What you need to know about COVID-19: US marks Fourth of July with pleas for people to skip parties

After a week of skyrocketing coronavirus cases in the United States, officials are issuing a stark warning this Fourth of July: Skip the parties.If you really have to go, wear a mask, wash your hands and maintain social distancing. And if you must host, keep the information of all attendees for future contact tracing.Coronavirus cases are rising in 36 states heading into the weekend — with California, Arizona, Texas and Florida all posting a record number of new infections this week.Florida again shattered its daily record for new coronavirus cases in a single day Saturday with health officials reporting more than 11,000 confirmed cases.After months of coronavirus restrictions, people restless to get back to normal are planning barbecues, dips in lakes and gatherings to watch fireworks.But some are finding beaches in Miami and Los Angeles closed, tubing in Texas rivers banned and some city celebrations happening mostly on live streams. With states such as Arizona banning public events larger than 50 people, some officials are canceling annual fireworks altogether.Without the right measures to stop the spread of the virus, health experts fear the holiday weekend could bring a wave of new infections that could overwhelm hospitals. To avoid a public health disaster, they’re imploring people to wear masks, skip bars and crowded places, and avoid mixing with people outside of their households.”What we know is that our behavior is the most powerful tool we have right now against the virus,” said Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, surgeon general of California. “And we really need folks to, you know, step up. I know that folks are tired, but it’s absolutely critically important.”The latest numbersThe U.S. has reported more than 2.7 million cases of the virus and at least 129,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.The number of new cases surpassed 50,000 nationwide for the third straight day Friday.With mask mandates for Texas and Kansas going into effect Friday, 19 states and Washington, D.C., now have such requirements. Other governors have also issued statewide orders, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois and Michigan. And in Tennessee, Gov. Bill Lee signed an executive order granting mayors in 89 counties the authority to issue mask requirements. It allows local governments to issue the mandates if a surge requires more preventative measures being taken to slow the spread of the virus.”While our densely populated urban areas continue to have the highest COVID-19 case rates, our local governments expressed a need for greater flexibility in addressing a rise in cases and that includes setting stronger expectations around masks,” Lee said in a statement. “This targeted approach ensures we protect both lives and livelihoods and safely keep our economy open in Tennessee.”In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the beaches will be open to thousands of visitors for the holiday weekend — but with a mask requirement to help stop the spread, Mayor Brenda Bethune said.Of the 36 states whose new cases have gone up this week compared to the previous one, nine of them have increased by over 50%. They are Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana, Alaska and Delaware.Health care workers make plea to governorIn Georgia, where coronavirus cases have surged in the past week compared to the one prior, health care workers made a passionate plea.More than 1,400 of them signed a letter addressed to Gov. Brian Kemp asking for him to increase state restrictions to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.The letter dated Thursday urged the governor to close bars and nightclubs and prohibit indoor gatherings of more than 25 people, including at places of worship. It also recommends a statewide face covering requirement that allows mayors and county officials to institute requirements appropriate for their jurisdictions.”During the past week we have seen a sharp spike in cases that cannot be accounted for by increased testing. We also are seeing a very troubling increase in hospitalizations that, if continuing, will overwhelm our healthcare infrastructure, not only in metro Atlanta but also in rural Georgia,” the letter said.Dr. Jesse Couk, the chair of Infectious Disease Shepherd Center and a doctor at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, told CNN he worked with other doctors and health care professionals to create the letter after he became frustrated with lack of action in response to the spike in cases.Couk and other medical contacts worked together to create the letter and have other health care professionals sign it. He wanted to highlight the need for increased social distancing and further restrictions to slow the spread. He said he was speaking as a member of the Infectious Disease Society of Georgia and not as a representative of Piedmont Atlanta.Hospitals reach capacity in two Texas countiesHospitals in at least two Texas counties are at full capacity heading into the Fourth of July holiday weekend, with county judges urging residents to shelter in place.Judges in Starr and Hidalgo counties sent out emergency alerts Friday, warning residents that local hospitals in the Rio Grande Valley were at capacity.Judge Eloy Vera said there have been 18 deaths in Starr County due to COVID-19 and two severely ill patients had to be flown out of the area for treatment. One of the patients was taken to San Antonio and the other to Dallas, the judge said in the post on Facebook.”The local and valley hospitals are at full capacity and have no more beds available. I urge all of our residents to please shelter-in-place, wear face coverings, practice social distancing and AVOID GATHERINGS,” he wrote.Vera issued a public safety alert announcing a “Level 1 Severe” threat due to the virus spreading rapidly across the county.In neighboring Hidalgo County, Judge Richard Cortez mirrored the warning.In a public safety alert posted on Twitter, he also announced hospitals were at capacity and asked residents to shelter in place, avoid large gatherings, wear face coverings and practice social distancing.In the post, Cortez asked residents to celebrate the Fourth of July “responsibly,” and to “Conserve resources; ONLY call 911 if absolutely necessary.” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Thursday requiring masks to be worn in public spaces in counties with 20 or more COVID-19 cases. He also gave mayors and judges the mandate to restrict gatherings of 10 or more people.”Wearing a face covering in public is proven to be one of the most effective ways we have to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Abbott said in a statement.”We have the ability to keep businesses open and move our economy forward so that Texans can continue to earn a paycheck, but it requires each of us to do our part to protect one another — and that means wearing a face covering in public spaces,” he said. “Likewise, large gatherings are a clear contributor to the rise in COVID-19 cases. Restricting the size of groups gatherings will strengthen Texas’ ability to corral this virus and keep Texans safe.” Texas is expected to see nearly 2,000 new hospitalizations per day by mid-July, according to forecasts published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On Friday, Texas reported a third day of new COVID-19 cases topping 7,000, according to state health department data. Stop the spread of COVID-19To help stop the spread of the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend wearing a cloth face mask in public, which is a requirement in some states.Experts also recommend you keep 6 feet between yourself and others.Make sure to wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.For more tips on how to stay safe, CLICK HERE.

