Party guests exposed to COVID-19 not cooperating, officials say
A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 515,000 people worldwide.
Over 10.6 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.
Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 2.6 million diagnosed cases and at least 128,044 deaths.
California shuts down most indoor businesses in 19 counties
Party host with COVID-19 spreads virus to at least 8 guests
Cuomo to Trump: ‘Admit you were wrong’
Here’s how the news is developing today. All times Eastern. Please refresh this page for updates
9:49 p.m.: Los Angeles releases new color-coded threat indicator
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti introduced a new color-coded threat level indicator at a press conference on Wednesday, saying the county currently resides at orange — the second-highest level.
“Today we are at orange, that means the risk of infection is high with 1 in 140 people in LA County are estimated to be infected,” Garcetti said. “When the indicator is orange you should stay home.”
“Red would mean that we are still at the highest risk of infection and residents must stay home; we would likely be on a mandated safer-at-home order,” he added.
There were 2,002 new cases and 35 deaths in LA County reported on Wednesday. Officials also noted that statistics were missing from one of the larger labs in the area, so case totals were likely higher. There are 1,889 people currently hospitalized, the most since May.
Garcetti said the infection rate could be as high as 1 in 70 in the upcoming weeks.
“This spike in infections and in hospitalizations is serious,” he said. “I know we are exhausted, I know we let down our guard, I know we think we are invincible, but this disease reminds us we aren’t.
“We took this seriously in March, in April and in May when we sacrificed and stayed at home we saved thousands and thousands of lives.”
7:55 p.m.: US sets new record for COVID-19 cases
The U.S. reported over 50,000 new cases of COVID-19 for the first time on Wednesday, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
The total — 52,982 — included record daily cases in Arizona, California, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas, it said.
The national positivity rate also rose to 7.3%, and hospitalizations are back to late-May levels, the project reported.
7:16 p.m.: Dog dies, tests positive for COVID
A 6-year-old mixed breed in Georgia has died from the coronavirus, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.
The dog came down with “a sudden onset of neurological illness which progressed rapidly over the course of a couple of days” and had to be euthanized.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory confirmed the dog was positive for COVID-19, though it did not actually test the animal.
There have been a number of animals to test positive for coronavirus in the United States, according to the USDA, including three dogs and four cats. The USDA also confirmed a lion and a tiger tested positive at the Bronx Zoo, though the zoo reported six other big cats had also been diagnosed.
6:09 p.m.: SC announces highest daily death toll
South Carolina announced 1,497 new cases today, according to Dr. Linda Bell, South Carolina’s state epidemiologist.
There were also a daily record of 24 new confirmed deaths.
And in another record, there are currently 1,160 hospitalized in the state.
“Unless we do something dramatically different to control this disease that is spread simply by breathing from infected people, then we will be looking at projections that are far worse than what we are experiencing now,” Bell said.
5:50 p.m.: Texas hits record 8,076 new cases
Texas has hit a record 8,076 new cases of the coronavirus — about 1,100 more than yesterday’s previous record — and the state now has a positivity rate of 13.56%, down slightly from Tuesday.
Hospitalizations have jumped to 6,904 statewide.
Texas Medical Center hospitals in Houston are transitioning to a phase 2 surge planning as the intensive care unit capacity nears 100%.
On Wednesday, officials also announced that beaches in Galveston, a popular cooling off destination just southeast of Houston, will close during the Fourth of July weekend due to increases in COVID-19 cases. Beaches will be off-limits starting Friday at 5 a.m. and reopen Monday morning.
4:55 p.m.: TSA closes main Atlanta checkpoint after screener tests positive
Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport shut down its main TSA checkpoint for a deep cleaning on Wednesday after a screener tested positive for COVID-19, a TSA spokesperson said.
That officer was last working on Tuesday from 3:30 a.m. to noon.
The main checkpoint is expected to reopen Thursday morning as the airport anticipates a jump in travelers for the Fourth of July holiday.
The TSA is projecting it will screen 27,000 passengers on Thursday and again Friday — up from their recent average of around 20,000, the spokesperson said.
Overall, the TSA has had 866 federal employees test positive for COVID-19. Twenty-nine of them work at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
3:30 p.m.: California shuts down most indoor businesses in 19 counties
As California sees a significant increase in its positivity rate, the state is immediately requiring these businesses to close indoor operations: restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, zoos, museums, family entertainment centers and card rooms.
Bars must close completely.
This applies to all counties that have been on the “county monitoring list” for three consecutive days, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday. Nineteen counties are currently on the list, including Los Angeles, Orange, Sacramento and Fresno.
These 19 counties represent 70% of the state’s population, Newsom said.
This guidance will remain in place for at least three weeks, Newsom said.
Newsom also said parking facilities at state beaches in Southern California and the Bay Area will be closed for the 4th of July weekend.
In counties that close local beaches, the state will join and close state beaches, he said.
California saw 5,898 new diagnosed cases on Tuesday, while 110 people lost their lives in the last 24 hours, Newsom said.
