Australia’s most populous state reported 14 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, with a growing cluster at a pub used by freight drivers traveling the country adding to fears of a second wave of the virus.
The new cases in New South Wales come after neighboring Victoria last week forced about 5 million people back into lockdown after a surge of new coronavirus cases.
Australia has avoided the high COVID-19 casualty numbers of other nations with swift and strict measures, recording fewer than 10,000 coronavirus cases in total, or about a sixth of the daily cases seen in the U.S. in recent days.
However, authorities are worried about rising cases of community transmission. This accounted for eight of the 14 new cases in New South Wales in the last 24 hours, while the rest were people who have returned from overseas and are already in hotel quarantine or have returned from Victoria.
The bulk of these community transmission cases were people who recently visited a pub in southwest Sydney, the Crossroads Hotel, with authorities confirming Monday afternoon that there are 21 cases linked to that cluster. In a bid to curtail the spread, authorities urged anyone who attended the pub to isolate for two weeks and get tested. On Monday, long lines of cars were waiting more than three hours to attend a drive-through test clinic at the venue.
In Victoria, authorities on Monday reported 177 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, the eighth consecutive day of triple-digit rises in COVID-19 cases, but down from 273 cases the previous day.
Seventy-three key workers at a farm in the U.K. have tested positive for COVID-19 with dozens more now forced to self-isolate. Around 200 workers are employed for picking and packing work at the farm in Mathon, Herefordshire, in the west of England. Herefordshire Council is arranging food and essential supplies for residents on the site – who live in mobile homes based on the farm during the harvesting season – while they self-isolate.
In a statement farm owners AS Green and Co said: “Our work force and local community are our priority at this difficult time and we continue to follow the guidance of the relevant bodies to ensure that the spread of the virus is controlled and our workforce is supported.
“Public Health England advises that it is very unlikely COVID-19 can be transmitted through food or food packaging, so shoppers can remain confident buying British fruit and veg.”
The U.K. has recorded 44,819 deaths and 321,057 cases. Read more
— Sarah Turnnidge
Florida on Sunday reported more than 15,000 new cases of the coronavirus, setting a new national record for single-day tallies.
The total of 15,299 new cases, reported by Florida’s health department, is 2,452 cases higher than the daily record set by New York state in April, when it was the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak.
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has ordered bars to close in response to the outbreak, but has resisted calls for a statewide mandate to wear masks in public.
Single-day records were also reported in some of Florida’s largest cities on Sunday, including Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Fort Myers, West Palm Beach, Pensacola and Sarasota.
Read more here.
— Nina Golgowski
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) announced a new mask mandate Saturday as the state’s coronavirus crisis rapidly worsened. People aged 8 and up will be required to don a face covering in public, beginning at 12:01 a.m. Monday.
“At the end of the day, while I know that this is going to be unpopular with some and controversial with some, we know that face masks work. It really is that simple,” Edwards said in a news conference. “For some reason in this country and in the state of Louisiana, there has been a political dynamic that has emerged around the whole issue of masks. That doesn’t make any sense to me.”
Bars, which were permitted to reopen last month under the state’s phase two guidelines, will be ordered to close again.
Cases of COVID-19 have spiked in the last month across Louisiana, where the virus once appeared to be concentrated in the New Orleans area. The state has seen nearly 77,000 confirmed cases since the crisis began and in recent days has been adding new cases at a pace of roughly 2,000 per day. Much of the surge can be attributed to people who gather in bars and backyards, according to Edwards.
Edwards halted any further plans to reopen parts of the economy, saying Louisiana will remain in phase two at least until July 24. Certain parishes and municipalities will be able to opt out of the mask mandate, but only if they do not exceed a threshold of cases.
The Southern state’s actions followed a recent trend of backtracking on reopening across parts of the U.S. amid skyrocketing case counts. Local news outlets have reported that intensive care unit beds have become a scarce commodity in some of the state’s hospitals — meaning that some of the sickest patients could face difficulty obtaining treatment.
— Sara Boboltz
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