Atlanta mayor announces coronavirus rollback, governor refutes plan
A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 559,000 people worldwide.
Over 12.4 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations’ outbreaks.
The United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 3.1 million diagnosed cases and at least 134,059 deaths.
California to release 8,000 inmates
Texas county shuts down testing centers due to heat
Mexico looking to extend border closing with US
Here is how the news is developing today. All times Eastern.
9:45 p.m.: LA County reports 51 daily deaths
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the county had 51 new deaths in the previous 24-hour period to bring the total to 3,738 since the start of the pandemic.
It was the highest daily death toll since May 16, when 53 fatalities were reported. At the time there were just 1,875 deaths in the county.
“We are not back to a safer-at-home order, but we all need to do our part to minimize the spread of COVID-19,” Garcetti said. “This threat is real, this threat is growing.”
He also urged people not to leave the house this weekend despite the hot temperatures. The highs are forecast to hit the low 90s on Saturday and Sunday.
“Even though we know it is going to be very hot this weekend, it’s not a green light for a pool party or barbecue,” Garcetti added. He said cooling centers would be open for seniors with social distancing and masks.
8:06 p.m.: Pac-12 joins Big Ten in playing only conference football games
One day after the Big Ten announced it would only be playing conference games during the college football season, the Pac-12 has joined them in making the same decision.
Men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball will also only play conference games.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports continues to be our number one priority,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement. “Our decisions have and will be guided by science and data, and based upon the trends and indicators over the past days, it has become clear that we need to provide ourselves with maximum flexibility to schedule, and to delay any movement to the next phase of return-to-play activities.”
The conference also announced it is immediately “delaying the start of mandatory athletic activities, until a series of health and safety indicators, which have recently trended in a negative direction.”
Los Angeles County, home to marquee programs University of Southern California and the University of California, Los Angeles, has been particularly hard-hit by a resurgence in the virus.
The Ivy League became the first conference to cancel all fall sports earlier this week.
6:23 p.m.: Atlanta mayor announces rollback, governor refutes plan
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who has risen to the national stage in recent months and is a candidate for vice president on Joe Biden’s ticket, said she is rolling back the city’s reopening plans, according to Atlanta ABC affiliate WSB.
The rollback to phase 1 would require people to shelter-in-place at their homes and only leave for essential tasks. The city had moved to phase 2 in late May, at the behest of Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, which allowed for businesses to reopen with restrictions.
Kemp’s office quickly released a statement saying the mayor had no authority to return to phase 1.
“Mayor Bottoms’ action today is merely guidance — both non-binding and legally unenforceable. As clearly stated in the Governor’s executive order, no local action can be more or less restrictive, and that rule applies statewide,” the governor’s statement said. “Once again, if the Mayor actually wants to flatten the curve in Atlanta, she should start enforcing state restrictions, which she has failed to do.”
“We ask citizens and businesses alike to comply with the terms of the Governor’s order, which was crafted in conjunction with state public health officials,” the statement added. “These common-sense measures will help protect the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians.”
Bottoms herself tested positive for the virus earlier this week, but has shown few symptoms, she said.
5:42 p.m.: Texas still setting records for hospitalizations
Texas, one of the virus’s current hotspots, continues to struggle with overcrowding in hospitals as cases surge.
There are currently 10,002 patients hospitalized statewide, with Houston’s Texas Medical Center at 105% capacity.
Texas reported 95 new fatalities on Friday — down slightly from Thursday’s one-day record of 105 — bringing the state’s total to 3,013 deaths.
Among the deaths is a 6-month-old baby in Corpus Christi. The positivity rate for testing in Bexar County, which includes San Antonio, is 22%.
Also, a 30-year-old man in San Antonio died after attending a party, according to the chief medical officer at Methodist Hospital.
“One of the things that was heart wrenching that he said to his nurse was, you know, I think I made a mistake. And this young man went to a COVID party,” Dr. Jane Appleby told San Antonio ABC affiliate KSAT. “He didn’t really believe. He thought the disease was a hoax. He thought he was young and he was invincible and wouldn’t get affected by the disease.”
A bipartisan group of Texas lawmakers, led by Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, are asking Health and Human Services for a new field hospital, along with personnel, oxygen, ventilators, personal protective equipment and dialysis machines to help battle the coronavirus in the Rio Grande Valley.
“To quote a local hospital administrator, ‘We cannot wait 30 days,'” they wrote in a letter to Secretary Alex Azar.
Cases in Texas now total 240,111 with 9,765 new cases since yesterday.
4:30 p.m.: California to release 8,000 inmates
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said Friday it will release more inmates to help protect the prisons from COVID-19.