After a week of skyrocketing coronavirus cases in the United States, officials are issuing a stark warning this Fourth of July: Skip the parties.

If you really have to go, wear a mask, wash your hands and maintain social distancing. And if you must host, keep the information of all attendees for future contact tracing.

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Coronavirus cases are rising in 36 states heading into the weekend — with California, Arizona, Texas and Florida all posting a record number of new infections this week.

Florida again shattered its daily record for new coronavirus cases in a single day Saturday with health officials reporting more than 11,000 confirmed cases.

After months of coronavirus restrictions, people restless to get back to normal are planning barbecues, dips in lakes and gatherings to watch fireworks.

But some are finding beaches in Miami and Los Angeles closed, tubing in Texas rivers banned and some city celebrations happening mostly on live streams. With states such as Arizona banning public events larger than 50 people, some officials are canceling annual fireworks altogether.

Without the right measures to stop the spread of the virus, health experts fear the holiday weekend could bring a wave of new infections that could overwhelm hospitals. To avoid a public health disaster, they’re imploring people to wear masks, skip bars and crowded places, and avoid mixing with people outside of their households.

“What we know is that our behavior is the most powerful tool we have right now against the virus,” said Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, surgeon general of California. “And we really need folks to, you know, step up. I know that folks are tired, but it’s absolutely critically important.”

The latest numbers

The U.S. has reported more than 2.7 million cases of the virus and at least 129,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The number of new cases surpassed 50,000 nationwide for the third straight day Friday.

With mask mandates for Texas and Kansas going into effect Friday, 19 states and Washington, D.C., now have such requirements.

Other governors have also issued statewide orders, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois and Michigan. And in Tennessee, Gov. Bill Lee signed an executive order granting mayors in 89 counties the authority to issue mask requirements. It allows local governments to issue the mandates if a surge requires more preventative measures being taken to slow the spread of the virus.

