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Experts urge caution ahead of holiday weekend
02:34 - Source: CNN

What you need to know

  • Officials urged Americans to skip July Fourth parties today to avoid more coronavirus outbreaks.
  • Cases are increasing in at least 37 states. Florida today reported more than 11,000 new cases in a single day — a record for the state.
  • Anyone traveling from the US to Britain will have to self-isolate for 14 days starting on July 10.
  • Brazil, second only to the US for Covid-19 cases and deaths, surpassed 1.5 million coronavirus cases.

Our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic has ended for the evening.

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Australian Medical Association calls for pause on easing Covid-19 restrictions

Following a spike in coronavirus cases in Melbourne, Australia — and a “hard lockdown” of more than 3,000 people in public housing towers — the Australian Medical Association has called for a pause in easing Covid-19 restrictions until clear evidence shows the outbreaks in Melbourne are under control.

Association President Dr. Tony Bartone said the new outbreaks are a stark reminder the fight against coronavirus is far from over, according to a press release from the association.

“These new outbreaks send a strong signal that the other States should rethink the pace of easing of their COVID-19 restrictions until community transmission in Melbourne is under control to avoid the risk of a similar situation playing out in their own communities,” Dr. Bartone said.

Coronavirus cases have been rising sharply across the state of Victoria for nearly 3 weeks. Bartone said the outbreaks were “directly linked to failures to follow established and successful public health guidelines” and that Australia should play it safe before “rushing back to the pub, the footy crowds, or the big weddings and parties.”

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher opts out of 2020 MLB season

Dodgers pitcher David Price, left, looks on during a spring training workout in Glendale, Arizona, on February 20. Price announced on Twitter that he will not play in the 2020 MLB season.

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher David Price announced on Twitter that he has chosen to opt out of playing in the 2020 MLB season. In a statement, Price said the decision was made in the best interest of his health and his family’s health.

This would have been Price’s first season as a member of the Dodgers. Price is a five-time All-Star and the 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner.

Several other baseball players have decided to opt out as well because of health concerns due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Washington Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman and pitcher Joe Ross will not play in the 2020 season, the team confirmed Monday. Arizona Diamondbacks right-handed pitcher Mike Leake also has decided not to play this season, according to a statement from his agent.

Monday night, Colorado Rockies outfielder Ian Desmond posted an emotional message on Instagram stating he will not play this season. The 34-year-old, who is biracial, made reference to the ongoing racial tensions in the country and the pandemic.

Read David Price’s full statement:

Dear Dodgers Nation,
After considerable thought and discussion with my family and the Dodgers, I have decided it is in the best interest of my health and my family’s health for me to not play this season. I will miss my teammates and will be cheering for them throughout the season and on to a World Series victory. I’m sorry I won’t be playing for you this season, but look forward to representing you next year. 
Stay safe, be well, and be kind. And Go Dodgers! 
David Price

Many White House attendees aren’t social distancing or wearing masks before Trump’s July Fourth remarks

Guests attend the Salute to America event at the White House on Saturday.

Despite the surge of coronavirus cases across the United States, many attendees seen at the White House’s Salute to America event on the South Lawn are not practicing social distancing or wearing masks ahead of President Donald Trump’s Fourth of July remarks. 

The Washington, DC, celebration does not appear to be following US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines concerning gatherings despite deputy White House press secretary Judd Deere telling CNN this week that the White House would enforce social distancing.

CNN has asked the White House whether guests are being tested or having temperatures checked but has yet to receive a response. The White House stopped temperature checks of all those entering the White House grounds weeks ago. Reporters at Saturday’s event have not been tested or received a temperature check. 

A campaign aide familiar with the President’s prepared remarks for Saturday night characterized them as “patriotic” and said the President will celebrate America’s founding and the triumphs of American history while saluting the US military. The aide said the President “will appeal to the very best in the American Character.”

