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Sunday, July 5, 2020

July Fourth Celebrations Are Subdued as U.S. Coronavirus Cases Surge

The U.S. recorded more than 50,000 new coronavirus cases for a third consecutive day as infections surged on the eve of the Fourth of July weekend.

The holiday has sparked worry for many public officials. Leaders across the country have urged people to use caution in their Independence Day celebrations, with many fireworks displays virtual or canceled completely.

The nation added 52,104 cases Friday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, bringing the total to almost 2.8 million cases. Confirmed cases neared 11.1 million world-wide, with more than 525,000 deaths.

Florida, Texas, California and Arizona were among the hardest hit states, while a number of other states set records for new daily cases.

President Trump on Friday visited Mount Rushmore for an event and fireworks display—attracting thousands of attendees with little social distancing and few masks —before heading back to the capital for Saturday’s celebrations.

Ahead of the Mount Rushmore event, Kimberly Guilfoyle, a top campaign aide and the girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr., tested positive for the virus in South Dakota, said a person familiar with the events. Mr. Trump Jr., who tested negative, and Ms. Guilfoyle didn’t travel with the president to the state and weren’t with him before the festivities. The couple, who had been headlining fundraisers in the region, were expected to drive back to the East Coast to avoid contact with others.

The Florida health department reported nearly 9,500 new cases Friday, after the state passed the 10,000 mark—setting a record—a day earlier.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez ordered a countywide curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. starting Friday, and said it would be effective until further notice. He also ordered entertainment venues, including movie theaters and casinos, to close again after reopening in May.

“The curfew is meant to stop people from venturing out and hanging out with friends in groups, which has shown to be spreading the virus rapidly,” the mayor said in a statement.

The resurgence of coronavirus cases as the nation reopens has led to many last-minute changes or cancellations of festivities.

“As we begin the holiday weekend, please remember to celebrate responsibly,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper wrote on Twitter Friday.

In New York, the annual Macy’s Inc. fireworks show was taking place as five-minute displays throughout the week in unannounced locations to prevent viewers from congregating.

 Los Angeles County, which has the most cases in the country according to Johns Hopkins, has canceled Fourth of July fireworks, but the city of Lancaster plans to go ahead with its fireworks celebration.

“This is America. This is our birthday, and it is the worst year that we have ever experienced,” said Mayor R. Rex Parris, adding that event staff would have to wear masks and keep their distance.

Labor Department data released this week showed unemployment fell and the U.S. economy regained 4.8 million jobs in June, but the recent surge in coronavirus infections could throw the recovery off course. Mr. Trump on Saturday signed into law a bill extending the timeline for small businesses to apply for forgivable loans. The bill extending the Paycheck Protection Program passed the House and the Senate this week.

India, one of the worst-hit nations in the world, on Saturday reported a single-day record of 22,771 new cases, bringing the nation’s total to 648,315, data from the country’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare showed. India’s death toll stands at 18,655, including 442 in the preceding 24 hours.

New Delhi’s broader strategy to contain the virus has been enforcement of strict lockdown measures in areas with high caseloads, enhanced testing and isolation of positive patients. However, cases continue to rise, straining an overwhelmed health-care system.

As precautionary measures, the country continues to have restrictions on large gatherings, and hasn’t resumed metro rail, international flights, schools and colleges yet.

In Australia, the southern state of Victoria reported 108 new cases Saturday—its second-highest daily increase and biggest jump since late March. The growing number of infections has led to officials urging residents in designated “hot zones” to stay at home, while nine government-housing estates in the capital Melbourne were formally locked down Saturday.

It will last for at least five days to allow testing of about 3,000 residents, who will be required to stay inside their homes for the duration of the lockdown.

Japan’s total infections surpassed 20,000 on Saturday, after Tokyo reported 131 new cases, Kyodo News reported.

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