COVID-19 cases around the world topped 14 million Friday, with the World Health Organization reporting nearly a quarter-million new confirmed cases in a single day.
The United States led the world with 3.6 million cases, according to Johns Hopkins University, with American officials renewing debates over mask mandates and the reopening of schools.
U.S. President Donald Trump said he would not consider a national mask mandate, saying in an interview on Fox News to be broadcast Sunday, “I want people to have a certain freedom, and I don’t believe in that.”
Millions of U.S. children learned Friday they would not be returning to school because of the pandemic.
California Governor Gavin Newsom announced strict rules for reopening schools in his state, making it likely most districts will be unable to open as planned in the fall while the city of Chicago announced children would return to school for in-person learning for just two days a week. Texas officials said schools could hold online-only instruction for up to the first eight weeks of the school year.
An unpublished report by the White House Coronavirus Task Force recommends that 18 U.S. states impose more stringent lockdown measures.
A document obtained by the nonprofit Center for Public Integrity suggested that the states, which are experiencing sharp spikes in coronavirus infections, curtail reopening plans.
In addition to infections, the U.S. also continued to lead the world in COVID-19 deaths, with more than 139,000, according to Johns Hopkins statistics.
The coronavirus pandemic continues a steady climb as it ravages locations around the world.
India became the third country in the world to record more than 1 million coronavirus cases, following the U.S. and Brazil. That comes a day after Brazil’s announcement that the country had surpassed 2 million cases.
Brazilian health experts blame the federal government for the high toll.
“The virus would have been difficult to stop anyway. But this milestone of 2 million cases, which is very underestimated, shows this could have been different,” said Dr. Adriano Massuda, a health care professor at Sao Paulo’s Getulio Vargas Foundation University. “There’s no national strategy for testing, no measures from the top … too little effort to improve basic care so we find serious cases before they become too serious, no tracking.”
Although the number of cases appears to be ebbing in some of the larger Brazilian cities, it is now starting to hit places that had been spared.
The World Health Organization said Friday the country is “still in the middle of this fight.”
In Europe, leaders gathered in Brussels on Friday for a two-day meeting to negotiate the terms of an $855 billion economic rescue plan. It was their first in-person meeting in Brussels in five months. Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said EU leaders’ views on the stimulus plan remained “diametrically different” after Friday’s talks.
In Spain, officials asked residents in the city of Barcelona to stay at home as much as possible to stop the spread of the virus.
Israel imposed a new weekend shutdown in an attempt to lower infection rates.
Another trial of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine has proved it to be ineffective as an early treatment for mild cases of COVID-19, researchers at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine have concluded.
“There is not convincing evidence that hydroxychloroquine can either prevent COVID-19 after exposure or reduce illness severity after developing early symptoms,” said Caleb Skipper, lead author of the study. “While disappointing, these results are consistent with an emerging body of literature that hydroxychloroquine doesn’t convey a substantial clinical benefit in people diagnosed with COVID-19, despite its activity against the coronavirus in a test tube.”
Trump had hyped hydroxychloroquine as an effective treatment early in the pandemic and said he took the drug himself. He has tested negative for the coronavirus.
After initially approving it as an emergency treatment, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reversed itself once doctors warned of potentially deadly side effects.
Source: Voice Of America