Blue Angels cancel performance citing rising Covid-19 cases

The US Navy Blue Angels team have canceled their 2020 Pensacola Beach Air Show performance, according to a press release from the Santa Rosa Island Authority. The air show was scheduled to take place July 8-11 in Pensacola, Florida.

“After much discussion and consideration regarding the current rise in COVID cases in our hometown, we have come to the conclusion that canceling our flights during the Pensacola Beach Air Show is the only way we can ensure the safety of our community we love so much,” the Blue Angels said in the statement.

“Each year we look forward to the opportunity to fly for our friends, family and neighbors here in Pensacola. This was not an easy decision to make,” the statement said. “Unfortunately, we are navigating very uncertain and unpredictable times. We felt this was the necessary decision to make in an effort to keep our community safe.”

The authority says it plans to host the event again in 2021, on July 9-10.

Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez tests positive for coronavirus

Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez walks towards the dugout during a spring training game in Phoenix on February 27.

The Kansas City Royals announced Saturday that catcher Salvador Perez has tested positive for Covid-19. The MLB team said, however, that Perez is asymptomatic.

Perez does not know how he contracted the virus.

“I don’t feel anything. I’m in my home right now,” Perez told reporters. “Nobody in my family is positive. Everybody is negative. Everybody took the test two days ago and yesterday, too.”

MLB and the MLB Players Association on Friday announced the first set of results for Covid-19 testing before the start of workouts and full baseball activities. Thirty-one players and 7 staff members tested positive out of 3,185 samples that were collected.

“I can’t wait to be back. I know it’s going to take me at least 12 days,” Perez said, “but I’m good. I don’t feel anything.”

He added, “Hopefully everything passes super-fast, and I can be back with the guys on the field.”

The MLB season resumed Wednesday with players reporting to training. Games are scheduled to start on July 23 or 24.

Texas reported its second-highest day of new Covid-19 cases

Health care workers move a coronavirus patient at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, on Thursday, July 2.

The Texas Department of State Health Services reported 8,258 new cases of Covid-19 in Texas on Saturday — the state’s second-highest number of new cases reported in a single day.

Of the new cases reported Saturday, about 1,200 were in Harris County, which includes Houston. Dallas County had 1,085 new cases, according to DSHS.

The highest daily total was set on Wednesday, when the state reported 9,308 cases.

The following day, Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order mandating face covering in public for counties that have 20 or more positive Covid-19 cases.

“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.”

What you should know before heading out to watch fireworks tonight

Fireworks are arguably the best part of Fourth of July. But this year, as coronavirus cases rise across many parts of the US, gathering at the park or the beach to watch spectacular shows is more dangerous than usual.

Staying home and lighting your own fireworks if you live in a state where that is allowed and you have the space to do it is the best idea.

But if you’d rather go to the park or beach to watch them, there are a few steps you should take to stay safe:

  • As always, wear a mask when you are near people.
  • Always maintain social distancing, and avoid going if it is too crowded to do so.
  • Bring your own chairs or blankets, and wash your hands if you touch any kind of shared surfaces.

While this year might look a little different than usual, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the holiday weekend with friends and family. Just stay safe — not just for you, but for everyone around you.

California's Huntington Beach was packed 3 weeks ago. Today, it's eerily empty.

Huntington Beach in Southern California would normally be jammed towel-to-towel with beachgoers on a July Fourth weekend. 

But this year, Los Angeles-area beaches are closed for the holiday as the state continues to see increases in coronavirus cases. Today, the Huntington Beach sat empty:

The comparison is jarring when you look at photos from just a few weeks ago. On June 14, crowds packed Huntington Beach:

People enjoy the beach in Huntington Beach, California, on June 14.

Huntington Beach also canceled its annual Fourth of July parade. Instead, the city put on a neighborhood tour — two small 20-vehicle caravans that weaved through the streets with local dignitaries, replicas of famous screen and Volkswagen buses.

Brazil marks 50 days without official health minister during coronavirus pandemic

Former Brazilian Health Minister Nelson Teich announces his resignation during a press conference on May 15 in Brasilia, Brazil.

