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Mississippi governor orders mask mandate for 13 counties

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves ordered a mask mandate active in 13 counties for residents at public gatherings or in shopping spaces, according to the Clarion Ledger. The order also bans social gatherings of more than 10 people indoors and 20 people outdoors but does not require businesses to close.

“Mississippi is in a fight for our lives,” Reeves said, according to the Clarion Ledger.

The order applies to counties that have seen 200 new cases within the past 14 days, or had an average of 500 cases per 100,000 residents within the last 14 days, the Clarion Ledger reports.

Mississippi currently has recorded 33,591 confirmed cases and 1,204 coronavirus deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Thomas Dobbs, the state health officer, said that five medical centers in Mississippi do not have any ICU beds left for new patients, according to the Clarion Ledger. –Suzanne Blake

California gears up for fire season as coronavirus cases surge

Gavin Newsom, governor of California.

Rich Pedroncelli | AP | Bloomberg via Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and other state emergency services officials said that the state is preparing for peak fire season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are in peak. We are in peak fire season. That means the fires aren’t just going to go out as the sun goes down. They’re going to start burning through the night,” said Thom Porter, chief director of California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Porter told the public to wear their masks and stay vigilant in identifying fires early.

“Your mask is what’s going to keep you safe from infections coming into your community as well as keeping our firefighters and emergency responders safe from taking infection out into their population. We really need you to wear the masks,” he said.

Mark Ghilarducci, director of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, talked about new evacuation guidelines and public safety measures at the press briefing.

“In this particular year with Covid, [there is] a little bit more complexity,” he said. “If you’re told to evacuate this year, we’re doing some things a little differently. It may be that we don’t put you in a congregate shelter situation. We may be putting you in hotels.”

Ghilarducci added that there will be additional public health requirements at shelters such as temperature checks, mandatory mask wearing and social distancing. He also said there will not be any buffet-style feeding but individually packaged meals. At evacuation shelters, there will be enhanced nursing and medical staff for those who need assistance and segregation between people who may be Covid-positive and those who are not. 

Newsom noted that there have been 4,112 wildfires this year, which is substantially higher than the average of 2,580 fires at this time of the year. “We are now walking right into the pit of the fire fighting season, wildfire season. Let us be vigilant,” he said.

California reported 7,031 additional coronavirus cases on Thursday and a seven-day average of 8,043 daily new cases. The state also announced a positivity rate of 7.3% based on a 14-day moving average. —Jasmine Kim

Airborne transmission of coronavirus ‘cannot be ruled out,’ WHO says

Owner Sarah Celek (red leggings) teaches a class at Pure Barre Cincinnati West as Ohio gyms and fitness centers reopen for business in the wake of the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Jason Whitman | NurPhoto via Getty Images

The World Health Organization issued new guidance Thursday, acknowledging that the coronavirus might be able to infect people through microscopic particles in the air.

The new guidance recognizes some research that suggests the virus may be able to spread through particles in the air in “indoor crowded spaces” such as “during choir practice, in restaurants or in fitness classes.”

“In these events, short-range aerosol transmission, particularly in specific indoor locations, such as crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces over a prolonged period of time with infected persons cannot be ruled out,” the United Nations health agency’s new guidance says. 

However, the WHO added that the virus “primarily” spreads from human to human through respiratory droplets. —Will Feuer

Missouri summer camp shuts down after 82 people get coronavirus

After opening their doors for the summer, a Missouri sleepaway camp is closing down after at least 82 campers and staff tested positive for coronavirus, according to the New York Post.

Kamp Kanakuk in Lampe decided to shut down after the first few dozen cases were found, according to the Stone County Health Department. The campers and employees have returned to at least 10 states, the New York Post reports.

“Stone County Health Department will be working closely with Kanakuk Kamps to identify exposed individuals and quarantine those individuals, as necessary,” officials said, according to the New York Post. –Suzanne Blake

San Francisco mayor tests negative for Covid-19 after being exposed at event

San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced via Twitter that she tested negative for Covid-19 today. Breed said she recently attended an event where another person who knew they had tested positive for the virus was also present.

One of the first mayors to implement a lockdown, Breed said she will also take health officials’ guidance to take another test next week as it can often take some time to test positive.

“Obviously going to events when you know you’re COVID-positive is reckless,” Breed tweeted today. “But if you’re going to a party, or putting yourself in situations where you can easily catch the virus, you’re also putting others at risk. You can have the virus and not know it.”

