US Democrats have urged elected leaders and party delegates to skip the national convention in August as coronavirus cases surge, the New York Times reported, in what the paper says is “a sign of the ever-shrinking aspirations for their big campaign event in the face of the spreading virus”.
In an email to congressional aides, senior adviser to the convention committee Chasseny Lewis wrote: “We have been working closely with state and local public health officials, as well epidemiologists, and have come to the hard decision that members of Congress should not plan to travel to Milwaukee.”
Early on Thursday, the Republican National Committee announced plans to scale back its convention scheduled for next month in Jacksonville, Florida. It had moved the event from North Carolina before the surge of cases in Florida, hoping for fewer restrictions on crowds.
The RNC chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, confirmed the update in a letter to convention delegates, noting the organisation will comply with local and federal health guidelines while adapting the events.
“We still intend to host a fantastic convention celebration in Jacksonville,” she wrote. “We can gather and put on a top-notch event that celebrates the incredible accomplishments of President Trump’s administration and his re-nomination for a second term – while also doing so in a safe and responsible manner.”
The decisions come as the US continues to record around 60,000 cases per day. According to data from the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracker, which relies on official government figures, the US has recorded more than 60,000 cases – and on one occasion almost 70,000 cases – for six of the nine days leading up to 15 July, which is the most recent date for which a daily case figure is confirmed on the tracker. Coronavirus cases are rising in 41 states, with hospitalisations rising in 33 states, according to Guardian analysis.
Nonetheless, the Trump administration continues to advise that schools reopen. Earlier on Thursday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended Trump’s push to reopen schools, despite concerns about the spread of coronavirus in the classroom. A number of school officials have expressed concern about students and staff members potentially contracting the virus once in-person instruction resumes.
“The science should not stand in the way of this,” McEnany said, adding moments later: “The science is on our side here.”
Around the world, countries are re-imposing localised restrictions as new virus clusters or outbreaks emerge. In Mexico, authorities imposed local restrictions on mobility, commerce, and leisure, particularly in popular tourist destinations, even as the government seeks to revive the battered economy. Mexico has 317,635 cases and 37,574 deaths.
In Spain, officials in Catalan said on Thursday that residents in three districts in the Barcelona suburb of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat must stay indoors amid a resurgence in cases. Wednesday saw residents told to stay at home in an area in and around the north-eastern city of Lerida, a measure affecting around 160,000 people. They are allowed to leave to go to work, buy food or medication, or to exercise.
In Colombia, doctors are calling for a return to a strict city-wide quarantine to slow coronavirus infections in the capital, warning that medical services are close to collapsing. The country has reported over 165,000 cases of the coronavirus and around 6,000 deaths. Bogota accounts for more than a third of the country’s total cases and over 20% of its deaths, Reuters reports.
Bogota’s intensive care units were at just under 90% capacity as of Wednesday evening, according to local government figures.
The Israeli government has ordered a tighter national lockdown at weekends. People will be allowed to leave their homes this weekend but malls, shops, pools, zoos and museums would shut from next Friday afternoon until Sunday morning, the government said in a statement. Israel has 46,059 cases and 384 deaths.
In India, new restrictions have been introduced in the western city of Pune and other states including Uttar Pradesh, home to 200 million people, badly hit Tamil Nadu and Assam. The northern Indian state of Bihar, with a population of around 125 million people, started a 15-day lockdown from 16 July. The southern city and IT hub of Bangalore, home to more than 13 million people, also began a week-long confinement on 14 July.
The state of Victoria in Australia reported a record 428 new cases, 10 days in to the lockdown of Melbourne. The neighbouring state of New South Wales tightened restrictions on pubs, restaurants and gatherings, as it reported eight new cases, six of which were from community transmission. Australia has 10,810 cases and 113 deaths, according to the latest Johns Hopkins University data.
Other key events include:
Russia on Thursday called off its annual “Immortal Regiment” commemoration of the nation’s World War II dead in which thousands carry photographs of relatives through the streets due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Spain has ordered the culling of nearly 100,000 mink on a farm after confirming many were carrying coronavirus.
Brazil’s cases passed 2 million on Thursday, with little sign that the rate of increase is slowing, as anger grows over President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the outbreak.
Hong Kong has recorded a record 67 new cases of Covid-19, in a growing new outbreak which has seen the city reintroduce widespread restrictions.