Covid-19 Live Updates: U.S. Hits 7 Million Cases, Less Than a Month After Reaching 6 Million
More than seven million people in the United States have now been infected by the coronavirus.
Though the milestone, reached on Thursday according to a New York Times database, is sobering, it comes as infections in much of the country have in fact been slowing.
The United States has been averaging about 41,500 cases daily, down from the pandemic’s midsummer peak, though states in the Midwest and West are seeing case numbers rise.
In California, officials recorded their 800,000th case since the start of the pandemic. That is more than any other state, but the figure is cumulative, and does not capture the state’s current situation.
With health officials in California testing enough of the population to contain the spread of the virus, the state is reporting a relatively low number of new cases a day, according to the Times database.
More broadly, California the largest state in the country, has had significantly fewer virus cases per capita than other states like Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. California currently ranks 36th among states and territories in known new cases per capita over the past seven days, and 26th in the total number of known cases per capita since the start of the pandemic.
It was less than a month ago that the United States reached six million cases, on Aug. 30. It had taken more than three months for the country to record its first million.
The story of how California came to lead the country in the total number of cases goes back to the spring and summer months, when new cases surged across the Sun Belt states. New cases in California peaked at the end of July when the seven-day average doubled from what it was a month earlier.
It was a far cry from the early days of the pandemic, when most virus cases were in the Northeast and Washington State, and California emerged as a national role model when it became the first state to issue a stay-at-home order.
But the number of cases there began to climb when that order was lifted.
Like health officials in many Sun Belt states, the authorities in California attributed the spike to a premature easing of restrictions. In early July, when virus-related hospitalizations in California were up by more than 50 percent over a two-week period, Gov. Gavin Newsom halted reopening plans and ordered bars and indoor dining closed for most residents.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and top Democrats on Thursday moved forward with the development of a roughly $2.4 trillion stimulus bill that would provide pandemic aid to American families, restaurants and airlines, amid growing pressure from moderates who demanded additional action before lawmakers leave Washington next week to campaign for re-election.
The move to present a new package was the first sign of movement in negotiations between Democrats and the White House that have been stalled since early August, and it came as Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, said he and Ms. Pelosi had agreed to revive those talks. But it was far from clear that the measure Democrats had in mind, whose cost is about $1 trillion more than the Trump administration has signaled it could accept, would lead to a deal.
Ms. Pelosi privately told top Democrats that the House could vote on it anyway, which would allow anxious Democrats who have been quietly agitating for more action on a stimulus measure to at least register their support for additional relief. Earlier in the week, she instructed lawmakers to begin work, a move previously reported by Politico.
“We are still striving for an agreement,” Ms. Pelosi told top Democrats in a private meeting on Thursday, according to a person familiar with the remarks who disclosed them on the condition of anonymity. “If necessary, we can formalize the request by voting on it on the House floor.”
The measure being drafted is substantially smaller than the $3.4 trillion package the House approved in May, but it is expected to contain some of the same elements, as well as additional funding for needs Ms. Pelosi said had emerged in recent months.
With Myanmar’s coronavirus cases skyrocketing and its largest city mostly under lockdown, uncertainty is brewing over the potential effects on both the country’s urban food supply and a national election that is just six weeks away.
As of mid-August, the nation of 54 million people had reported only a few hundred cases. But since then, the national caseload has multiplied quickly, reaching 8,515 as of Friday. More than 1,000 infections were reported on Thursday alone.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, has one of the world’s lowest testing rates, which suggests that the virus had been spreading undetected for weeks.
“I think the government did not expect the scenario of rapidly rising cases,” said U Aung Thu Nyein, an independent political analyst. “They were complacent. They should have been conducting random tests since late April to find the undetected cases.”
All domestic flights have been grounded, and about 50,000 people are in preventive quarantine. But the country’s health care system is woefully unprepared to handle the pandemic.
The largest city, Yangon, has reported about 90 percent of the country’s new cases. About 400 patients have been ordered to stay in tents inside a local soccer stadium.
Officials are also wrestling with how to supply food to the residents of Yangon, also known as Rangoon, so they can remain at home — a tall order in a country with limited resources.
“The government wants to provide support to all seven million people in Yangon,” said U Khin Maung Lwin, a commerce ministry spokesman. “But it will take time and will be difficult in this time of rising positive cases.”
Another question is how to manage campaigning ahead of a general election that is set for Nov. 8.
The country’s civilian leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, whose political party, the National League for Democracy, won in a landslide five years ago, hopes to hold on to power.
Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi suspended public appearances earlier this month just as the official campaign season began. But it may be to her benefit that campaigning is prohibited in Yangon and Rakhine State, the site of the first major outbreak.
Democracy activists and the main opposition party have called for delaying the vote to give the candidates a chance to campaign, and to ensure that voters can cast their ballots safely.
“Despite the pandemic, the minimum norms of the democratic election process must be guaranteed,” said U Sai Ye Kyaw Swar Myint, the executive director of the People’s Alliance for Credible Elections, an independent election monitoring group. “There is a need to guarantee the rights of political parties and candidates to freely campaign and drum up support.”
Rio de Janeiro’s annual Carnival parade will be delayed next year for the first time in more than a century amid concerns about the coronavirus, the Brazilian news media reported on Thursday.
During a typical Carnival, which is held during the peak of summer in the southern Hemisphere, rambunctious street parties and performances paralyze the city of six million people.
But that could now be an epidemiologist’s nightmare in a country that has so far reported more than 4.5 million cases and nearly 140,000 deaths, and whose president, Jair Bolsonaro, announced in July that he had tested positive.
Rio de Janeiro alone has reported more than 250,000 cases, including more than 11,000 in the past week, according to a New York Times database.
The event’s key organizer, Rio’s League of Samba Schools, said on Thursday that the parade could not be held safely in February as scheduled because of the pandemic, the newspaper O Globo reported. The league said it was looking into other dates.
“We must await the coming months for definition about if there will be a vaccine or not, and when there will be immunization,” the league’s president, Jorge Castanheira, told reporters on Thursday, according to The Associated Press. “We don’t have the safety conditions to set a date.”
It was unclear whether the street parties that normally take place alongside the official parade would still occur.
Carnival was last postponed in 1912, after the death of Brazil’s foreign relations minister, The A.P. reported, but revelers still partied in the streets.
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