Sun Belt hospitals near capacity; Miami shuts restaurants again

MIAMI — Hospitals rapidly approached capacity across the Sun Belt Monday and Miami-area restaurants and gyms were closed again as coronavirus infections surged while the country emerged from a Fourth of July weekend of picnics, pool parties, and beach outings that health officials fear could fuel the outbreak.

The seesaw effect — restrictions lifted, then reimposed — has been seen around the country in recent weeks and is expected again after a holiday that saw many people celebrating without masks.

Confirmed cases are on the rise in 41 out of 50 states plus the District of Columbia, and the percentage of tests coming back positive for the virus is increasing in 39 states.


Florida, which recorded 11,400 new cases Saturday, a daily record, has seen its positive test rate reach more than 18 percent. It has been hit especially hard, along with other Sun Belt states such as Arizona, California, and Texas.

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In Miami-Dade County, population 2.7 million, Mayor Carlos Gimenez ordered the closing of restaurants and certain other indoor places, including vacation rentals, seven weeks after they were allowed to reopen. Beaches will reopen Tuesday after being closed over the weekend.

“But if we see crowding and people not following the public health rules, I will be forced to close the beaches again,” he warned.

Hospitalizations across the state have been ticking upward, with nearly 1,700 patients admitted in seven days, compared with 1,200 the previous week. Five St. Petersburg-area hospitals were out of intensive care beds.

Associated Press

NYC public schools expected to open in September

NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to reopen New York’s public schools in September, but students will almost certainly not return to classrooms five days a week, and they will probably have staggered schedules to fulfill social distancing requirements.


That could mean that the city’s 1.1 million students physically attend school a few times a week, or one week out of every two or even three, and continue their classes online the rest of the time. Math and English classes could be held in cafeterias or gyms, where there is room to spread out. Students may be asked to keep their distance from one another in once-boisterous hallways and schoolyards.

De Blasio is expected to announce more details in the coming days, as anxiety among parents about the fall reaches a fever pitch.

Unions for teachers and principals have made clear they have pressing concerns about whether there will be enough personal protective gear, school nurses, and testing capacity to reopen safely, and union leaders have not hesitated to criticize the mayor for not releasing more specifics yet.

New York City’s system, with 1,800 schools, stands apart from other districts for its size, but districts and colleges across the United States are grappling with many of the same questions about safely reopening. Students in Seattle, the first US city to be hit hard by the virus, will likely attend school only a few days a week.

New York Times

Atlanta’s mayor tests positive for coronavirus

ATLANTA — Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, 50, said Monday that she had tested positive for the coronavirus..


The Democrat is among the women seen as a potential vice presidential running mate for the presumptive presidential nominee, Joe Biden.

‘‘COVID-19 has literally hit home. I have had NO symptoms and have tested positive,’’ Bottoms tweeted.

She told MSNBC she decided her family should get tested again because her husband “literally has been sleeping since Thursday.” She said the only other symptoms she and her husband have experienced are similar to those from allergies they have.

“It leaves me for a loss for words because I think it really speaks to how contagious this virus is,” Bottoms told MSNBC. “We’ve taken all of the precautions that you can possibly take . . . I have no idea when and where we were exposed.”

Associated Press

After contact with carrier of virus, governor joined Trump

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Shortly after fireworks above Mount Rushmore disappeared into the sky on Friday, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem accompanied President Trump aboard Air Force One despite having had close contact with Trump’s son’s girlfriend, who had tested positive for the coronavirus.

All along, Trump has been in a position to encounter a virus that spreads from people who don’t feel sick, such as Noem, who had interacted at a fund-raiser with Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle. Noem didn’t wear a mask on the plane and chatted with the president on the flight to Washington, according to her spokeswoman, Maggie Seidel.

Noem had tested negative for COVID-19 shortly before welcoming Trump to South Dakota on Friday, a day after she had interacted with Guilfoyle. A photo on social media showed Noem and Guilfoyle hugging. The campaign announced Guilfoyle had tested positive on Friday.

Associated Press

Report says COVID-19 is hurting AIDS patients’ care

New numbers on the global AIDS epidemic show some big successes, such as fewer deaths and new infections. But there are some tragic failures: Only half the children with HIV, the virus that causes the disease, are getting treatment.

“We are making great progress against the HIV epidemic . . . but the bad, bad news is that kids are lagging behind,” said Dr. Shannon Hader, deputy executive director of UNAIDS. The United Nations agency reported last year’s numbers Monday at an international conference.

Progress against HIV also is being hurt by another infectious disease: the new coronavirus. Four years ago, the United Nations set goals for limiting HIV infections and improving treatment by the end of 2020, and all will be missed because the coronavirus pandemic is hurting access to care, the report concludes. About 1.7 million new HIV infections occurred in 2019 — down 23 percent since 2010.

Associated Press

Apology follows equating of mask rule to Holocaust

TOPEKA, Kan. — A Kansas county Republican Party chairman who owns a weekly newspaper apologized for a cartoon posted on the paper’s Facebook page that equated the Democratic governor’s coronavirus-inspired order for people to wear masks in public with the mass murder of Jews by Nazis during the Holocaust.

Dane Hicks, owner and publisher of The Anderson County Review, said on Facebook that he was removing the cartoon after “some heartfelt and educational conversations with Jewish leaders in the U.S. and abroad.” The cartoon, posted Friday, drew dozens of critical responses and global attention. A blog post by Hicks on Saturday defending it also drew critical responses. Hicks is the GOP chairman for Anderson County in eastern Kansas. The state party chairman deemed the cartoon “inappropriate.” Governor Laura Kelly called for it to be removed, and she and others called it anti-Semitic.

Associated Press