Fears of a new wave of coronavirus infections are spurring officials in many states, such as California, to require that people wear face coverings outside the home. But mandatory mask-wearing continues to be controversial, particularly among conservatives. The sheriff of Orange County, Calif., says he won’t enforce the statewide mandate, while Nebraska’s Republican governor has threatened to withhold funding from any communities that require masks to be worn in official buildings.
Case numbers continue to surge across the South and West — notably in Oklahoma, where President Trump plans to hold a campaign rally Saturday. Records were also reported in California, Arizona and Florida on Thursday.
Here are some significant developments:
- Nearly 8.5 million coronavirus cases have been reported worldwide, with the largest share — close to 2.2 million — in the United States. At least 451,000 people have died of covid-19 worldwide, and 116,000 of those deaths were reported in the United States.
- The CDC said Thursday that the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus could rise to as high as 145,000 by July 11, meaning as many as 26,000 Americans could die in the next few weeks.
- In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump called coronavirus testing “overrated” and suggested that people wear masks to signal their disapproval of him.
- On Friday, Britain lowered its coronavirus threat level from four to three, following advice from chief medical officers and the country’s Joint Biosecurity Center. Ethnic minorities in Britain may get priority for accessing a coronavirus vaccine, the country’s health secretary said Thursday.
- New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) said Thursday that he was considering instituting mandatory quarantines for travelers from Florida, highlighting how much things have changed since March, when Florida ordered people fleeing hard-hit New York to self-isolate for two weeks.
- A new study suggests the virus may have reached Italy earlier than scientists previously believed, finding that the first traces emerged in wastewater in several northern Italian cities as early as December 2019. Several towns around Milan confirmed their first major clusters only in late February.