She added, “That means you can be exposing a single mom who is already struggling to provide for her family. You can be exposing your parents, or a senior, or a person with pre-existing conditions who is more likely to die from this virus. Don’t be selfish. No one is immune from COVID-19.” –Suzanne Blake

Job loss remains ‘enormous’ months into crisis

New applications for unemployment benefits exceeded 2 million people last week, according to Labor Department data issued Thursday.

The prior high — 695,000 — was set in 1982. New claims have been at least triple the prior record for 16 straight weeks.

“We’re still seeing an enormous amount of job losses,” said Heidi Shierholz, former chief economist at the Labor Department during the Obama administration

That new applications for jobless aid remain elevated weeks into the coronavirus crisis points to a fragile economic situation and continued financial pain for many households.

The situation could further deteriorate given spikes in new coronavirus cases, experts said. Businesses may also soon run out of federal relief funding that had helped prop up payrolls. — Greg Iacurci

Regional spikes in coronavirus cases hit restaurant spending, Bank of America says

As coronavirus cases surge in some regions of the U.S., the restaurant industry is again seeing a hit to sales, according to a Bank of America study. 

“It is quite evident in our industry checks that COVID-19 spikes in key states in the West and Southeast have weighed on industry sales since the third week of June,” analysts Gregory Francfort and JonMichael Shekian wrote.

The two used aggregated transaction data from Bank of America credit and debit cardholders to analyze consumers’ restaurant spending habits. They found that big chain restaurants are recovering faster than the rest of the industry, which could spell trouble for the survival of independent eateries and small chains. —Amelia Lucas

Starbucks to require customers to wear facial coverings

Starbucks customers will have to wear masks to enter company-owned locations starting July 15.

Customers who are not wearing facial coverings at locations without a local government mandate can use curbside pick-up, drive-thru lanes or delivery to receive their Starbucks drinks.

The announcement comes as retailers and restaurants try to navigate protecting their employees’ health during the coronavirus pandemic without agitating customers who do not wear a mask, even if it is required by the state or locality. –Amelia Lucas

Disney World set to reopen Saturday even as coronavirus cases reach new highs in Florida

Crowds walk through Disney Springs shopping and dining complex at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The theme park is scheduled to reopen on Saturday despite a surge in new Covid-19 infections throughout Florida, including the central part of the state where Orlando is located.

Octavio Jones | Getty Images

Disney is facing increased scrutiny as it readies for the phased reopening of Disney World in Orlando, Florida this Saturday.

The company has expressed confidence in its safety measures in the face of a massive increase in coronavirus cases in the state. However, there is still apprehension from potential guests and experts about whether Disney World should reopen its gates to the public, even as its competitors Universal Studios and SeaWorld have already reopened.

The public concern centers around the nearly 114,000 new coronavirus cases that were reported in the last two weeks, according to the Florida Department of Health. As well as the dozens of hospitals in the state have run out of space in their intensive care units.

Disney’s new safety protocols include a mandatory mask policy, temperature checks, empty seats on rides and the addition of around 4,000 sanitation stations within its parks and shopping centers. Disney says it is prepared to enforce these new policies. —Sarah Whitten

WHO warns the pandemic is ‘getting worse’

The coronavirus pandemic continues to accelerate globally as the virus reaches new communities and countries struggle to get their outbreaks under control, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Thursday.

“The virus can be brought under control,” Tedros said in his opening remarks to a member states mission briefing in Geneva. “But in most of the world, the virus is not under control; it’s getting worse.”

Many countries have managed to largely contain the virus to small clusters of infection that can be controlled, Tedros said, by using fundamental strategies like testing, contact tracing and isolating. 

Tedros also announced the formation of a new independent panel to evaluate the global coronavirus pandemic response, including the WHO’s actions. The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response will be co-chaired by the former prime minister of New Zealand Helen Clark and the former president of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. —Will Feuer

Online shopping during pandemic hurting grocers’ bottom line

For grocers, the popularity of online shopping during the pandemic may seem like good news — but it’s actually hurting the bottom line.

In a new report, Bain & Co. says grocers are on the clock to fix their broken business model as e-commerce becomes a more meaningful part of their market. It urged companies to start charging fees, invest in automation and look for new revenue streams, like charging consumer packaged goods companies to put free samples in virtual baskets.

Online shopping accounted for 5.1% of grocery sales in the U.S. at the end of 2019 and rose to 6.6% as of April 12, according to Bain. It also increased in places including United Kingdom, France and Italy, according to the report.

Bain’s report played out different scenarios that could have an influence if the shift in consumer habits sticks or intensifies, such as when a Covid-19 vaccine is ready and if there’s a second wave this fall. Regardless, though, it said the pandemic’s effect resembles “someone pressing the fast-forward button on the industry by several years.” 

