Coronavirus Live Updates: Kentucky Governor Orders 30-Day Mask Mandate

HuffPost reporters around the world are tracking the pandemic and its effects.

Read the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic below. (To see the latest updates, you may need to refresh the page. All times are Eastern. For earlier updates on the pandemic, go here.)

Mississippi’s Biggest Hospitals Have Run Out Of ICU Beds — 7/10/20, 1:10 p.m. ET

Five of the biggest hospitals in Mississippi have run out of ICU beds as coronavirus cases in the state surge. An additional four hospitals have 5% of their beds left or less, and three have less than 10% of their beds available, The Associated Press reports.

State health officials said Mississippi’s rush to reopen has more than wiped out the gains achieved by shutting down the state for a couple of weeks in April.

“We sacrificed a lot in those three weeks,” state health officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said Wednesday at a news conference, “and we’ve given it all back and then some.”

On Thursday, Gov. Tate Reeves (R) indicated his plans to roll out mandatory mask measures and social distancing precautions early next week in 13 of the hardest-hit counties.

Despite the concerning rise in cases, Reeves also said he’s “100% committed” to reopening the state’s schools next month.

— Ryan Grenoble

South Carolina, Michigan Implement New Restrictions As COVID-19 Cases Spike — 7/10/20, 12:15 p.m. ET

The governors of South Carolina and Michigan have both issued executive orders implementing new restrictions as coronavirus cases surge in their respective states.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) on Friday ordered restaurants, bars and breweries to cut off alcohol sales at 11 p.m. every night beginning Saturday. The state hopes to limit the spread of COVID-19 among young people by restricting on-premise consumption. Cases in people between the ages of 21 and 30 have grown 966% since early April, according to The Greenville News.

As of Wednesday, South Carolina had one of the worst outbreaks in the world, according to a New York Times analysis.

And in Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed an executive order requiring the use of face masks in indoor spaces and crowded outdoor spaces. The order requires businesses to refuse entry to anyone who won’t wear a mask. People who don’t wear masks risk a $500 fine and a misdemeanor charge.

“The heroes on the front lines of this crisis have gone hours without taking their masks off every day – doctors, nurses, child care workers, grocery store workers. We owe it to them to wear our masks when we’re on a trip to the grocery store or pharmacy,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Masks can reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19 by about 70%.”

“And by wearing masks now, we can put our state in a stronger position so our kids can return to school safely in the fall,” she added. “For the sake of your loved ones, let’s all mask up, Michigan.”

— Ryan Grenoble

India Sees More Local Lockdowns As Cases Near 800,000 — 7/10/20, 4:25 a.m. ET

India reported a record 26,506 new coronavirus cases Friday as authorities re-imposed lockdowns in its most populous state and in an industrial hub, home to automakers, drug factories and brewers.

The new cases pushed India’s tally to nearly 800,000 cases, the world’s third-biggest outbreak, behind only the United States and Brazil in confirmed infections.

There have been more than 21,000 deaths in India since the first case was detected there in January, federal health ministry data showed on Friday.

The capital, New Delhi, along with Maharashtra state, home to the financial capital of Mumbai, and the southern state of Tamil Nadu account for about 60% of its cases.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, anxious to jump-start an economy crippled by the epidemic and put millions of people back to work, in early June eased an initial lockdown of the 1.3 billion population imposed in March.

But rising flare-ups of the virus have been forcing some major industrial towns and states to impose localized restrictions.

India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, will lock down for two days from late Friday as cases there surged past 32,000, the state government said in a statement.

— Reuters

UK Quarantine Rules Relaxed For Arrivals From Dozens Of Countries — 7/10/20, 3:45 a.m. ET

People traveling into the United Kingdom from around 60 countries and territories will no longer have to self-isolate for two weeks, according to new coronavirus rules that come into force today.

People returning to or visiting England, Wales and Northern Ireland within the “travel corridor,” which doesn’t include the United States, are exempt from quarantine rules. However, Scotland has produced its own smaller list of countries.

Passengers passing through London’s Gatwick Airport early Friday morning admitted they would not be traveling if they were still required to self-isolate for two weeks on their return. “We probably would have gone later,” said Ray Gordge, 64, from Taunton, who was on his way to Paris to see his daughter for the first time in six months, and meet his new grandson, born last week.

The rule change comes as a survey suggested people in four European countries are more likely to oppose inbound UK tourists this summer than they are visitors from the rest of the continent. While between 40% and 54% of Spaniards would disprove of tourists from a group of European nations, the figure rises to 61% for those from the U.K., a YouGov poll found.

The U.K. has recorded 44,602 deaths and 319,075 cases.

Read more here.