Brazil marked 50 days without an official health minister today, as the country reports more than 1.5 million coronavirus cases.

The position is temporarily occupied by Army General Eduardo Pazuello, who has no previous medical experience, since the last Health Minister, Nelson Teich, resigned on May 15.

Teich, who spent less than a month in office, left following criticism from President Jair Bolsonaro that he was “too timid in the push to reopen the economy and to advocate for the use of chloroquine.” Teich, however, didn’t provide a reason for his resignation.

Teich’s predecesor, Luiz Henrique Mandetta — who advocated for social distancing measures, the use of masks, and never clearly recommended the use of chloroquine — was fired by Bolsonaro. 

Bolsonaro, who frequently defies social distancing guidelines recommended by most health experts and has dismissed the virus as “a little flu,” has been widely criticized for downplaying the severity of the virus. 

Under Pazuello’s interim command, more than 20 strategic positions within the ministry have been replaced with military personnel. Nonetheless, the greatest criticism against him came when following Bolsonaro’s orders and desire to reduce the negative repercussion of the high death toll, he changed the format of how the data was presented. 

After strong domestic and international pressure, Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court ruled that data should be presented as before. Despite the continued rise in Covid-19 cases and related deaths, Bolsonaro shows no signs of planning to replace Pazuello any time soon. 

With more than 1.5 million confirmed cases and at least 63,174 deaths, Brazil has the second highest number coronavirus cases and deaths globally after the US. 

What it's like at US beaches on Fourth of July weekend during a pandemic

It’s the Fourth of July holiday weekend in the US, and some Americans have altered their celebrations as coronavirus cases increase in states across the country.

What’s allowed on beaches — a staple of the summer holiday — varies from place to place. While some beaches, like those in New York City, reopened before the holiday, some in hard hit areas, like in Miami and Los Angeles, temporarily closed for the weekend to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Beachgoers were seen walking in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, this morning, despite rising case numbers in the state.

People walk along the beach on the morning of July 4 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Beaches were also open for the holiday in New Jersey.

A discarded mask floats in the ocean on July 3 in Wildwood, New Jersey.

In California, Los Angeles-area beaches closed on Friday and will remain closed until Monday, officials announced earlier this week. Violators could face fines.

A man skates along the closed and nearly empty Santa Monica beach on July 3 in Santa Monica, California.

Parks staff working Mount Rushmore event not required to get tested for coronavirus

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive onstage during an event at Mount Rushmore on July 3 in Keystone, South Dakota.

The National Park Service did not require employees who worked President Trump’s Mount Rushmore event yesterday to get tested for coronavirus, according to NPS spokesperson for the incident management team Dana Soehn. 

Soehn said face masks were available to all employees who worked the event and using them was recommended at all times when social distancing could not be maintained.

Some NPS staff were seen wearing masks at the event and others were not.

“The NPS is following CDC guidance for health monitoring of the work force. Park management is taking action based on federal and state guidance and specific conditions at each site for phased reopening. [Department of Interior] employees are encouraged to conduct daily self-monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19 using the CDC symptom webpage or the CDC Self-Checker, and to not report to the workplace if they exhibit any symptoms or feeling unwell. None of the Incident Management Team members for the event have reported exhibiting any symptoms or feeling unwell,” Soen said.

About the event: President Trump spoke at the event, mentioning the virus just once, at the very top of his remarks, thanking those working to fight it.

Attendees clustered together in stadium seating in front of a patriotic-themed stage for hours before Trump arrived, and people at the top of the amphitheater sat in rows of folding chairs that were tied together with zip ties — preventing any social distancing.

US labs report Covid-19 testing delays as case numbers rise

Major commercial laboratories in the United States are reporting delays in returning Covid-19 test results as the pandemic rages on and case numbers surge in parts of the country.

While the number of tests conducted across the US increases, experts say long turnaround times can make it difficult to isolate confirmed cases and quickly quarantine their close contacts.