Steve Caine, one of the report’s authors, described the upward trend as “a wake-up call.”

“You can’t just run it at a loss,” he said. “You can’t ignore the fundamental economic equation any longer.” —Melissa Repko

Mnuchin pushes for narrower aid bill

As the coronavirus ravages the U.S. South and West, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is calling for a narrower relief plan than the White House supported earlier this year.

In a CNBC interview Thursday, Mnuchin said the White House would support direct payments to individuals and a change to the $600 per week federal unemployment benefit set to expire at the end of July. He did not say at what income threshold he would want the checks to Americans to phase out, or how the Trump administration wants to structure ongoing relief to unemployed individuals. 

Mnuchin also cast doubts on sending more relief to state and local governments, saying he did not want to “bail out” states “mismanaged” before the pandemic. 

When Congress returns from its Fourth of July later this month, it will only have two weeks to craft a new bill before its August recess. Democrats want sweeping relief including direct payments, hazard pay, money for states and municipalities and rent and mortgage aid as the rapidly spreading pandemic has killed more than 132,000 Americans. 

President Donald Trump has largely shrugged off the severity of the crisis as he cheers for an economic recovery ahead of the 2020 election. —Jacob Pramuk

California and Florida hit record for average daily cases as U.S. hospitalizations surge

California and Florida were among 12 states that hit a record-breaking, seven-day average for daily new Covid cases on Wednesday, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 

Across the U.S. as of Wednesday, coronavirus cases grew in 40 states, based on a seven-day moving average, according to the analysis. Nationally, cases grew by more than 20% from a week ago. 

California had 7,697 new infections based on the seven-day moving average, which is more than 26% higher compared with a week ago, according to the analysis.

Florida’s seven-day average of daily new cases stood at 9,255 as of Wednesday — a nearly 30% jump since last week. 

Florida also saw a jump in the percentage of positive Covid-19 tests at 18.4% on Wednesday, after Vice President Mike Pence said the states so-called positivity rate was “flattening.”

The number of people hospitalized with Covid-19 also grew by 5% or more Wednesday in 25 states, based on a seven-day moving average, according to data compiled by the Covid Tracking Project. Of the 25 states, 13 hit record highs in average hospitalizations. They include Arizona, California, South Carolina and Texas. —Jasmine Kim

American, United cancel Hong Kong flights over mandatory testing 

A traveler wearing a protective mask walks past an American Airlines Group Inc. plane tail fin at Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA) in Arlington, Virginia.

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

American Airlines and United Airlines have called off service to Hong Kong after local health officials said they would require crews to undergo Covid-19 tests upon arrival, the latest hurdle to airlines’ plans to resume regular international routes.

The deep throat saliva samples would be collected when crews arrive in Hong Kong, the city’s health officials said this week. Airline crews would be subject to local hospitalization if they test positive.

American planned to resume flights to Hong Kong on Thursday after suspending them in February as the disease was spreading worldwide but said it would postpone the resumption until Aug. 5. American’s pilots’ union, the Allied Pilots Association, said it discussed concerns about the testing requirements with management.

United said it was suspending flights through Friday and that the decision affects passenger and cargo flights. —Leslie Josephs

States with bad outbreaks should consider ‘shutting down,’ Fauci says

Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, CDC Director Dr Robert Redfield and Adm. Brett Giroir, director of the U.S. coronavirus diagnostic testing, testify during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S..

Kevin Dietsch | Reuters

States that are grappling with an expanding coronavirus outbreak should seriously consider shutting down, as the country did in March, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

“What we are seeing is exponential growth. It went from an average of about 20,000 to 40,000 and 50,000. That’s doubling. If you continue doubling, two times 50 is 100,” Fauci said on a Wall Street Journal podcast. “Any state that is having a serious problem, that state should seriously look at shutting down. It’s not for me to say because each state is different.”

The U.S. continues to push new records of daily increases in new coronavirus cases. Arizona, California, Florida and Texas have accounted for nearly half of all new cases in the U.S. in recent days. The recent surge has overwhelmed some aspects of the U.S. response, including testing. Some labs have said turnaround time to process a diagnostic test could take six days in some areas.

“There still is a lag of time when you get the test back and if you’re going to do contact tracing and the tests come back in five to seven days, you might as well not do contact tracing because it’s already too late,” Fauci said. —Will Feuer

CDC is not revising school reopening guidelines, director says

A woman pushes a baby in a cart past the entrance to Public School 133 in the Harlem neighborhood of the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S..

Shannon Stapleton | Reuters

The CDC will issue additional information to help schools reopen in the fall but is not revising guidelines that President Donald Trump criticized as too tough and impractical, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told ABC’s” Good Morning America.”  

