AP Report: Virus Soars in Sunbelt States, Brazil

Bars Closing
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Virus cases soar in US Sunbelt, other states stop reopening; Closing bars to halt spread backed by science

Arizona’s outbreak has grown in severity across the board. California closed bars, theaters and indoor restaurant dining all over again in most of the state.

America’s surging virus crisis across the South and West has sent a shudder through the country.

It’s being blamed on Americans not wearing masks or obeying social-distancing rules as economies reopened from coast to coast over the past two months.

With July 4 approaching, one of the biggest weekends of the summer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised people to wear face coverings at the beach, though not in the water.

Closing Bars: Authorities are closing honky tonks, bars and other drinking establishments in some parts of the U.S. to stem the surge of COVID-19 infections. Clusters of cases have been linked to bars. Experts agree there’s sound science behind the move, reports Carla J. Johnson.

U.S. Jobs Report: Employers likely rehired around 3 million more workers in June, thereby reducing a Depression-level unemployment rate, but the most up-to-date data suggests that a resurgent coronavirus will limit further job gains, reports Christopher Rugaber. The jobs report will be released at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

  • The number of confirmed infections in India has topped 600,000, with health authorities reporting 19,148 new cases in the past 24 hours. India’s Health Ministry said the death toll from the virus was now 17,834 people.
  •  An outbreak in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, has continued to grow. Most of the latest cases were in suburbs that were put under a one-month lockdown Wednesday night.

More from AP’s Global and U.S. teams:

  • Does wearing a mask pose any health risks?  The AP is answering Viral Questions in this series.
  • South Africa Tobacco Ban: The country is three months into a ban on the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products, an unusual tactic employed by a government to protect the health of its citizens during the pandemic, which the tobacco industry says is not based on scientific evidence. There are also signs the ban isn’t working and most of South Africa’s 9 million smokers are getting cigarettes from illegal sources.
  • Lives Lost: The death toll in Brazil keeps rising and among the dead is a little girl named Vitoria Gabrielle from a working class Rio de Janeiro neighborhood. Her mother thinks her 14-month-old daughter got infected while undergoing treatment for gastrointestinal problems in a hospital. She was just starting to walk with help from others but died on May 4.
  • Afghanistan Oxygen: In the One Good Thing series — For seven years, Najibullah Seddiqi’s oxygen factory sat idle in Kabul because corruption and power cuts made it impossible to work. But he opened the factory’s dusty gates and went back to work and now he refills hundreds of oxygen cylinders a day for free for COVID-19 patients, and at reduced rates for hospitals.
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