Quest Diagnostics, a commercial laboratory, said this week that testing demand has reached “unprecedented levels,” leading to delays. LabCorp, another laboratory, is reporting delays too. 

While Quest can provide results in a day for priority patients – including sick health care workers and people in the hospital – the company said its average turnaround time is three to five days for most other patients.

“In our media statement posted June 25, we communicated that we are experiencing surging demand for our COVID-19 molecular diagnostic testing services. We also communicated that this demand is likely to extend average turnaround times for reporting test results near term,” the company said. “Since that statement, we have continued to experience surging demand for these services, with recent daily orders outpacing capacity.”

That is the most current information available from Quest, according to company spokesperson Kimberly Gorode.

LabCorp is now taking one to two days longer to report results, the company told CNN in a statement Saturday. The company’s current turnaround time is two to four days on average.

“In recent weeks, we have seen a steady increase in demand for molecular testing and we are doing everything we can to continue delivering results in a timely manner while continually increasing testing capacity,” LabCorp said.

Take these precautions if you're hosting a barbecue today

Many Americans typically mark the Fourth of July with backyard barbecues with family and friends. Those kinds of celebration might look a little different this year because of coronavirus.

Depending on your state, there may be regulations and limits on how many people can attend a social gathering.

Remember that the more people you come in contact with, the higher your risk of getting infected. If you are going to invite people you haven’t been isolating with, there are a few precautions you can take to make your cookout safer:

  • Have everyone bring their own food and plastic utensils. This means no shared bowl of chips. Hot dogs and hamburgers should go directly from the grill to a person’s plate, not to a big tray of food. Different households should sit together — separately.
  • If you have a lot of people in attendance, it’s also a good idea to wear a mask.
  • If guests have no choice but to go inside your home to use the bathroom, have all the doors going toward the bathroom open, so no one has to touch any other handles. Have guests use a piece of tissue to open and close the bathroom door and make a note to close the toilet seat before flushing.

How Nathan's Famous annual hot dog eating contest played out during the pandemic

Competitive eaters Miki Sudo, left, and Joey Chestnut, right, pose for a photograph at the weigh-in the day before the Nathan's Famous July Fourth hot dog eating contest on July 3 in New York.

Defending champions Joey Chestnut and Miki Sudo won the 2020 Nathan’s Famous July Fourth hot dog eating contest today. 

The annual event looked a little different this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. The contest is traditionally held on Brooklyn’s Coney Island, at Nathan’s famed flagship restaurant. But the 2020 edition took place at an undisclosed dining locale, with social distancing measures in place. 

The 36-year-old Chestnut ate 75 hot dogs to set a new world-record in the 10-minute span to win the men’s contest for the 13th time in his career. Chestnut — who has won 13 out of the last 14 years — broke his previous record of 7, which was set in 2018.  

Sudo set the women’s record in her victory, eating a total of 48 1/2 hot dogs in 10 minutes to win the contest for the 7th time.  

Competitive eater Miki Sudo, center, competes in the women's division of the Nathan's Famous July Fourth hot dog eating contest on July 4 in New York.

Houston-area county bans some outdoor gatherings of 10 people or more

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo issued a countywide order prohibiting outdoor gatherings of 10 or more people, except for some Independence Day activities.

The order, which was issued on Friday, says fireworks displays/gatherings with more than 100 people are allowed only if people view the celebrations from inside a motor vehicle.

The order is in effect until at least 11:59 p.m. local time on Aug. 26. 

Other exceptions to this order include gatherings of 10 or more people at:

  • Religious services
  • Local government operations
  • Child care services
  • Youth camps
  • Recreational sports programs for youths and adults
  • Professional, collegiate, or similar sporting events
  • Swimming pools
  • Water parks
  • Museums and libraries
  • Zoos, aquariums, natural caverns, and similar facilities
  • Rodeos and equestrian events
  • Amusement parks.

Harris County includes Houston, which has seen increased coronavirus cases in recent days.

At least two Harris County hospitals are “pretty much at maximum capacity,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said earlier this week.