Dawgs!” he wrote on Twitter. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who regularly wears a mask in public, said in Washington this week that there must be “no stigma” about wearing masks.

The new entreaties follow months of misinformation, debate and confusion about wearing masks. Early in the pandemic, government officials instructed Americans not to buy or wear them. In April, they revised that guidance, advising that cloth face coverings were recommended.

Most of the public does not appear to have an aversion to masks. In a New York Times/Siena College poll published last week, 54 percent of people said they always wear a mask when they expect to be in proximity to other people, while 22 percent said they usually wear a mask.

Elsewhere in the United States:

  • Pennsylvania on Wednesday joined the growing list of states that require people to wear masks whenever they leave home.

  • Officials rushing to contain a coronavirus cluster tied to a party in a New York City suburb used an unusual legal strategy: issuing subpoenas to partygoers.

  • Congress is investigating about a dozen medical laboratories and emergency rooms for potential price gouging involving virus tests. In letters on Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee asked 11 health care providers, including two laboratories that were the subjects of New York Times articles, to submit information on testing prices.

  • McDonald’s announced a three-week pause in its plans to resume dine-in service at thousands of locations across the United States.

  • Apple said it would close 30 more of its stores in seven states, including California, Georgia and Nevada, adding to the 16 stores already closed around the country. Apple has 271 stores in the United States.

Ring Mayar spends all day knocking on doors in the western suburbs of Melbourne, asking residents if they have a cough, a fever or chills.

Even if they do not, he encourages them to get tested for the coronavirus, as the authorities race to catch up with a string of outbreaks that is threatening to recast Australia’s success story in controlling the virus.

The spike in infections — Victoria reported 77 new cases Thursday, the most since March — has reinforced a dark truth about the outsize impact of the virus on vulnerable communities. In these places, people often must venture out for jobs that put them at risk of contracting the virus, and communication by the authorities in residents’ native languages can be patchy.

“It’s quite daunting,” said Mr. Mayar, the president of the South Sudanese Community Association in the state of Victoria, who has been volunteering in one of the largely immigrant communities where cases are surging.

As it has elsewhere in the world, the virus found a hole in Australia’s system: It spread in part because of the sharing of a cigarette lighter among security guards working at a hotel where returning international travelers are being quarantined.

When the bars in Michigan reopened in June, Tony Hild forgot about face masks, social distancing and caution and headed out to Harper’s, a popular spot in the college town of East Lansing. There was a line out the door. Inside were 200 people dancing, drinking and shouting over the music.

“It was just so crowded, and I’m like, ‘This is going against everything I’m told not to do,’” Mr. Hild, 23, a college student, said. “But I didn’t think I was going to get it.”

As people eager for a night out flood back into public after months of confinement, public health experts say that college-town bars, nightclubs and corner taverns are becoming dangerous new hot spots for the coronavirus, seeding infections in thousands of mostly young adults and adding to surging cases nationwide.

Louisiana health officials tied 100 coronavirus cases to bars in Baton Rouge. Minnesota has traced 328 recent cases to bars across the state.

And in East Lansing, home to Michigan State University, more than 100 cases have been linked to Harper’s Restaurant and Brew Pub, Mr. Hild included. He came down with a sore throat, chest pains and fatigue, and by then, more than a week later, he had already visited four other restaurants.

“I definitely regret doing it,” he said.

Public health experts say that the long nights, lack of inhibitions and shoulder-to-shoulder confines inside so many bars — a source of community and relaxation in normal times — now make them ideal breeding grounds for the coronavirus.

Reporting was contributed by Livia Albeck-Ripka, Julie Bosman, Ben Casselman, Steven Erlanger, Richard Fausset, Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, Thomas Fuller, Jenny Gross, Jack Healy, Makiko Inoue, Isabella Kwai, Ernesto Londoño, Mark Mazzetti, Jesse McKinley, Anna Momigliano, Monika Pronczuk, Motoko Rich, Nelson D. Schwartz, Dionne Searcey, Ed Shanahan, Mitch Smith, Sabrina Tavernise, Hisako Ueno, Caryn A. Wilson, Edward Wong and Sameer Yasir.




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