The department said it estimates 8,000 inmates could be eligible for release by the end of August, in addition to the about 10,000 people released since the pandemic began.
Everyone will be tested for COVID-19 within seven days of release, the department said.
“These actions are taken to provide for the health and safety of the incarcerated population and staff,” California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary Ralph Diaz said in a statement. “We aim to implement these decompression measures in a way that aligns both public health and public safety.”
Over 1,000 have been infected and several inmates have died at California’s San Quentin prison, reported ABC San Francisco station KGO. COVID-19 also broke out at California Institution for Men in Chino, where an inmate told KGO that the virus “spread like wildfire.”
4 p.m.: Georgia reports new daily record of coronavirus cases
Georgia state reported 4,484 new cases and 35 new fatalities on Friday.
Until now, the highest single-day case increase in Georgia was last Thursday when the state recorded nearly 3,500 new cases, WSB reported.
3:35 p.m.: California’s hospitalizations jump by 40%
California’s number of coronavirus hospitalizations reached a new high on Friday, jumping 40% in two weeks, to 6,171 patients.
The number of people in ICUs increased by 28% in the last two weeks.
California reported 140 additional deaths on Friday, bringing the state’s death toll to 6,851.
California had reported 149 new deaths on Thursday — the state’s highest daily number of fatalities so far.
3 p.m.: NY nursing homes can resume visits
New York nursing homes — which have been severely impacted by the pandemic — can resume limited visits, with strict rules applying, State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker announced Friday.
Visits can resume at nursing homes that have been without COVID-19 for at least 28 days.
Two people can visit at a time and the visitors must get their temperature checked, wear face coverings and stay socially distant. Only 10% of nursing home residents can have visitors at once.
“We will continue to closely monitor the situation in each facility, and make adjustments based on the facts and data moving forward,” Zucker said in a statement. “I know how painful it has been for residents of these facilities to endure such a long period of time without seeing family and loved ones, and my hope is that this adjustment to the visitation policy will provide some comfort to everyone.”
2:20 p.m.: Connecticut reports another day of no COVID-19 deaths
For the second time this week, Connecticut reported a day of no COVID-19 fatalities on Friday.
No deaths were reported on Tuesday, while the state reported five fatalities on Wednesday and another five on Thursday.
Gov. Ned Lamont said Friday that the state has reached a .6% positivity rate, down from 1% on Thursday.
Connecticut has 77 people in hospitals on Friday, a decrease of 13 since Thursday.
1:30 p.m.: Michigan businesses must refuse service to those not wearing masks
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed a new executive order requiring face coverings in indoor spaces and in crowded outdoor spaces. The order also requires businesses to refuse entry or service to people who won’t wear a face covering.
“Those who are exempt from wearing a mask in Michigan businesses include people younger than five years old, those who cannot medically tolerate a face covering, and those who are eating or drinking while seated at a food service establishment,” a statement from the governor said.
Every region in Michigan has seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases in the last week, Whitmer said
The executive order takes effect on Monday. Those who violate the order could face a $500 criminal penalty.
1 p.m.: Arizona’s ICUs are 89% full
In hard-hit Arizona, intensive care units are 89% full on Friday.
This comes as the state reports 4,221 new cases, reaching a total of 116,892 cases.
Arizona’s positivity rate now stands at 22.2%.
At least 2,082 people in Arizona have died from the virus.
12:30 p.m.: Texas county shuts down testing centers due to heat
Harris County, Texas, which includes the city of Houston, said Friday it was shutting down all of its COVID-19 testing centers due to the extreme heat.
The National Weather Service warned the heat index values would reach between 105 and 110 degrees during the day.
Houston reported 412 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the city’s total to 26,012, the mayor said.
Texas hit a record number of daily coronavirus fatalities on Thursday, with 105 new deaths recorded.
The state’s positivity rate stood at 15% Thursday.
12 p.m.: Mexico looking to extend border closing with US
Mexico’s Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said Friday that Mexico’s border closure with the U.S. should be extended to August or until there is a “decline” in U.S. cases.
“Our perspective and the one from the Secretary of Health is that it would not be prudent to reopen because what we are going to cause is an impact towards a new outbreak.” Ebrard said at a news conference. “So what we are looking with the local authorities is to prolong the nonessential travel restrictions.”
11:30 a.m.: South Carolina order restricts alcohol sales
The order begins Saturday and lasts until further notice, he said Friday.
Restaurants and bars that violate the order may be fined or have their alcohol permits suspended or revoked, the governor warned.
Alcohol can still be purchased at wine and liquor stores.
South Carolina’s positivity rate stood at 20.6% on Thursday. Three-quarters of the state’s hospital beds were in use as of Thursday.
