July 2 coronavirus news

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6:04 p.m. ET, July 2, 2020

Texas governor orders most residents to wear masks in public

Pedestrians wear protective masks walk down a sidewalk in Austin, Texas, on Thursday, June 25.
Pedestrians wear protective masks walk down a sidewalk in Austin, Texas, on Thursday, June 25. Sergio Flores/Bloomberg/Getty Images/FILE

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order on Thursday mandating face coverings in public places "in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases, with a few exceptions," according to a statement.

This order will currently impact about 67% of Texas counties, according to state data.

The text of the executive order says that failing to comply is punishable by a fine.

The statement also said Abbott issued another proclamation that gives mayors and county judges the ability to restrict some outdoor gatherings with more than 10 people. The proclamation also mandates "people cannot be in groups larger than ten and must maintain six feet of social distancing from others."

"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 the 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."

"I urge all Texans to wear a face covering in public, not just for their own health, but for the health of their families, friends, and for all our fellow Texans," the statement added.

The latest numbers: Texas reported at least 8,076 new Covid-19 cases yesterday, the state's highest number of cases in a single day.

Hear more:

5:03 p.m. ET, July 2, 2020

Houston mayor asks people to take additional steps to "blunt the progression" of Covid-19

From CNN's Hollie Silverman 

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner asked the community to take several steps to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus during a news conference Thursday.

Turner asked that people follow the recommendations for the next three weeks — including wearing masks whenever people are around, not just in businesses, ensuring social distancing in the workplace or working from home, and reducing business occupancy from 50% to 25% — to help "blunt the progression" of coronavirus in Houston.

These recommendations come as the city has reached a 25% positivity rate, Houston Health Department Health Authority Dr. David Persse said. 

"The virus is very prevalent in the community," Persse said, adding that there are more than 1,200 people in Houston hospitals with more than 500 of them in intensive care due to complications from coronavirus.

"The virus is very much out there," Persse said. "It's very much actively spreading."

Turner also asked that people reduce social gatherings to no more than 10 people ahead of the Fourth of July holiday weekend. The mayor has also asked faith communities to resume virtual services in place of in-person services to help mitigate the spread of the virus.

The city is producing a virtual Fourth of July show, Turner said. 

Turner's request came the same day that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott mandated masks in public spaces statewide for counties with 20 or more positive case. 

Abbott also issued a proclamation giving mayors and county judges the ability to impose restrictions on outdoor gathering of over 10 people. 

6:18 p.m. ET, July 2, 2020

Top US health official urges Floridians who have been to mass gatherings to get tested

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez 

Dr. Deborah Birx
Dr. Deborah Birx Pool

The White House coronavirus coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, urged all Floridians who had been to mass gatherings in the last four weeks to get tested for coronavirus even if they don’t exhibit symptoms, citing the rate of asymptomatic spread in the state.

“To every Floridian, we know what works. In addition to the hand washing and the social distancing, wearing masks and not having large gatherings inside, not having large gatherings outside. But if you’ve participated in a large gathering in the last four weeks, we ask all of you to come forward and be tested, because of the level of asymptomatic spread,” Birx said during a news conference in Florida on Thursday. 

She also emphasized the importance of wearing masks and staying away from people with other health conditions.

“So we’re asking for everyone under 40 that if you were in a gathering, please go and get tested," Birx said.

4:49 p.m. ET, July 2, 2020

Orange County closing all county-operated beaches for July 4 weekend

From CNN’s Topher Gauk-Roger

All county-operated beaches in Orange County will be closed for the entire holiday weekend of July 4 and 5, the county's executive officer, Frank Kim, told CNN, joining other Southern California counties in the closing of their shores to prevent spread of coronavirus.

Kim explained that Orange County cities are managing their local beaches, but all are closed on July 4 with the exception of San Clemente, which has yet to make a final determination.

The county closure comes after the cities of Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Seal Beach, and Laguna Beach all announced plans to close their beaches during the holiday weekend, and follows beach closures in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. 

Access to state beaches will also be restricted for the upcoming holiday weekend, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in a news conference this week. The beaches themselves will not be closed, but rather parking lots and facilities will be. This applies to state beaches from Sonoma County down to Southern California, Newsom said.

