ST. PETERSBURG, Florida – The Fourth of July holiday weekend began Saturday with some sobering numbers in the Sunshine State: Florida logged a record number of people testing positive for the coronavirus.
State health officials reported 11,445 new cases, a single-day record since the pandemic began earlier this year. The latest count brings the total number of cases in the state to more than 190,000. A website maintained by the Department of Health shows an additional 245 hospitalizations from the outbreak.
Local officials and health experts are worried that people will gather over the holiday weekend and spread the virus through close contact. Theyâ€™ve tried to mitigate spread by shutting bars statewide. Some regional attractions, such as Zoo Miami and Jungle Island, have closed. Universal Studios in Orlando is open.
Mayor Carlos Gimenez closed Miami-Dade County beaches through the weekend. Municipalities elsewhere in South Florida, from Vero Beach to Broward County, did the same. Beaches in the Florida Keys are also closed. Public beaches along Pinellas Countyâ€™s 35 miles of sand are open.
HEREâ€™S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
– Pubs and hair salons are back in Britain and while many are welcoming the easing of the lockdown, some still have concerns about the virus.
– An Independence Day like no other: This year, July Fourth comes at a time when Americans are more divided than ever.
– While many July Fourth celebrations across the U.S. are subdued this year, President Donald Trump has promised a â€œspecial eveningâ€ in Washington that could bring tens of thousands to the National Mall.
– Will the Sun Belt remain gripped by doubt and uncertainty for months or years? A look at the economic impact of the pandemic on business owners, workers, consumers and home buyers.
-With many U.S. nursing homes locked down to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks, officials are issuing reminders that those $1,200 stimulus checks belong to residents.
Follow all of APâ€™s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HEREâ€™S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
ROME – For a fifth straight day, the number of Italyâ€™s daily new coronavirus cases increased.
The Health Ministry on Saturday said 235 new cases of confirmed coronavirus infections were registered since the previous day. Overall, Italyâ€™s known number of coronavirus cases stands at more than 241,400, although authorities say many infections of those with mild or no symptoms likely went undetected.
Saturday saw a sharp jump in day-to-day number of infections â€“ 27 to 51 – in the northern Emilia-Romagna region, whose beach towns are attracting vacationers.
The Lazio region, which includes Rome, also registered a steep rise in confirmed infections, 31, compared to 11 new cases a day earlier. The city has been trying to discourage groups of young people from mingling outdoors on summer nights to drink without keeping a safe distance apart despite not wearing masks.
There were 21 deaths registered nationwide, raising the known death toll in the pandemic to 34,854.
ATHENS, Greece – Greek authorities announced Saturday that there were 25 new confirmed coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, but no fatalities.
Eight of the 25 new cases involved incoming tourists, who are tested when they arrive in the country, authorities said.
The number of confirmed cases rose to more than 3,500, while fatalities remained at 192.
Eleven patients are on ventilators, while 119 have exited intensive care units. ___
BARCELONA, Spain – Barcelonaâ€™s iconic La Sagrada Familia basilica has reopened its doors for visits exclusively for health workers after nearly four months of being closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The basilica invited a first group of health workers on Saturday to visit the temple designed by architect Antoni GaudÃ. More will be able to visit on Sunday and on July 11-12 during a reopening phase the church is calling an â€œhomageâ€ to doctors, nurses and other medical professionals.
That will be followed by a second phase just for residents of Barcelona. The church says it is still waiting to announce when visitors from outside the city will be permitted entry.
La Sagrada Familia is Barcelonaâ€™s top tourist site, with 4.5 million visitors in 2019.
PARIS – France is sending medics to its South American territory of French Guiana to help treat growing numbers of coronavirus patients in a region where half the population lives below the French poverty level.
While the virus spread stabilized more than two months ago in mainland France, infections started surging in French Guiana more recently as the coronavirus swept South America, and especially neighboring Brazil. Based on this â€œworryingâ€ trend, the French national health agency said Friday night that medical staff reinforcements will be sent in the coming days.
The military has already stepped in to fly patients from saturated facilities in French Guiana to the French Caribbean island of Martinique for treatment.
Of the roughly 5,000 new cases confirmed across France over the past week, 1,400 of them were in French Guiana, with a population of just 300,000, according to the health agency. About a quarter of virus tests in French Guiana have been positive in recent weeks.
