Coronavirus Live Updates: Dire Numbers Prompt Mask Orders in U.S.

As U.S. caseload rises, governors and school districts scramble to prevent new infections.

As the United States reported its second-highest single-day total of new cases on Wednesday, governors and mayors were scrambling to issue new mask orders and limit the size of gatherings.

Several large school districts also said they would open the academic year with online classes, bucking pressure from President Trump and his administration to get students back into classrooms as quickly as possible.

The new restrictions reflect a painful reality that America’s outbreak, which has increased in 41 states over the past two weeks, may worsen in the coming weeks and months.

Wednesday’s tally of more than 67,300 new infections was about 1,000 cases shy of the record set late last week, according to a New York Times database, as the country’s total number of cases passed 3.5 million.

A fresh reading on signs of economic recovery — or a possible retreat — will come in a pair of U.S. government reports on Thursday morning.

​​The Commerce Department will release the retail sales figures for June, and a modest rise is expected, thanks in part to federal stimulus checks and tax refunds. But the surge of coronavirus cases in states like California, Florida and Texas is raising the specter of another shutdown, which would be a major blow for store-based retailers.

Retail sales jumped 17.7 percent in May, the largest monthly surge on record. But that followed two months of record declines, and overall sales were still down from February.

Also coming Thursday is the Labor Department’s weekly tally of unemployment claims. Economists on Wall Street expect the report to show that 1.25 million new claims for state unemployment insurance were filed last week, continuing the decline since the peak in late March but still higher than levels ever seen before the pandemic. Any increase would signal that new restrictions are crimping the rebound.

“The labor market is not as bad as it was a couple of months ago, but we are still in a very deep hole,” said Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh.

Unlike Britain, Portugal or Spain, France has not instituted regional lockdowns because of new outbreaks. But the authorities have warned about a surge of cases in the northwest, and hundreds of clusters have appeared across France. At least 30,000 people have died of the coronavirus in France, the third-highest official death toll in Europe after Britain and Italy, according to a New York Times database.

On Monday, local authorities in the southern city of Nice said outdoor gatherings would be limited to 2,500 people instead of 5,000, after thousands attended a concert last weekend. The authorities had recommended concertgoers to wear masks but they were not compulsory.

In other news around the world:

  • India reported a single-day record of 32,695 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, as the country’s total caseload nears one million. India trails only the United States and Brazil in the total number of cases, and several Indian states are reintroducing social-distancing measures they lifted in June.

  • Imported virus infections continued to rise in South Korea, making up 47 of the 61 new cases recorded on Thursday, according to an official tally. Nearly a third of the new cases were from South Korean construction workers returning from Iraq, reported Yonhap, the national news agency. Separately, the U.S. military said that 12 troops and two dependents who had arrived in South Korea over the past week tested positive for the virus.

In Washington State, which seemed to have beaten back the virus, the fight is on again.

“If these trends were to continue, we would have to prepare to go back to where we were in March,” Gov. Jay Inslee said recently.

Hong Kong on Thursday reported its highest daily number of coronavirus cases since the outbreak began in January, as the Chinese territory grappled with what some have called its “third wave” of infections and its most serious one yet.

Of the 67 new cases recorded on Thursday, 63 were local infections, meaning the sick had no travel history. Earlier this week, the government rolled out its most sweeping distancing measures yet, barring residents from dining at restaurants after 6 p.m. and requiring everyone to wear masks on public transportation. During the day, eateries must not be more than half full.

At a news conference on Thursday, health officials urged older adults to avoid leaving their homes as much as possible. Three patients between the ages of 89 and 95 have died from the coronavirus this week alone, with one of the largest clusters driving the current outbreak in Hong Kong linked to an elderly care home.

Hong Kong saw its last record jump of 65 new infections in a single day in late March, but most had been imported cases. The city, which has recorded a total of about 1,500 cases during the pandemic, has tallied 355 in the past two weeks.

How animals are helping us through the pandemic.

Whether it’s a therapy dog providing an escape for children in a hospital or your own — less useful — furry friend at home, here are some ways they are helping.

Reporting was contributed by Rachel Abrams, Keith Bradsher, Michael Corkery, Manny Fernandez, Russell Goldman, Mike Ives, Sapna Maheshwari, Jeffrey C. Mays, Jesse McKinley, Sarah Mervosh, Claire Cain Miller, Jennifer Miller, Raphael Minder, Elian Peltier, Nelson D. Schwartz, Mitch Smith, Ceylan Yeginsu and Elaine Yu.

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