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COVID-19 infections soar in California, Texas, and Arizona

Texas Governor Greg Abbott addressed a news conference at the State Capitol in Austin, Texas, about the coronavirus pandemic on Monday.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott addressed a news conference at the State Capitol in Austin, Texas, about the coronavirus pandemic on Monday.RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN-STATESMAN/Associated Press

Newly diagnosed infections soared in some of the most populous US states, with California, Texas, and Arizona reporting their biggest daily jumps. And Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease expert, told Congress he was seeing a “disturbing surge” of cases.

Fauci and other health officials said they haven’t discussed the pandemic with President Donald Trump for more than two weeks. The European Union may decide to keep the door shut to Americans when it eases controls on external borders.

Key developments

Texas reports more than 5,000 new cases

Texas reported a record 5,489 new cases, bringing the total to 120,370, according to the state health department. That represented a 4.8% increase, well above the 3.7% seven-day average. Hospitalizations, meanwhile, surged by more than 10% to 4,092. The 381 new admissions was the single biggest daily increase since the pandemic emerged.

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Despite the surge, Governor Greg Abbott said during an interview with KTBX TV on Tuesday that he has no intention of reimposing an economic lockdown at this time, and that schools will reopen as planned in late summer.

Still, Abbott granted local official across the Lone Star state the power to restrict outdoor gatherings of 100 people or more, down from the previous threshold of 500.

Arizona breaks daily case record

Arizona, one of the Sun Belt states where infections are surging, broke its daily case record, adding nearly 3,600, according to tallies released Tuesday, bringing the total to 58,179. The state also reported 42 deaths, raising the toll to 1,384.

Florida infection rate rises to 11%

Florida reported 103,506 Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, up 3.3% from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 3.8% in the previous seven days. Deaths among Florida residents reached 3,237, an increase of 2%, the most on a percentage basis since June 5.

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Seen on a rolling seven-day basis, Florida’s new cases reached 23,397, the highest ever.

Cumulative hospitalizations of Florida residents rose by 199, or 1.5%, to 13,318. On a rolling seven day-basis, they reached 1,112, the highest level since May 25.

The new rate of people testing positive for the first time climbed to 10.9% for Monday, from 7.7% on Sunday.

US cases rise 1.6%

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. increased by 35,695 from the same time Monday to 2.33 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. The 1.6% gain was higher than the average daily increase of 1.3% the past seven days. Deaths rose 0.7% to 120,913.

California has record jump in cases

California reported 5,019 new confirmed cases, its biggest daily increase, for a total of 183,073. The number of deaths rose by 65 to 5,580. The rate of positive tests over the past 14 days -- a key measure of community spread -- inched up to 4.9% from 4.8%.

Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday said the jump in cases and hospitalizations is “sobering” and indicate the state is still in the first wave of the virus. He urged residents to take actions to mitigate the spread and reduce the likelihood of a return of stay-at-home orders.

“We don’t intend to do that, we don’t want to do that, but I want to make this clear: We are prepared to do that if we must,” Newsom said at a press briefing. “We have the capacity, individual and collective capacity, not to have to go in that direction by just being a little bit more thoughtful about how we go about our day-to-day lives.”

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Health officials haven’t spoken to Trump

Top U.S. health officials told lawmakers that they haven’t discussed the Covid-19 pandemic with President Donald Trump for more than two weeks, a period in which cases have surged in some of the most populous states.

Trump has blamed the wave of infections on testing and said at a rally in Oklahoma Saturday that he told his administration to rein in screening. However, Anthony Fauci, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director, and Robert Redfield, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chief, both said Tuesday that they haven’t been asked to slow down.

“It’s the opposite,” Fauci said at a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday. “We’re going to be doing more testing, not less.”

Most of the officials indicated that they have recently had little communication with the president. Fauci and Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir said they haven’t spoken to Trump about the virus in about two and a half weeks. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn said it had been “some time” since he’d spoke to Trump. Redfield declined to say when he last spoke to the president.

EU may opt to keep Americans out

The European Union may decide to keep the door shut to Americans when the bloc eases controls on its external borders.

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Diplomats from the 27-nation EU are scheduled to convene Wednesday to discuss the criteria for lifting a curb on non-essential travel to the bloc as of July 1. One of the criteria up for discussion is “reciprocity,” which would mean U.S. citizens wouldn’t be allowed into the bloc starting next month because Europeans are still barred for health reasons from traveling to their country.

Europe is trying to revive domestic economies as the summer tourist season gets underway while guarding against a second wave of infections. The restrictions were introduced in mid-March for 30 days and extended three times through June as Europe battled to contain the coronavirus.

Vegas casinos pay gamblers to wear masks

Caesars Entertainment Corp. said it has been handing out $20 in gambling credit to guests wearing masks at five of its Las Vegas casinos. The players, who must be members of the company’s customer loyalty program, are chosen by casino staff wandering the floor. Some $7,500 was given to 375 players last weekend, the company said. Wynn Resorts Ltd. said it is also offering incentives to players wearing masks.

Nevada casinos reopened June 4 without a specific requirement that guests have facial coverings. Last week, the state’s Gaming Control Board began requiring masks for guests at table games, such as blackjack, if those tables don’t have plexiglass dividers to mitigate the spread of the virus. Casinos are also required to provide masks to guests on request.

Palm Beach County mandates masks

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Palm Beach County commissioners voted unanimously to institute a face mask requirement for the public in Florida’s third-most populous county.

The move is the latest in Florida, where local officials have been going out on their own to mandate masks as new cases surged in June and Governor Ron DeSantis refrained from instituting a statewide rule. Hillsborough County and several cities in Miami-Dade County have added mask rules in recent days, although the specifics vary by region.

Palm Beach is also the official residence of President Donald Trump, who has mostly declined to wear a mask in public.

Speaking from Orlando on Tuesday, DeSantis said he would continue to defer to local governments on mask rules, arguing that the nature the outbreak isn’t uniform across the large state.

Houston ICU beds may be full in 11 days

Intensive-care unit capacity in Harris County, Texas -- home to Houston and the nation’s third-most populous county -- will be exhausted in 11 days, based on the two-week average expansion rates. Surge beds will be full in 38 days, according to Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s office.

There are 1,488 Covid-19 patients in ICU beds across the county, leaving 134 intensive-case beds available and another 326 surge beds in reserve. “Very concerning to say the least” in a county with almost 5 million residents, a Hidalgo spokesman said.

N.J. virus transmission creeping up

New Jersey’s transmission rate is “beginning to creep up,” Governor Phil Murphy said Tuesday, just as the state begins to open after months on lockdown.

Murphy said intensive-care cases and ventilator use were also on the rise. The increases were for a single day, he said, but we “cannot have a one-day increase turn into a trend.”

NYC restaurants reopening

In New York City, 4,136 restaurants have applied for and been immediately approved to operate outdoor dining on sidewalks and curbside parking spaces, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, as the city’s second phase of reopening entered its second day Tuesday.

De Blasio, who dined Monday night at Melba’s, a well-known restaurant in Harlem, said the owner told him it took only five minutes to complete the application online. The restaurant, which opened with help from restaurant architect and designer David Rockwell, features transparent dividers between its curbside wooden tables.

Between 150,000 and 300,000 people went back to work Monday, as the city allowed partial reopening of offices, restaurants, barber shops and stores, the mayor said.