11 a.m.: Florida reports over 11,000 new cases, 11-year-old girl among fatalities
Florida reported 11,433 new cases on Friday, bringing the state’s total cases to 244,151.
Florida’s positivity rate is down to 12.7%, a 5.5% drop from Thursday.
Among the state’s 4,203 fatalities is an 11-year-old Fort Lauderdale girl, reported ABC Miami affiliate WPLG, citing the local medical examiner. The young girl suffered from underlying conditions including cerebral palsy, epilepsy and asthma, WPLG said.
Miami-Dade County, which includes Miami, and Broward County, which includes Fort Lauderdale, are especially hard-hit, but both counties showed improvement on Friday.
Miami-Dade reported 2,360 new cases and a positivity rate of 20.2%, down from 26.2% on Thursday.
Broward County reported 1,627 new cases and a positivity rate of 15%, a drop from 22.7% one day earlier.
9:40 a.m.: Dog in Texas confirmed to have COVID-19
A dog in Tarrant County, Texas, was confirmed to have SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans, according to federal officials and the Texas Animal Health Commission.
The dog was tested after its owners were confirmed to have the coronavirus, the animal health commission said.
The 2-year-old dog is considered healthy, officials said.
“Based on current knowledge, there is no evidence that pets play a significant role in spreading SARS-CoV-2 to people,” Texas’ state veterinarian, Dr. Andy Schwartz, said in a statement. “It’s always important to restrict contact with your pets and other animals, just like you would other people, if you are infected with COVID-19 in order to protect them from infection.”
8:45 a.m.: Boston’s moratorium on evictions extended through end of year
As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the economy, Boston is extending its moratorium on nonessential evictions through the end of the year, Mayor Marty Walsh said Friday.
This moratorium, which began in March, applies to Boston Housing Authority’s public housing residents.
“These are extraordinary times, and right now, we all need to come together to ensure that our city’s most vulnerable residents are able to continue to live and work in the city they call home,” the mayor said in a statement.
8:03 a.m.: Judge rules against Texas GOP
A Harris County District Court judges has ruled against the Republican Party in Texas, after it sued the city of Houston and Mayor Sylvester Turner after the mayor canceled the state’s GOP convention in the city.
Turner, citing the surge in coronavirus cases in the state and city, canceled the Texas Republican Party’s in-person state convention, which was scheduled to start on July 16 in Houston.
“Look, these are some very serious times, and the safety of people attending the convention, the employees, their family members, the people in the city of Houston, have their public health concerns,” Turner said in a statement. “First responders and municipal workers will all be in contact or in proximity to the indoor gathering. Public health concerns outweigh anything else.”
The Texas GOP, said it was expecting the “liberal” court’s ruling and said it would appeal to the Texas Supreme Court.
“It didn’t matter in which court this case landed, we expected a denial from the liberal Harris County courts,” Texas Republican Party Chairman James Dickey, said in a statement Thursday. “We thank them for a speedy denial so we can move forward with the appeal we had prepared.”
Turner canceled the convention, which was to be held at the George R. Brown Convention Center, after the city’s Local Health Authority, Dr. David Persse called the GOP convention “a clear and present danger.”
5:13 a.m.: US COVID-19 deaths begin to climb again
National coronavirus case counts, hospitalizations and deaths continue to climb, according to the COVID Tracking Project. At least 867 people died of COVID-19 Thursday in the U.S.
Nationally, the seven-day average has begun to climb after an extended decline, the COVID Tracking Project said.
The last three days were the highest numbers the organization has reported since early June. This rise in deaths is concentrated in states with large outbreaks. Texas, California and Florida all reported their single highest day of deaths for the entire pandemic on Thursday.
This news comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevents updated its COVID-19 death toll forecast Thursday to say it expects between 140,000 to 160,000 deaths by Aug. 1
The CDC forecasts suggest that the number of new deaths over the next four weeks in Arizona, Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, the U.S. Virgin Islands and West Virginia, will likely exceed the number reported over the last four weeks. For other states, the number of new deaths is expected to be similar to the number seen in the previous four weeks or to decrease slightly.
For other states, the number of new deaths is expected to be similar to the number seen in the previous four weeks or to decrease slightly, according to the CDC. These figures are identical to last week’s death forecast.
ABC News’ Stephanie Ebbs, Anne Flaherty, Matt Foster, Matt Fuhrman, Will Gretsky, Marilyn Heck, Ben Siegel, Josh Hoyos, Aaron Katersky, Michelle Mendez, Anne Laudernt, Annie Pong, Kirit Radia, Gina Sunseri, Jason Volack and Scott Withers contributed to this report.