By Ciara Linnane, MarketWatch
The number of global cases of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 climbed above 7.68 million on Saturday, as countries around the world continued to lift restrictions on movement with mixed results.
France has seen no increase in new cases of the illness a full month after ending a strict lockdown, and health authorities say there are 933 patients in intensive-care units across the country, a steep decline from the peak of 7,148 seen in April, the Guardian reported. France is expected to lift its state of emergency on July 10.
Denmark, Austria and Germany are also moving ahead with phased reopenings as new case numbers continue to fall. But other countries, including Pakistan, Brazil and Russia, are still seeing sharp increases from day to day. Pakistan had a record number of new cases this week, and, given challenges in its health-care system, its true numbers are expected to be higher than official data show.
In the U.S., Florida also saw its highest number of cases in a single day on Friday, exceeding the record set a day ago. The Sunshine State counted 1,902 new cases of COVID-19, according to the health department, after 1,698 new infections on Thursday, as the New York Post reported.
That’s almost 20% higher than the previous one-day record of 1,419 cases, recorded just last Thursday.
Florida was an early hot spot in the U.S. but also moved early — on May 4 — to lift restrictions on movement, against the advice of health-care experts and public health officials. The loosened restrictions allowed people to flock to the beach, some of which were packed over the Memorial Day weekend.
Another 23 states are still seeing increases in new infections, according to a New York Times tracker, including Arizona, Texas, California and Louisiana.
President Donald Trump said he will resume his campaign rallies starting next Friday in Tulsa, Okla., as the Associated Press reported — that’s another state that loosened restrictions on movement early. Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, has placed no limits on crowds gathering, which health experts say is a one of the main risk factors in viral spread.
Trump backed off holding the Tulsa gathering on a key date for black Americans, although Tulsa is also a key location, as the site of a horrifying race massacre on May 31 and June in 1921; white mobs killed up to 300 black people. And June 19, known as Juneteenth, is traditionally celebrated as the anniversary of slavery’s end in the U.S.; it marks the day Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was read by Gen. Gordon Granger to freed slaves in Texas, the last state in which slaves were freed.
Sen. Kamala Harris, a California Democrat and former presidential candidate, tweeted her criticism of the Tulsa rally plan:
Trump’s campaign has warned attendees that they must assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to hold the president and his re-election campaign liable for injury or illness.
Meanwhile, in another sign that many Americans are wary of gathering in large numbers while the pandemic continues to rage, Walt Disney Co. /zigman2/quotes/203410047/composite DIS +0.28% has become the subject of a Change.org petition protesting its announcement that it will reopen the Disneyland and Disney California Adventure theme parks on July 17, with significant operational changes. Those southern California theme parks have been closed to the public since March 14 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Many people have lost loved ones due to this pandemic and by reopening the parks they are endangering cast members and guests to be exposed to COVID-19,” the petition reads in part. The petition also notes concerns about the potential for a second wave of COVID-19.
There are now 7.68 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, and at least 426,427 people have died, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.
More than 3.7 million people have recovered.
The U.S. has the highest case toll in the world at 2.05 million and the highest death toll at 114,703.
Brazil has 828,810 cases and 41,828 fatalities, the data show, the second-highest death toll in the world, after it moved ahead of the U.K. overnight.
Russia has 519,458 cases and 6,819 fatalities. India has moved past the U.K. by case numbers with 308,916 cases and 8,884 deaths.