“It’s not a revision of the guidelines, it’s just to provide additional information to help schools be able to use the guidance that we put forward,” Redfield said.

On Wednesday, Trump threatened on Twitter to withhold federal funding from schools that do not resume in-person classes this fall. Vice President Mike Pence said five new documents from the CDC will contain guidelines that are not as “tough” as the current guidelines.

Those guidelines call for students to stay 6 feet apart and wear face masks, among other priorities.

“It’s not a question of opening schools versus public health,” Redfield told ABC. “My position is that the public health of the students of this nation is best served by getting these schools reopened.”

 Redfield also said the CDC puts out guidelines, not requirements, and that he personally and the CDC would be saddened if the guidelines were used to keep schools closed. –Suzanne Blake

Stocks open higher as jobless claims better than expected

Stocks opened slightly higher after data showed a larger-than-expected fall in weekly jobless claims. The S&P 500 gained 0.2% while the Dow Jones Industrial Average traded just above the flatline. The Nasdaq Composite outperformed, rising 0.7% to a fresh record high. —Melodie Warner

Walgreens to cut more than 4,000 jobs in the U.K.

Walgreens Boots Alliance will cut over 4,000 jobs in its Boots UK business and shutter 48 of its optician centers in Britain, as the pandemic hurt sales and increased expenses.

The global drugstore chain reported its fiscal third quarter took a hit as it filled fewer prescriptions, spent more on staff and sanitizing and saw a drop in foot traffic. Its international business, in particular, dragged down its sales.

That steep drop means the company needs to cut costs through layoffs and other measures, the company said. Walgreens, which was already in the middle of a cost-cutting effort, has raised its goal to more than $2 billion in annual savings by 2022. —Melissa Repko

Weekly jobless claims total 1.314 million, less than expected

Weekly jobless claims were lower than expected last week as employees slowly returned to work in the wake of rising coronavirus cases, reports CNBC’s Jeff Cox.

The government said initial jobless claims hit 1.314 million last week, compared with a Dow Jones estimate of 1.39 million. The number marked a small decline from the previous week’s total of 1.43 million, but weekly claims have stayed above 1 million for 15 consecutive weeks. —Yun Li

Moscow schools and colleges reopen next week

A school student has her body temperature measured before a Unified State Exam (EGE) in the Russian language at high school No 1534.

Anton Novoderezhkin | TASS | Getty Images

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced that schools and universities will reopen next week as he looks to ease restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported.

Sobyanin said schools, universities, cultural centers and summer camps are the next group of spaces to reopen in the city. Residents will also no longer be required to wear masks outside but will still be required to do so in stores, medical facilities and on public transportation, Sobyanin said.

Theaters, concert halls and sporting venues can open next month as long as they remain at half capacity, according to Reuters.

Russia reported 6,509 new coronavirus cases Thursday, bringing to total to 707,301, the fourth largest in the world, according to Reuters’ tally. Their tally also reports 10,843 coronavirus deaths in the country since the pandemic began. —Alex Harring

Africa CDC says countries across the region must prioritize testing

Health care workers holding signs, protest over the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the coronavirus outbreak, outside a hospital in Cape Town, South Africa.

Mike Hutchings | Reuters

A prominent disease control body in Africa has urged countries across the continent to ramp up testing for the coronavirus, Reuters reported, shortly after the number of regional cases surpassed 500,000.

“The pandemic is gaining momentum,” John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a virtual news briefing. 

He urged countries to encourage citizens to wear face masks and carry out testing and tracing measures. 

To date, more than 522,000 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Africa, with 12,206 related deaths, according to data compiled by Africa CDC. —Sam Meredith.

Hong Kong fights a new cluster

People wearing face masks, amid concerns of the Covid-19 coronavirus, commute on a train in Hong Kong,

Dale De La Rey | AFP | Getty Images

Hong Kong, hailed for its early and aggressive coronavirus response, is now grappling with rising cases for the second day in a row as the city reported 42 new cases on Thursday, according to Reuters.

Hong Kong has reported just 1,366 cases and seven deaths since the virus first spread there, Reuters said. Officials quickly stamped out the outbreak without having to shut down the city by testing aggressively, conducting detailed contact tracing and isolating anyone who might have been exposed to the virus. 

In light of the cluster of new cases, authorities said they will cap the number of people at each table in a restaurant to eight, and no more than four people will be allowed to sit at a bar together, beginning midnight on Friday, Reuters reported. —Will Feuer

Read CNBC’s previous coronavirus live coverage here: California ramps up hospital capacity as cases surge



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