Samara Heisz/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR, JON HAWORTH and EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 545,000 people worldwide.
Over 11.8 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations’ outbreaks.
Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 3 million diagnosed cases and at least 131,666 deaths.
Here is how the news is developing Wednesday. All times Eastern:
4:55 p.m.: Site cancels Texas GOP’s in-person state convention
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Wednesday that Houston First, which operates the George R. Brown Convention Center where the Texas Republican Party planned to hold its in-person state convention next week, sent a letter to the party’s executive committee announcing it was canceling the event.
“Houston is a hotspot right now in a global pandemic, and we cannot have thousands of people gathering inside the George R. Brown,” Turner said at a news conference. “Houston looks forward to hosting conventions in the future, when it is safe and we are not endangering people by exposing them to this virus.”
“The people in the city of Houston, their public health concerns, are first and foremost paramount,” the mayor said. “Those first responders, police, fire, municipal workers, all of the individuals who will be in contact or in close proximity to this indoor gathering, simply the public health concerns outweighed anything else.”
4:20 p.m.: Rate of infection increasing in LA
Los Angeles County is experiencing a “sharp increase in community transmission,” Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director, warned Wednesday.
“Our cases are rising, the rate of infection is increasing and the number of hospitalizations are up,” Ferrer said.
Ferrer announced 65 new fatalities, bringing LA County’s death toll to 3,642.
“We are worried given the higher rates of hospitalizations that deaths may go back up,” Ferrer said.
Ferrer also commended residents for “embracing responsible actions” over the Fourth of July weekend.
Inspectors visited 82 bars over the holiday weekend and all were closed, as ordered, she said.
Inspectors went to 1,101 restaurants, where 99% complied with only providing outdoor dining, takeout and delivery, she said. Ninety-nine percent of customers wore face coverings and 98% complied with physical distancing, she said.
3:35 p.m.: Hospitalizations, ICU admissions on the rise in California
In California, hospitalizations are up 44% over the last two weeks, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday.
Admissions to ICUs are also on the rise, he said.
The governor attributed the growth to a number of factors: not enough people wearing face coverings and social distancing; increased mixing outside of households; outbreaks in prisons and jails; and outbreaks within essential workplaces.
California hospitals are only at 8% capacity, he added.
Newsom reported 11,694 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, but stressed that this number includes a backlog of data from Los Angeles County labs.
Twenty-six counties are now on California’s “monitor list,” up from 23 counties. Among those on the list are Los Angeles, San Diego and Sacramento.
3 p.m.: 91% of Arizona’s ICU beds are in use
In hard-hit Arizona, the number of coronavirus cases increased by 165% in the last week, while tests increased by just 75%, according to the state’s Department of Health.
In Arizona hospitals, 91% of ICU beds are in use.
A record 2,008 suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients visited emergency rooms in the state on Tuesday.
12:50 p.m.: NJ now requiring masks in outdoor public spaces
In New Jersey, face coverings are now required in outdoor public spaces when social distancing isn’t practicable, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Wednesday.
“Requiring masks outdoors is a step I had hoped we would not have to take,” Murphy tweeted, adding, “unfortunately, we’ve been seeing a backslide in compliance.”
Face coverings are not required while eating or drinking at an outdoor restaurant, he clarified.
Those under 2 years old are exempt.
At least 13,476 people in New Jersey have died from COVID-19.
11 a.m.: Florida has 41 hospitals with no available beds
As coronavirus cases surge in Florida, the state had 41 hospitals with no available beds as of Wednesday morning, according to the state’s Agency for Healthcare Administration.
Only 15.36% of Florida’s adult ICU beds remain available, the agency said.
This comes as Florida reports 9,989 more cases since Tuesday, bringing the state to a total of 223,793 diagnosed cases of the coronavirus.
In Miami-Dade County, which includes the city of Miami, the positivity rate has jumped to 21.9%.
Osceola County is reporting a positivity rate of 19.5%, while in Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa, the positivity rate stands at 16.4%.
Hillsborough County students and staff will be required to wear face masks when they return to school, the superintendent announced Tuesday evening.
10:25 a.m.: NYC schools to mix in-person, remote learning
When New York City restarts school for its 1.1 million public school students, classes will be a mix of in-person and remote learning, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.
Students will learn five days a week and most children will be in school two or three days each week, he said.
Schools will be deep-cleaned each night and face coverings will be required, said Richard Carranza, chancellor of the city’s Department of Education.