2:50 p.m.: Party host with COVID-19 spreads virus to at least 8 guests
Rockland County, New York, is seeing a coronavirus cluster attributed to a large party — one of the many gatherings in the area, county Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel said Wednesday.
The host of the party was ill at the time and the virus spread to at least eight others — all young adults, Schnabel said at a news conference.
“Large gatherings remain an issue,” she said. “The risk for transmission of the virus is high and very real.”
Schnabel said some people contacted by health investigators are denying being at the party and are refusing to speak to the investigators.
“Many do not answer their cell phones and do not call back,” she said. “‘Sometimes parents answer for their adult children and promise that they have been home consistently — when they have not been.”
“This must stop,” she said. “Unfortunately I am now forced by these circumstances to send subpoenas to the individuals who are required to cooperate with us.”
2:30 p.m.: Masks now required statewide in Oregon
Effective now, masks will be required statewide in Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown announced.
The mandate applies to all indoor places. Children 12 and younger do not have to wear a mask, though it is still encouraged.
Oregon has had one of the lowest COVID-19 mortality rates in the country, Brown said, and she warned, “an uncontrolled spike in cases will threaten our hospital capacity.”
Oregon has over 8,600 cases of the coronavirus and Brown said the state could reach 10,000 cases within a week.
12:15 p.m.: WHO says 60% of all COVID-19 cases were reported in the last month
“For the past week, the number of new cases has exceeded 160,000 on every single day,” he said.
As the U.S. reports around 45,000 new cases a day, the WHO points to the two countries which were once the epicenters of pandemic: Italy and Spain.
Spain was reporting around 10,000 new cases per day at its peak while Italy was reporting around 6,500 new cases per day, Tedros said.
“We will never get tired of saying that the best way out of this pandemic is to take a comprehensive approach,” Tedros said.
Countries that have adopted this comprehensive approach have suppressed COVID-19 transmission and saved lives, he said.
Tedros added that flare-ups are to be expected as countries start to lift restrictions, but one of the lessons of the pandemic is that no matter what situation a country is in, it can be turned around.
“It’s never too late,” he said.
11:50 a.m.: Cuomo to Trump: ‘Admit you were wrong’
The coronavirus is “getting worse” across the U.S. with 35 states seeing increasing infection rates, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.
Cuomo slammed President Donald Trump who he said “denied the reality of this situation from day one.”
“Republican governors listened [to Trump]. And a lot of Republicans listened and won’t wear a mask,” Cuomo said at a news conference. “He has lived in denial and he has been denying the scientific facts from day one.”
“Now the country is suffering because of the president and it’s time for him to change course,” Cuomo said. “The first thing he can do — come clean with the American people, admit the threat of this virus. Admit you were wrong.”
Cuomo called testing the key, and said on Wednesday New York state will reach 4 million total tests completed since March.
The governor said New York state has 750 testing sites and is completing more tests per capita than any nation in the world.
But Cuomo said citizen compliance with social distancing and masks is slipping in New York, which he called “a very real problem.”
“If you have citizen compliance dropping and you don’t have local governments enforcing, then you’re going to see the virus go up,” Cuomo said. “That is an inarguable fact.”
11:08 a.m.: Florida hits 15% positivity rate
In Florida, the number of coronavirus cases jumped by 6,563 in one day, bringing the state to a positivity rate of 15%, according to the state’s Department of Health.
In Miami-Dade County, which includes Miami, and in Osceola County, which is near Orlando, 18.2% of those tested are positive.
With the number of coronavirus patients steadily increasing, Jackson Health System in Miami said it will limit surgeries to emergency and urgent cases only, beginning on Monday.
10:25 a.m.: NYC postpones opening indoor dining
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is postponing the reopening of indoor dining, he said on Wednesday.
De Blasio said his decision comes as he watches states including Florida, Texas and California “slipping backward,” with cases rising, especially “around people going back to bars and restaurants indoors.”
Instead, New York City will “double down” on outdoor dining, de Blasio said.
He said 6,600 restaurants are already participating.
New York City, initially the nation’s epicenter of the pandemic, is now on the road to recovery.
Of those tested for the coronavirus citywide, just 2% are now testing positive, de Blasio said Wednesday.
While indoor dining will not yet restart, New York City beaches are opening for the season on Wednesday.
8:30 a.m.: Lockdown returns to UK city of Leicester
The British government is reimposing lockdown restrictions in Leicester following a rise in coronavirus infections.
Nonessential shops and most schools in the central city will have to close again on Thursday, just two weeks after reopening. Meanwhile, Saturday’s loosening of restrictions for pubs and restaurants across England will not be taking place in Leicester.
The city had “10% of all positive cases in the country over the past week,” U.K. Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock told lawmakers Monday.
Hancock said the reimposed measures would be enforced by local police “in some cases.”
It’s the country’s first such regional lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic.
7:53 a.m.: Hundreds of new cases reportedly linked to Myrtle Beach visits
Hundreds of new coronavirus cases have been linked to recent trips to South Carolina’s popular resort city, Myrtle Beach, according to reports from local ABC affiliates.