Nationwide, France has reported 310 new virus clusters since it started reopening in early May. France has reported the fifth-highest number of virus deaths worldwide, a total of 29,893, about half of them in nursing homes.
NEW DELHI – India on Saturday recorded its highest single-day spike in new coronavirus cases, with 22,771 people testing positive in the last 24 hours.
India has now confirmed 648,315 cases – fourth in the world behind the U.S., Brazil and Russia. It also has reported 18,655 deaths from the virus.
Of the 442 deaths in the last 24 hours, 198 were in Maharashtra state.
BERLIN – German Chancellor Angela Merkel has paid tribute to the elderly, who she said have faced particular hardship and loneliness in recent months because of the restrictions imposed to curb the coronavirus pandemic.
In her weekly video address Saturday, Merkel thanked older Germans for accepting the necessary limits on social contacts, saying that â€œthe most painful thing was surely not to be able to see children and grandchildren for many weeks.â€
Like elsewhere, the elderly have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic in Germany, with numerous deadly outbreaks occurring in nursing homes.
Germany, which has so far recorded over 190,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 9,010 deaths, has started testing asymptomatic people in care homes in an effort to detect any new outbreaks before they spread.
Merkel urged Germans to help protect the elderly by respecting distancing rules in public.
LLEIDA, Spain – Authorities in northeast Spain have ordered the confinement of a county around the city of Lleida due to worrying outbreaks of the coronavirus.
Catalan regional authorities announced Saturday that as of noon local time movement will be restricted to and from the country of El SegriÃ¡ around Lleida, which is home to over 200,000 people. Residents will have until 4 p.m. local to enter the area.
Regional health authorities said Friday that they had registered a jump of 60 cases in 24 hours, taking the total number of infections to over 4,000 in the county.
The new outbreaks are linked to agricultural workers in the rural area.
Spain was completely locked down for over three months to get its coronavirus outbreak under control before its national government ended a state of emergency last month. Over 28,000 people are confirmed to have died from the virus in Spain.
MOSCOW – Russiaâ€™s death toll from the coronavirus has risen above 10,000.
The national coronavirus task force on Saturday reported 168 COVID-19 deaths over the past day, bringing the national total to 10,027. It also tallied 6,632 new infections, raising the total to 674,515.
Russiaâ€™s caseload is the worldâ€™s third-largest, behind the United States and Brazil, but its reported deaths are lower than many other countries. Russian officials have denied speculation that the figures are being manipulated.
MELBOURNE, Australia – Australiaâ€™s Victoria state recorded 108 new coronavirus cases Saturday, forcing authorities to lock down nine public housing towers and three more Melbourne suburbs.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said 3,000 people in the housing towers would go into â€œhard lockdown,â€ meaning â€œthere will be no one allowed in … and no one allowed out.â€
Residents in the Flemington and Kensington housing units will receive deliveries of food and medicine, along with alcohol support.
The suburbs of Kensington, Flemington and North Melbourne will join 36 others in being subject to stage 3 coronavirus restrictions. Residents can only leave their homes for food or essential supplies, medical care or care-giving, exercise or for work or education.
After a recent flareup, Victoria has 509 active cases of COVID-19 with 25 people hospitalized, including three in intensive care.
JOHANNESBURG – South Africa has announced another record daily number of confirmed coronavirus cases with 9,064, as Africaâ€™s most developed country shows signs of strain in coping with the pandemic.
Thirty percent of South Africaâ€™s more than 177,000 cases are now in Gauteng province, which contains Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria.
More than 2,900 people in the country have died. The African continent overall has more than 433,000 confirmed virus cases.
GENEVA – The World Health Organizationâ€™s emergencies chief says â€œwe need to put up a fight nowâ€ during a peak in the current wave of the coronavirus pandemic – rather than focusing on when a second wave might come.
Dr. Michael Ryan said the world will be much better at fighting a second wave, if people can learn the lessons of fighting the first wave.
WHO officials emphasized mask-wearing, social distancing, and hygiene by individuals, along with contact-tracing and tracking of cases by health authorities as key strategies to fight the virus. They say governments and individuals should contour their policies and behavior based on the outbreakâ€™s status in their countries.
Ryan said the world was experiencing a â€œsecond peak in the first waveâ€ – a situation in which the virus hasnâ€™t been suppressed enough to quell transmission to end the first one.