Fewer students will be in each class and teachers can use large spaces, like gyms and cafeterias, to teach, Carranza said.
Families can also choose remote learning full-time for their children, the mayor added.
“We have to look at this as a challenge, but one that we can also find good in,” de Blasio said.
Of those tested for the coronavirus in New York City, 1% are now testing positive, the mayor said Wednesday.
9:05 a.m.: Coronavirus crisis expanding in South and Southwest
The coronavirus crisis is expanding in the South and the Southeast, according to an internal FEMA memo obtained by ABC News.
Arizona reported 354 new cases per 100,000 population in the past week, compared to a national average of 100 per 100,000.
In California, the highest number of new cases in last three weeks were in Los Angeles, Riverside and Orange counties, representing 51.8% of new cases in the state.
Southern California and the Central Valley show high community transmission and the Bay Area is also seeing rising cases.
Florida is reporting 261 new cases per 100,000 population in the past week.
The highest number of new cases in last three weeks were in Miami-Dade, Hillsborough and Broward Counties. But those counties represented only 37.9% of new cases in the state; increases are occurring broadly across multiple counties, including Orange.
In South Carolina, positivity rates are increasing in coastal counties and urban areas.
The highest number of new cases over the last three weeks were in Charleston, Horry and Greenville Counties, representing 41.1% of new cases in the state.
In Texas, Dallas County Health and Human Services reports that 80% of those in the hospital are essential workers, including health workers, first responders and food service workers.
7:21 a.m.: Russia surpasses 700,000 cases of COVID-19
Russia confirmed 6,562 new coronavirus infections Wednesday, bringing the country’s official number of cases to 700,792.
Over the past 24 hours, 173 people have died in the country bringing the total toll to 10,667.
A total of 8,631 people recovered over the last 24 hours as well which brings the overall number of recoveries to 472,511.
Russia has the fourth highest number of confirmed cases by country in the world behind only the United States, Brazil and India, respectively. Russia has more than double the amount of cases to Peru which currently sits as the fifth worst-affected country in the world.
6:33 a.m.: Orlando Magic player tests positive for coronavirus, team official says
On the same day the Orlando Magic arrived at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to prepare for the upcoming NBA season restart, officials said one of their players will be temporally benched by the coronavirus.
Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman made the announcement during a videoconference with reporters on Tuesday. The unidentified player had previously tested positive during the NBA’s last round of testing that began on June 23.
“That player is following protocol and and we’re hoping that he can join us shortly,” Weltman said.
The Magic did not say which player had a confirmed COVID-19 case.
The league told players that it will not suspend play in the event of several positive cases, but would look into stoppage if an outbreak did occur.
5:04 a.m.: Over a dozen contract coronavirus after high school graduation
More than a dozen people who attended a high school graduation in North Carolina have reportedly contracted the novel coronavirus.
Officials have identified at least 16 people who tested positive for COVID-19 after attending Marvin Ridge High School’s graduation ceremony on June 24 in Waxhaw, North Carolina, according to a report by Charlotte ABC affiliate WSOC-TV. While some of those people may have been together at other events, officials said, the only common link they all share is the graduation.
Officials said anyone who attended the ceremony “needs to take additional precautions when interacting with individuals from our vulnerable population,” and to get tested if they or someone in their home develops symptoms.
Board members of the Union County Public Schools had voted in late May to hold in-person graduation ceremonies while practicing social distancing, despite an order from North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper that prohibits them. The Union County Sheriff’s Office said they wouldn’t interfere with the plans to carry out traditional graduations.
“As Union County Public Schools held graduations, the district provided clear health and safety guidance for graduates and their guests,” Union County Public Schools told WSOC in a statement Tuesday. “Ceremonies included social distancing protocols, and staff encouraged all attendees to wear face coverings. In addition, hand sanitizer or hand washing stations were available at each stadium.”
3:30 a.m.: US sets another record with over 60,000 new cases in a day
More than 60,000 new cases of COVID-19 were identified in the United States on Tuesday, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
It’s the first time the United States has reached or crossed the 60,000 threshold of newly diagnosed cases in a 24-hour reporting period.
Tuesday’s caseload shattered the country’s previous record set on July 2, when more than 54,000 new cases were identified.
The national total currently stands at 2,996,098 diagnosed cases with at least 131,480 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.
By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up and crossing 50,000 for the first time last week.
Many states have seen a rise in infections in recent weeks, with some — including Arizona, California and Florida — reporting daily records.
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