Dr. David Goodfriend, director of the Loudoun County Health Department in Virginia, told Washington, D.C. ABC affiliate WJLA that around 100 teenagers from the area have tested positive for COVID-19 after visiting Myrtle Beach.
“We’re starting to see more and more positive test results come in, and as we followed up on those, similarly, they had shared they had gone down to Myrtle Beach, at least the Myrtle Beach area,” Goodfriend said. “At least one group said there were about 40 folks staying in one house and they were having parties or being at parties with over 100 people in the house.”
Dr. Molly O’Dell, director of communicable disease control with the Virginia Department of Health’s Roanoke City-Alleghany Districts, told Lynchburg, Virginia ABC affiliate WSET that 130 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the area on Tuesday and that more than 100 of them are linked to Myrtle Beach visits.
O’Dell recommended anyone returning home from Myrtle Beach to self-quarantine for 14 days and watch for symptoms.
7:11 a.m.: 100K cases per day ‘is where we’re heading,’ Harvard doctor warns
Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, affirmed concerns voiced by the nation’s top infectious disease expert that the United States could see 100,000 new coronavirus cases per day.
“That is where we’re heading,” Jha told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview Wednesday on “Good Morning America.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease, made the stark warning during a Senate hearing on Tuesday, saying, “I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 [cases] a day if this does not turn around.”
But Jha said “there are things we can do right now” to “avoid the fate that Dr. Fauci mentioned.”
“First and foremost, I think we need every state to have a mandatory mask law. I just think we can’t dither around on masks; everybody needs to be wearing one when they’re outside of their home,” he said. “Second is, I think we just can’t right now afford indoor gatherings; so no bars, I don’t even know if we can keep restaurants open, certainly not nightclubs. We’ve got to get very serious about that. And then we’ve got to keep pushing on testing and tracing.”
If all else fails, “then you have to just essentially shut the state down,” Jha said.
“We’ve got to get on top of this otherwise we’ll find ourselves with some very unappetizing choices,” he added. “A stay-at-home order, in my mind, is really the last thing that you do when nothing else has worked.”
6:43 a.m.: Washington state sees 2nd-highest increase in cases
Washington state reported 571 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, marking its second-highest single-day increase since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The state’s highest single-day rise was set on June 19, when 619 new cases were confirmed.
Overall, the Washington State Department of Health has reported 32,824 confirmed cases with 1,332 deaths.
6:02 a.m.: Tokyo Disneyland reopens for 1st time in 4 months
Tokyo Disneyland reopened Wednesday after being closed for four months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 115-acre theme park in Urayasu, near Tokyo, has undertaken a new set of policies and safety measures to protect against COVID-19, such as temperature screenings and the mandatory use of face masks.
Tickets to the park must be purchased online in advance. A limited number of guests will be allowed at a time in attractions, shops, restaurants and other facilities. Disney characters must maintain social distancing while greeting guests. Meanwhile, the park’s signature shows and parades remain suspended to avoid the formation of crowds, according to information posted on the Tokyo Disneyland website.
Tokyo DisneySea also reopened in Urayasu on Wednesday. Both parks suspended operations on Feb. 29 due to coronavirus concerns.
Tokyo, which has reported the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country, permitted the area’s amusement parks to reopen in mid-June, after the Japanese government completely lifted the nationwide state of emergency in late May.
The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of ABC News.
5:35 a.m.: US reports nearly 44,800 new cases in a day
Nearly 44,800 new cases of COVID-19 were identified in the United States on Tuesday, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
The latest daily caseload is just under the country’s record high of more than 45,000 new cases identified last Friday.
The national total currently stands at 2,636,538 diagnosed cases with at least 127,425 deaths.
The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.
By May 20, all states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up to over 30,000 and then crossing 40,000 last week.
Nearly half of all 50 states have seen a rise in infections in recent weeks, with some — such as Florida, South Carolina and Georgia — reporting daily records.
3:38 a.m.: Europe reopens borders but US travelers remain barred
The European Union began opening its external borders on Wednesday, but travelers from the United States aren’t among those allowed to visit.
EU ambassadors have agreed on lifting travel restrictions for 15 countries based on the epidemiological situation and containment measures, including Australia, Canada, South Korea and Tunisia. China was also included on the list but with a caveat — the country must reciprocate by allowing EU travelers to visit.
Countries where coronavirus infections are on the rise were excluded from the list, noticeably the United States, Russia and Brazil.
The criteria requires that the number of new COVID-19 cases over the last 14 days per 100,000 people is similar or below that of the EU’s. According to The New York Times, the average among the 27 countries within the EU was 16 in mid-June; in the United States, it was 107.
The EU said countries must also have a “stable or decreasing trend of new cases over this period in comparison to the previous 14 days.” The bloc will consider the reliability of each nation’s data as well as what measures have been taken in response to their outbreaks, including contact tracing and testing. Reciprocity will also be taken into account.
In mid-March, U.S. President Donald Trump suspended most travel from Europe.
ABC News’ Brian Hartman, Mina Kaji, Gina Sunseri, Christine Theodorou and Scott Withers contributed to this report.