“While our densely populated urban areas continue to have the highest COVID-19 case rates, our local governments expressed a need for greater flexibility in addressing a rise in cases and that includes setting stronger expectations around masks,” Lee said in a statement. “This targeted approach ensures we protect both lives and livelihoods and safely keep our economy open in Tennessee.”

In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the beaches will be open to thousands of visitors for the holiday weekend — but with a mask requirement to help stop the spread, Mayor Brenda Bethune said.

Of the 36 states whose new cases have gone up this week compared to the previous one, nine of them have increased by over 50%. They are Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana, Alaska and Delaware.

Health care workers make plea to governor

In Georgia, where coronavirus cases have surged in the past week compared to the one prior, health care workers made a passionate plea.

More than 1,400 of them signed a letter addressed to Gov. Brian Kemp asking for him to increase state restrictions to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The letter dated Thursday urged the governor to close bars and nightclubs and prohibit indoor gatherings of more than 25 people, including at places of worship. It also recommends a statewide face covering requirement that allows mayors and county officials to institute requirements appropriate for their jurisdictions.

“During the past week we have seen a sharp spike in cases that cannot be accounted for by increased testing. We also are seeing a very troubling increase in hospitalizations that, if continuing, will overwhelm our healthcare infrastructure, not only in metro Atlanta but also in rural Georgia,” the letter said.

Dr. Jesse Couk, the chair of Infectious Disease Shepherd Center and a doctor at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, told CNN he worked with other doctors and health care professionals to create the letter after he became frustrated with lack of action in response to the spike in cases.

Couk and other medical contacts worked together to create the letter and have other health care professionals sign it. He wanted to highlight the need for increased social distancing and further restrictions to slow the spread. He said he was speaking as a member of the Infectious Disease Society of Georgia and not as a representative of Piedmont Atlanta.

Hospitals reach capacity in two Texas counties

Hospitals in at least two Texas counties are at full capacity heading into the Fourth of July holiday weekend, with county judges urging residents to shelter in place.

Judges in Starr and Hidalgo counties sent out emergency alerts Friday, warning residents that local hospitals in the Rio Grande Valley were at capacity.

Judge Eloy Vera said there have been 18 deaths in Starr County due to COVID-19 and two severely ill patients had to be flown out of the area for treatment. One of the patients was taken to San Antonio and the other to Dallas, the judge said in the post on Facebook.

“The local and valley hospitals are at full capacity and have no more beds available. I urge all of our residents to please shelter-in-place, wear face coverings, practice social distancing and AVOID GATHERINGS,” he wrote.

Vera issued a public safety alert announcing a “Level 1 Severe” threat due to the virus spreading rapidly across the county.

In neighboring Hidalgo County, Judge Richard Cortez mirrored the warning.

In a public safety alert posted on Twitter, he also announced hospitals were at capacity and asked residents to shelter in place, avoid large gatherings, wear face coverings and practice social distancing.

In the post, Cortez asked residents to celebrate the Fourth of July “responsibly,” and to “Conserve resources; ONLY call 911 if absolutely necessary.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Thursday requiring masks to be worn in public spaces in counties with 20 or more COVID-19 cases. He also gave mayors and judges the mandate to restrict gatherings of 10 or more people.

“Wearing a face covering in public is proven to be one of the most effective ways we have to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Abbott said in a statement.

“We have the ability to keep businesses open and move our economy forward so that Texans can continue to earn a paycheck, but it requires each of us to do our part to protect one another — and that means wearing a face covering in public spaces,” he said. “Likewise, large gatherings are a clear contributor to the rise in COVID-19 cases. Restricting the size of groups gatherings will strengthen Texas’ ability to corral this virus and keep Texans safe.”

Texas is expected to see nearly 2,000 new hospitalizations per day by mid-July, according to forecasts published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Friday, Texas reported a third day of new COVID-19 cases topping 7,000, according to state health department data.

Stop the spread of COVID-19

To help stop the spread of the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend wearing a cloth face mask in public, which is a requirement in some states.

Experts also recommend you keep 6 feet between yourself and others.

Make sure to wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

For more tips on how to stay safe, CLICK HERE.