— Léonie Chao-Fong

Australia To Halve Numbers Of Returning Citizens As Cases Surge — 7/10/20, 3:30 a.m. ET

Australia will halve the number of citizens allowed to return home from overseas each week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday, as authorities struggle to contain a COVID-19 outbreak in the country’s second-most populous state.

Since March, Australia has allowed only citizens and permanent residents to enter the country. Once they arrive, they enter a mandatory 14-day quarantine in hotels, which is paid for by state governments.

Morrison said from Monday, Australia will cap the figures at 4,000 people each week. Those who return will also have to pay for their quarantine stays. Neighboring New Zealand enacted measures earlier this week to limit the number of citizens returning home to reduce the burden on its overflowing quarantine facilities.

The announcement of new travel restrictions comes days after the state of Victoria reimposed lockdowns in Melbourne. On Friday, Melbourne recorded 288 new cases. The lockdown will last for six weeks following a surge in coronavirus cases linked to social distancing breaches in hotels where returned travelers were held in quarantine.

Despite surging numbers of cases in Victoria, the state’s premier Daniel Andrews has relaxed restrictions on most of the 3,000 people locked down in nine public-housing towers. Residents in eight of the towers are now under the same restrictions as metropolitan Melbourne. The other tower remains in a hard lockdown.

A testing blitz found 158 out of nearly 3,000 residents were infected with the virus. About one-third of those were in one tower, where everyone is being forced to self-isolate for nine more days.

Australia has recorded around 9,000 cases of COVID-19 and 106 deaths. 

Read more here.

— James Martin

Kentucky Governor Orders Mask Requirement For 30 Days Due To COVID-19 ― 7/9/2020, 7:02 p.m. ET

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) signed an executive order Thursday mandating that masks be worn in certain situations statewide as coronavirus cases increase.

The order requires most people in Kentucky to wear a facial covering inside retail stores, restaurants and grocery stores. The order will be effective for just 30 days, starting Friday at 5 p.m.

“Folks, we are still in a battle, and it is not going away,” the governor said at a news conference. “We have a dangerous and deadly virus out there, and we are now seeing a regular increase in cases in Kentucky.”

Health departments and “others” will be enforcing the rule, Beshear said.

“It’s no longer a question. A mask helps to stop the spread,” he said, and therefore, masks are “no longer voluntary. It’s mandatory. It’s time to get serious.”

The governor also noted that Kentucky had 333 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 18,245.

Four more people infected by the virus have also died, putting the state’s death toll at 612.

― Carla Russo

California Governor Announces Preparations For Wildfire Evacuations Amid Coronavirus Pandemic — 7/9/2020, 6:49 p.m. ET

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced steps that California is taking to prepare for the upcoming peak of wildfire season amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Newsom said the state planned to hire more than 850 additional firefighters. It has also updated its protocols for evacuation shelters given the threat of the virus spreading in large, congregant settings. The new protocols include conducting health screenings as people enter shelters, having cleaning and medical staff at all sites, and distributing pre-packaged meals. The state also said it could secure hotel rooms, college dorms, Airbnb rentals and campgrounds to allow people to shelter in “non-congregate” settings.

“Even in the midst of a global pandemic, the State of California hasn’t taken its eye off the threat of wildfire,” the governor said in a statement. “California is better prepared against the threat of wildfire today than at any time in our history.”

California has experienced record-breaking wildfires that have grown even worse in recent years. In 2017, wildfires near Santa Rosa killed 44 people ― the deadliest blaze in state history at the time. The next year, the Camp Fire surpassed it, killing 85 people and ravaging the town of Paradise.

Meanwhile, the state has seen a steady increase in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, with more than 296,000 confirmed cases and more than 6,700 dead as of Wednesday.

— Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

States Fret Over How To Safely Hold Bar Exams Amid COVID-19 Surge ― 7/9/2020, 3:40 p.m. ET

A surge in coronavirus causes across the county has several states changing or reconsidering their plans to hold in-person bar exams for lawyers.

Kentucky’s Supreme Court announced Thursday that it’s canceling both its July and September in-person exams and replacing them with a single online test in October. The court hopes the change will “protect the health and safety of bar applicants, employees and volunteers,” who would typically gather by the hundreds or thousands in one room for the exam.

The Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners, which had previously moved its July exam to September, announced Wednesday that it would not hold any in-person exam in 2020 and would instead hold an online exam in October.

Lawmakers in Arizona, where exams are planned to proceed on schedule and in person as usual, are now pushing for similar changes.

“We are alarmed that the July bar exam has been scheduled to proceed, despite the fact that our state is in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic which has rapidly worsened in the recent weeks,” a letter from several of the Arizona lawmakers said. Test-takers there have the option to take an online bar exam in October, but a passing grade on that exam would only allow them to practice law in Arizona. The results from an in-person test would allow them to practice in more than 30 other states.

― Lydia O’Connor 

For more on the pandemic, go here.

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