July 21 (UPI) — New York City, which was at one time the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, entered the fourth and final phase of the state’s reopening plan on Monday.
The city entering the last stage means low-risk outdoor facilities, like zoos and botanical gardens, can open at 33% capacity. The rest of New York state has already begun the fourth phase of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s reopening plan.
The United States has had 3.8 million coronavirus cases and 140,957 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to updated figures Monday from Johns Hopkins University.
The Bahamas, which reopened to visitors early this month, said it will close its borders to U.S. travelers beginning Wednesday.
Prime Minister Hubert Minnis announced the restriction Sunday and said it’s the result of rising U.S. cases, particularly in nearby Florida.
There have been more than 350,000 cases to date in Florida, which is now the U.S. epicenter of the outbreak. The state reported about 12,500 new cases Sunday and 10,347 new cases Monday.
Officials said the positive rate fell below 12% among 115,000 tests, but hospital capacity remained limited. Florida’s five-day total of admissions was 1,637 Sunday, and 49 hospitals said they had no more space in intensive care units.
“The residents here are terrified and I’m terrified for the first time in my career, because there’s a lack of leadership,” Democratic Rep. Donna Shalala, who represents part of Miami-Dade County, told ABC This Week on Sunday. “It’s terrible. We have community spread, which means the virus is out of control.”
In California, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti acknowledged Sunday that the city reopened too soon and said it’s on the verge of closing again with a new stay-home order.
“We’re on the brink of that,” he said.
California reported a record number of new hospitalizations Sunday and reported 6,846 new cases on Monday for a total of 391,538 and nine new deaths for a death toll of 7,694.
“It’s not just what’s opened and closed, it’s also about what we do individually,” he told CNN. “It’s about the people who are getting together outside of their households, with people they might know.”
In Texas — which has quickly grown to be the fourth-most infected state with exponentially spiking daily cases since about mid-June — the emergency management director for Hidalgo County along the border with Mexico ordered all residents to shelter in place starting Wednesday amid climbing infections.
The county tallied 524 new cases and 34 deaths increasing its totals to nearly 12,800 infections and 318 deaths.
County Judge Richard F. Cortez signed the county order Monday, ordering a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew also be in place with exceptions for those experiencing a medical emergency or providing an essential service.
“It is nightly encouraged and recommended that all commercial businesses operating within Hidalgo County, except essential covered businesses, should cease all activities at facilities that may not be provided by curbside, drive-through or take-out services,” Cortez said in the order.
In Kentucky, health officials reported a record daily high for new cases, with 979.
“We are at war, and we are in the trenches,” Gov. Andy Beshear said. “I have faith and I have trust in the people of Kentucky. But today and in the days ahead we’ve got to do a whole lot better.”
In Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards urged residents to comply with distancing recommendations.
“COVID-19 is more rampant in Louisiana now than it has ever been,” he tweeted. “We now have a statewide epidemic, it is no longer one or two regions driving case growth. It’s on all of us to do better.”
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the statewide mask mandate would take effect, requiring every adult in Arkansas to wear a mask or other face covering that covers their nose and mouth while indoors in areas where they are exposed to people outside of their household and where maintaining a six-foot distance is not possible.
The order also requires face coverings in all outdoor settings where people are exposed to others from outside their household and distancing is not possible.
In Kansas, Gov. Laura Kelly signed an executive order mandating that all students, faculty and staff wear a face covering when schools reopen while announcing plans to push back the start of the academic calendar.
In a statement, the Democratic governor said the mandate will be in place for all those who enter a public or private kindergarten-grade 12 school building or facility.
Exceptions will be in place for when eating, activities that cannot be done safely while wearing a mask, children who are not students and under 5 years of age, people who are deaf and hard of hearing or those who are communicating with such a person and those with a medical condition, mental health condition or disability that prevents them from wearing a mask, the statement said.
The order will also mandate social distancing of at least six feet except for in-person instruction in classrooms where masks are to be worn. Hand sanitizer is also required under the order in all classrooms and students and faculty must sanitize their hands at least once an hour.
The second executive order delays schools from offering students instruction until Sept. 8 but the order will only be signed into being if the Kansas Board of Education votes in approval.
“The additional three weeks will provide schools time to work with their counties to get the necessary mitigation supplies like masks, thermometers and hand sanitizer while providing local districts time to thoroughly review the curriculum options from the State Board of Education to figure out what strategy is best for their district,” Kelly said. “Putting nearly half a million kinds and faculty in daily, large gatherings is the exact opposite of what health experts have urged us to do.”