Here are the beaches that are closing for the holiday weekend:

  • Aliso Beach
  • Capistrano Beach
  • Salt Creek Beach 
  • Baby Beach
  • Bayside Beach
  • Camel Point Beach
  • Poche Beach
  • Strands Beach
  • Table Rock Beach
  • Thousand Steps Beach 
  • Treasure Island Beach 
  • West Street Beach 
4:42 p.m. ET, July 2, 2020

Georgia governor urges people to wear masks and practice social distancing

From CNN’s Maria Cartaya

WJXT
WJXT

Gov. Brian Kemp asked people in his state “to do the right thing" when it comes to practicing social distancing, using good hand sanitation and wearing a mask.

“(It's) not that hard to do,” said Kemp, speaking from Southeast Georgia Health System in Brunswick, Georgia.

“Even on the beach do that as well (follow guidelines). We’re not going to be the nanny state. We want people to enjoy themselves, we just want them to do that in a safe way so we can continue to enjoy and have a profitable rest of the summer for the Golden Isles,” Kemp said.

Asked about Savannah’s mask mandate, Kemp said, “From a legal perspective, I really haven’t had time to look at that.” 

“The mayor and I agree on the policy. You should be wearing your mask," he added. 

4:34 p.m. ET, July 2, 2020

California will withhold funds from people who don't comply with health orders, governor says

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

Gov. Gavin Newsom
Gov. Gavin Newsom Pool

Enforcement of health orders is contingent on local authorities, but California’s governor is again threatening to withhold funding from those who do not comply.

Part of California’s new budget included a trailer bill, which allows dissemination of funds based on contingent behavior, Gov. Gavin Newsom said. He is referring to the distribution of $2.1 billion, which includes CARES Act and realignment dollars.

The enforcement directive applies to everyone in the state, not just to businesses. Yet companies seem to be the focus of intervention, with Newsom noting that the state sent out 350,00 letters to businesses on Wednesday specifically laying out expectations and good business behaviors to protect employees and customers.

The governor said he supports the idea of issuing citations if necessary, but stresses that education and encouragement to follow the directives should come first.

4:59 p.m. ET, July 2, 2020

Vice President Pence: The US "will flatten the curve"

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal 

Pool
Pool

Vice President Mike Pence, on a swing of states with sharp rises in Covid-19 cases, has been changing his tone on the virus, declaring in Arizona and Florida that the country “will flatten the curve.”

In recent remarks, Pence has said the curve has already been flattened.

“We will slow the spread,” Pence said, alongside Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Dr. Deborah Birx on Thursday. “We will flatten the curve. And we will save lives and we will bring Florida’s economy back bigger and better than ever before.”

He made a similar statement in Arizona on Wednesday.

As recently as two weeks ago, Pence said he was “proud to report” that “we slowed the spread. We flattened the curve. We cared for the most vulnerable, and we saved lives,” in remarks at a steel plant in Michigan. Even at the time, that was false. Case counts were on the increase or flat in most states, according to data provided by Johns Hopkins which tracks cases across the US. 

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Pence said the federal government is “considering” and will be “processing in very short order” a request for additional medical personnel to deal with coronavirus cases in Florida.  

But Pence still stressed the need to “keep opening back up our economy,” even as cases surge nationwide.

“Even in these challenging times,” Pence said, “we’re continuing to see America’s economy coming back, Americans going back to work.” He also thanked the DeSantis for his “efforts to open up Florida again,” before touting jobs numbers.

Watch:

4:22 p.m. ET, July 2, 2020

More than 34,000 new cases of Covid-19 reported in the US today

There have been at least 2,721,961 cases of coronavirus in the US since the beginning of the pandemic, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, and at least 128,496 people have died.

Johns Hopkins reported at least 34,634 new cases and 419 deaths on Thursday.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases. 

4:17 p.m. ET, July 2, 2020

New Jersey extends public health emergency for another 30 days

From CNN's Melanie Schuman and Elizabeth Hartfield

Pool
Pool

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has signed an executive order extending the public health emergency in the state.

The extension does not impact the state’s reopening, which is continuing to move ahead. The health emergency was first declared in the state on March 9.

“What today’s action means is we will have the authority to remain vigilant and prepared to act should there be another outbreak,” Murphy said during his daily briefing Thursday. 

Each extension expires after 30 days unless renewed.