New US infections hit single-day record; Biden swears off campaign rallies

New US infections hit single-day record; Biden swears off campaign rallies

Fauci says US could see 100,000 new daily cases as pandemic rages in south and west; Europe reopens its borders, but not to America, Brazil, Russia or Israel

People wait in line at a free COVID-19 testing site provided by United Memorial Medical Center, at the Mexican Consulate in Houston, Texas, June 28, 2020. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
People wait in line at a free COVID-19 testing site provided by United Memorial Medical Center, at the Mexican Consulate in Houston, Texas, June 28, 2020. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

US Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said Tuesday he will not hold campaign rallies because of the coronavirus pandemic as the European Union reopened its borders to visitors from 15 countries — but not the virus-stricken US, Brazil, Russia and Israel.

Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious diseases expert, warned that the United States could see 100,000 new COVID-19 cases a day and several US states imposed 14-day quarantines on travelers from other states.

The US registered over 47,000 new cases of coronavirus over the past 24 hours, the highest single day tally since the pandemic began.

Biden, 77, delivered a blistering critique of his November opponent Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic, saying the Republican president had “failed” the country.

The former vice president said he will not hold rallies during the outbreak, a move that is in stark contrast with Trump, who has already held large campaign gatherings.

“This is the most unusual campaign I think in modern history,” Biden said. “I’m going to follow the doc’s orders — not just for me but for the country — and that means that I am not going to be holding rallies.”

The US recorded 1,199 fatalities from the coronavirus over the past 24 hours, the Johns Hopkins University tally showed Tuesday.

The number of daily American deaths had not exceeded 1,000 since June 10. The country has suffered over 127,000 deaths overall during the pandemic, as of Tuesday evening. The scourge has killed over 509,000 people worldwide.

Due to increased death tolls and case numbers, many US states, particularly in the south and west, have had to pause their reopening processes.

On Tuesday, the state of Texas broke its daily record, reporting 6,975 new cases of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, in California, more than a thousand inmates have tested positive for coronavirus in the state’s oldest prison, San Quentin, according to local authorities.

Like other senior US officials, Fauci called on Americans, particularly young people, to cover their faces and avoid crowds in order to stem the pandemic.

In Brussels, the EU finalized the list of countries whose health situation was deemed safe enough to allow residents to enter the bloc starting on July 1.

The United States was notably excluded, along with Russia, Brazil and Israel.

A healthcare professional takes a sample from a child at a United Memorial Medical Center COVID-19 testing site in Houston, Texas, June 26, 2020. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Those on the list are Algeria, Australia, Canada, Japan, Georgia, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

Travelers from China, where the virus first emerged late last year, will be allowed on the condition that Beijing reciprocates and opens the door to EU residents.

The border relaxation, to be reviewed in two weeks and left to member states to implement, is a bid to help rescue the continent’s battered tourism sector, which has been choked by a ban on non-essential travel in place since mid-March.

But with some 10.3 million known infections worldwide, the pandemic is “not even close to being over,” the World Health Organization has warned.

‘Very disturbing’

In Washington, Fauci, a member of Trump’s coronavirus task force, warned Congress that new cases could more than double to 100,000 per day if steps are not taken to suppress the pandemic.

“Clearly we are not in total control right now,” he said. “I would not be surprised if it goes up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around.”

Alarming spikes in cases in Texas and Florida are driving the national total of new cases to over 40,000 per day, and they need to be tamped down quickly to avoid dangerous surges elsewhere in the country, Fauci stressed.

Asked about a final death toll, Fauci declined to speculate but said it would be a “very disturbing” number.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing, June 30, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Al Drago – Pool/Getty Images/AFP)

Senator Lamar Alexander, a Republican who chairs the Senate panel, urged Trump to end the politicization of mask-wearing by putting on one himself.

“The president has plenty of admirers, they would follow his lead,” Alexander said. “It would help end this political debate.”

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut on Tuesday doubled to 16 the number of US states whose residents must go into quarantine for 14 days if they visit any of the northeastern states.

The Pan American Health Organization warned meanwhile that the coronavirus death toll in Latin America and the Caribbean could top 400,000 by October without stricter public health measures.

That would represent a quadrupling of the fatal cases of COVID-19 in the region.

The number of infections has stabilized in many European nations but the lifting of lockdown measures is still touch-and-go as governments try to reboot economies facing historic recessions.

‘Infrastructure revolution’

European aircraft maker Airbus said it is planning to cut around 15,000 jobs worldwide, 11 percent of its total workforce.

Britain, home to Europe’s deadliest outbreak, has already seen its sharpest quarterly contraction in 40 years, shrinking 2.2% from January-March.

The worst is yet to come, with economists predicting a double-digit slump in output during the second quarter, tipping Britain into a technical recession.

A couple walk their dogs wearing personal protective equipment in London, June 30, 2020. Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP)

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed Tuesday to deliver a “infrastructure revolution” to help the country out of the economic downturn.

In the meantime, his government is employing a “whack-a-mole” strategy of targeted lockdowns.

While the government plans to reopen pubs, restaurants and hairdressers on July 4, schools and non-essential shops in Leicester, central England, have been ordered to close after a localized outbreak.

Germany, which has been praised for its handling of COVID-19, also saw its North Rhine-Westphalia state extend a lockdown on a district hit hard by a slaughterhouse outbreak.

And in Australia, a new spike in cases in parts of Melbourne spurred new stay-at-home measures affecting some 300,000 people.

Around the world, sporting events continued to fall off the calendar, including the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations and the remainder of this year’s World Rugby Sevens Series.

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