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U.S. confirmed COVID-19 cases climb to record highs as 4th of July weekend begins

By Jean Lotus
U.S. confirmed COVID-19 cases climb to record highs as 4th of July weekend begins
Confirmed coronavirus cases rose to more than 52,000 in one day in the United States, as Americans celebrated the Independence Day weekend. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

July 3 (UPI) -- The number of U.S. confirmed coronavirus cases climbed to record highs as residents celebrated the Independence Day weekend Friday, with daily case numbers increasing in 40 out of 50 states.

More than 52,000 cases were reported on Thursday, exceeding the highest daily record of 50,000 earlier in the week, according to an online tracker published by Johns Hopkins University.

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U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Friday recommended wearing a face covering for anyone who planned to celebrate the Independence Day holiday in a crowd. Adams stopped short of advising people not to attend public events, such as Friday's fireworks display at Mount Rushmore.

"Every single person has to make up their own mind," Adams said on an appearance on Today. "There are going to be people going to beaches, going to barbecues, going to different environments and they have to look at their individual risk ... I would say to people is if you do go out to a gathering or in public, please wear a face covering,"

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Other doctors worried that the holiday could cause a spike because people were traveling and celebrating in large groups. The holiday could be the "perfect storm" for spreading the virus, Joshua Barocas, an infectious disease doctor at Boston Medical Center told CNN.

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that organizers of any large public event post signs urging social distancing, face coverings and hand washing in "highly visible locations" and offering public hand-washing stations. The CDC advises people to stay home if they are experiencing symptoms or at greater risk of COVID-19.

As Americans began to celebrate the holiday, local leaders in virus hotspots urged residents to avoid large crowds and to wear masks and practice social distancing at cookouts and parties.

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In Florida, where more than 10,000 new cases were reported in a single day Thursday, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez issued a curfew beginning Friday night between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. County residents are required to wear masks in public indoors and outdoors, the mayor announced.

"The curfew is meant to stop people from venturing out and hanging out with friends in groups, which has shown to be spreading the virus rapidly," Gimenez said.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber compared staying home and wearing mask to the civic response that Floridians showed during other emergencies, such as hurricanes.

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"What's more American than sacrificing for a family member or friend or a stranger? And that I think is what people should be thinking about," Gelber said.

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Florida's case numbers have risen with another 9,488 new cases of coronavirus and 67 new deaths reported Friday, according to the state health department. The state reported 178,594 total confirmed cases and 3,684 deaths as of Friday.

In Arizona, protests are planned July 4 at the sate Capitol against Gov. Doug Ducey's Monday executive order to re-close bars, gyms and other businesses as active cases spiked in the state. Gatherings of more than 50 people were prohibited by Ducey, which canceled parades and fireworks shows for the Independence Day holiday.

Some Arizona towns said they would hold festivities anyway.

"It is somewhat alarming how many expect and almost invite a more drastic infringement on their freedoms," Bryce Hamblin, mayor of Eagar in eastern Arizona told AZCentral.com

The state's health department reported 4,433 confirmed cases Friday with 31 deaths. The state has seen a total of almost 92,000 confirmed cases with 1,788 deaths. The state reported that 1,520 or 91 percent of the state's adult intensive care beds are currently in use.

In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Thursday requiring the wearing of masks in public in counties with more than 20 cases of hospitalized patients.

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A July 1 report from UT Southwestern Medical Center warned that Independence Day celebrations could lead to "exponential case growth" in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

"Any bump from the July 4th holiday or a decrease in the compliance of the physical distancing, masking, hand hygiene, and crowd management policies could leave many Dallas County hospitals with capacity changes by mid-July," the report said.

The number of confirmed cases increased Thursday by almost 7,700 cases from 172,753 to 180,445, according to the Houston Chronicle. The number of deaths increased by 42 Thursday to 2,551.

Worldwide, the number of confirmed cases of the infection exceeded 11 million Friday with more than 520,000 deaths. The total number of confirmed cases in the United States passed 2,772,395 with 129,150 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University's online tracker.

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